I Hacked My Own Blogroll

Well, that was a pain in the ass.

I loved my WP Social Blogroll plugin. It updated who and when blog posts were written from my links. Whenever I need a break from work, or whatnot, I can log into my site and see if any blogs I follow have written any updates. It was beautiful, easy, and magical.

It also wasn’t updated for four years but still worked – until WordPress did an update. Sure enough, finally broken. All of the “free” RSS blogroll plugins were years old and didn’t work. I did find one and managed to make it work, but it kept crashing my site and I lost a ton of traffic over a week away with it up. I googled like crazy to find an option, and preferably a free one. I write once or twice a week, and do not get any income from blogging so did not want to have to invest much, if any.

I finally found a RSS Aggregator that was up to date (cleverly named WP RSS Aggregator). There is a free version, but very limited. The downside is the sidebar widget is $25 per year. I didn’t really want to pay that based on use alone, so I had to make a new page with my RSS feed. You can see it in the tab above alongside my other pages (Blogs That Feed). I then got to thinking that while I didn’t have a native plugin widget for it, that perhaps there was a free plugin to turn a page into a widget – and sure enough, the cleverly named “Page to Widget” was there. I installed it, and poof – magic! I now have a working blogroll updater in the sidebar again.

Sure, it doesn’t look too pretty but it works. I’ll mess around with some settings and see what I can come up with on the visuals.

I was going to make a separate tab for my “Writers Resting In Paradise” section where I keep a list of blogs I used to follow but who no longer update as well. I like that list as a reminder of how many people blogged and the relationships I had built in the past, but I also liked it because if someone came back after a hiatus it would also update and let me know there was a new post. Kind of a (non?) creepy way to stalk people. Surely, my free/basic aggregator with pay for more options would have a way to categorize the RSS links – should be an easy, simple thing, right?

Turns out it is!

For $30 a year.

I’ll see if I can find a workaround, but for now, the WRIP list will be static.


  1. Wilhelm Arcturus

    That is a fine looking live blog roll from where I am sitting. Each entry does run a few lines, which pushes stuff off the page sooner than you probably want, but it gets the job done.

    As it is, I pay as much per year as that service you found to keep my hacked together blog roll going, though that money is for a Feedly premium account to act as a source, and that comes with other benefits, so I am okay with that.

    1. Isey

      I actually re-read some of your older posts on your own struggles with the updating blogroll as research material. I considered the pinboard approach since I was at my wits end. Funny thing about the $55 dollars a year to get what I want out of it, is that it’s just the same as buying a game a year. If it was a one time, flat fee I would for sure. OR, if it was $25 for both I probably would as well on a subscription basis. The parting of the two things I want into separate costs WITH a service I believe should be baseline WordPress to begin with just makes it hard for me to stomach. Funny thing, pain with price points.

  2. Aywren Sojourner

    That’s a bummer. I used the same plugin back when I was self-hosted as it was the only one that did the job. It was always a little wonky, but sad to know it’s broke now. Nice work on the work-around, though!

    1. Isey

      It’s not elegant but it works, and WP RSS Aggregator is a big plugin that is updated frequently which gives me hope it will run smooth for a long time =)

  3. Faeldray

    On my blog, I replaced the WP Social Blogroll plugin with WP RSS Aggregator several months ago and I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I did a little bit of CSS tweaking to make it match the format of WP Social Blogroll and it’s hard to tell the difference now. Like you, I got around the pay-for widget, I just added some code to my functions.php to allow me to use shortcodes in widgets instead of using a plugin. The only feature that I found missing from WP RSS Aggregator is the blog favion images. But I managed to cobble together some code to fix that (scroll to the bottom of my blog to see them).

    Unfortunately I don’t know any way to get around the categories feature. My kind-of solution for bloggers on hiatus is to just keep them as feed sources and limited my blogroll to just show bloggers who have been active in the past 3 months. That way if they post again, they’ll show again on my blogroll.

    1. Isey

      Unfortunately I am not CSS savvy – I did see a workaround and I found the code and inserted the line it said to, but that didn’t change the outcome for me. Your blogroll is totally gorgeous =P I think I am a bit constrained by the sidebar size here but I can live with it. I do like your solution to catch hiatus bloggers – but I still like the listing for memory sake. Think I will page out the WRIP section and build in the flycatcher like you have =) Thanks for stopping by!


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