As a rule, we don’t provide database and file bundles for import/export. Sites in the CUNY Academic Commons are part of a large WordPress network, and things like MySQL table prefixes, file paths, and user account IDs will not make sense for import/export. We encourage the use of WordPress’s native import/export tool (Dashboard > Tools > Export/Import), which generates an XML file that can be used for import/export to or from another WordPress installation. When importing/exporting into the new installation, WP will give you the option of bringing over old file attachments.

If this doesn’t work for some reason, please provide more info and we’ll see what we can do.

If you have content on another WordPress site, you can migrate your content following the instructions that follow. If your content is on Blogger, Tumblr, etc., or any site that has RSS feed functionality, you can easily import your content to your Commons site with the help of plugins detailed below. First, you’ll need to export your content to a file, and that process varies, depending upon the platform.

How To Migrate From Another WordPress Site

If you have content on another WordPress site (including, it is quite easy to migrate your content to the Commons by exporting your content to a file on your computer and then importing it to your site on the Commons.

  • ​​First, go to the Commons and create your new site. See instructions for how to create a site.
  • Add the authors​ of the posts from your original site as users to your Commons site.
  • Then, go to your WordPress site, enter the dashboard (you can do this by adding “/wp-admin” to the end of the URL),
  • Click on “Tools” in the lower left-hand corner, and then click “Export” in the drop down menu that appears.
  • On the next screen, click “Start Export” under the free option for exporting.
  • If you want to migrate ALL your content, keep the default selection of “All Content” selected and click “Download Export File.” (You can also choose to just migrate selected posts, pages, or comments. If you are using a Premium theme, you may see other export options – make sure the same premium theme is available on the Commons and is installed.)
  • Save the file somewhere you can easily locate it.
  • Go to your new Commons site, enter the dashboard, click “Tools,” and then click “Import.”
  • Click “Run Importer.”
  • Click “Choose File” and search for the XML file that you downloaded from your old site, click “open,” then click “Upload file and import.”
  • On the next screen, assign authors to the posts and check the box for “Download and Import File Attachments” and click “Submit.”

See the following video for easy instructions:

How to Migrate from Blogger 

Blogger is Google’s free blog-publishing service. If your site’s url is something like “” – you’re using Blogger. To export your content to a file, follow these instructions. Then install the “Blogger Importer” plugin on your Commons site.

How to Migrate from Tumblr 

Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website, now owned and operated by Yahoo.  If your site url is something like “” you are using Tumblr.  Follow these instructions to export your content to an xmr file. Then install the “Tumblr Importer” plugin on your Commons site.

How to Migrate from an RSS feed

If you can access content on the Web via an RSS feed, you can import that content into your blog stream using the “RSS Importer.”  If you see a RSS icon, you can click on that, or you might try to simply append “/feed” to the end of the contents url.  Once you reach a screen that looks something like this, you can click on “view source” and then save that file on your computer.   Then install the “RSS Importer” plugin on your Commons site.

How to Migrate from Movable Type and TypePad 

If your site’s url is something like “” you’re using TypePad. If your site’s url is something like “” you’re using Movable Type. To export your content to a file, follow these instructions. Then install the Movable Type and TypePad Importer plugin on your Commons site.

How to Migrate from Live Journal 

If your site’s url is something like “” – you’re using Live Journal. To export your content to a file, follow these instructions. Then install the Live Journal Importer” plugin on your Commons site.

Import Process

Once you have your exported file, go your Commons site and open up your dashboard.  Go to Tools>>Import and find the importer that corresponds with your content. Click on Run Importer, then upload your files.

Any questions? Please email the Community team: .



Tips and Tweaks for WordPress Sites

Okay, you’ve created your site, and things are looking good. People are giving you the nod, but you’re wondering – did I get it all right? Did I miss some opportunities to connect up with my audience? How can I catapult my good site to a great site?

Join WordPress Help!

WordPress Help! is a public group on the Commons where you can post issues and find help from the Commons community.

Random Ideas To Improve Your Site

Twitter, Facebook, Google+, …

  • Set up social media accounts for your site. Configure so that your new content is automatically posted to them. (See Twitter Tools plugin, Facebook)
  • Add a “Follow us” section (maybe in the sidebar or footer) to display your site’s social presence. Each icon links to your home page on the respective social media site. Check out Subscription Options plugin for this or practice some HTML skills using the “Text” widget.
  • Be active on the social media sites you select. Re-direct interest back to your site by linking to cool content – events, posts, comments, etc.
  • Consider using the Twitter Mentions as Comments plugin to harvest tweets that mention your content, and post them as comments on your site.
  • Synchronize your brand – have a consistent logo on your site and your social media home pages.

RSS (outgoing)

  • If appropriate, ensure that you have a “Subscribe To RSS” icon or hyperlink. This lets users quickly add your RSS feed to their reader list.
  • Use Feedburner to “burn” your RSS feeds, get statistics, and track activity.
  • Check out Subscription Options or Subscribe2 plugins to manage your subscriptions.
  • Use Feedburner’s code snippet in your sidebar to give your readers a “Notify by Email” link, which they can use to receive new content when it is posted.

RSS (incoming)

Is there any dynamic content from other sites you would like to incorporate into your site? You can place RSS feeds in your sidebar, your pages, or into your blog stream.

  • Check out how you can add RSS feeds to your sidebars and pages.
  • Syndication – check out how the FeedWordPress plugin lets you add external RSS content directly into your blog post stream.

Be Sociable

Use the social “Sharing” plugin on JetPack to add social media icons to the bottom of your posts and/or pages. It is highly configurable, and makes it convenient for your readers to share your content to a wider audience.

Create Dynamic Headers

Most themes provide a fairly easy way to personalize their header image. But you might want your header image to be dynamic?

There are (at least) three approaches: (1) the header image changes each time you refresh the page (order may be random or preset); (2) the header image is specific to a certain page or post (a default image is displayed if no specific image is assigned); and (3), your home page has a “slider” that displays a rotating set of images that advertise and link to your content.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Dynamic Header images – check out themes that can be configured to display a different image in the header each time you refresh the screen (usually can be set to ordered or random).
  2. Install the EasyRotator for WordPress plugin, and add any number of distinct sliders in your pages and posts.
  3. Specific Images for Pages and Posts – themes that do this will often use the “Featured Image” option in the dashboard – if this is not entered, a default image will be used.
  4. Sliders – some themes let you create and design slides. Other themes select posts that are specifically categorized to appear in the slider, and provide a way to attach an image. Most provide settings for size, duration, image fade or slide, etc. You can also use plugins that provide slider functionality.

Other Ideas for Dynamic Images

  • Looking to display rotating images in a page or a post (slideshows, galleries, etc.)? Check out the plugin called “Post video players slideshow and photo galleries” that uses a service called Cincopa.
  • The Tagline rotator plugin is available on the Commons to let you vary your header tagline each time a user refreshes the screen.

Comment Management

  • Know how to recognize (and get rid of) spam.
  • Install and configure Askimet. CUNY has a license. Read more here


Start a group on the Commons and attach your blog to it. Gives you an added dimension of group forums, Docs, etc. Create content in both pages and posts. The Commons has built in functionality that notifies members when someone posts to the group blog (or to the group forum or creates a Doc or an announcement). Members can configure how they want to be notified. For more on this see: Staying in Touch with your Group.

Pages & Posts

  • Put static content in pages, timely content in posts.
  • Figure out your site: is it a blog, a website, or a website with a blog? If it serves a dual purpose, think about ways to both separate and integrate “Site” and “Blog” content.
  • Use categories and tags to organize content and make it easily retrievable.
  • Use WordPress’ built in Menu to organize your site’s navigation. You can find this in the dashboard under Appearance>>Menu.


  • Add users to your blog. Manage their permission levels. Invite guest bloggers to post interviews, thoughts, reviews…

Book Jackets and Metadata Links

  • Use the OpenBook plugin to embed book jackets from Open Library, and their metadata. Good if you’re reviewing a book, including it in a syllabus, or just want to talk about its author.

Analyze Your Audience

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Are you doing enough to ensure your content is found by search engines? See a great post recently published in the Emerging Tech in Libraries site on the Commons called Gentle SEO Reminders that covers some of the basics. Install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin.

Consider using Responsive Themes

We now have responsive themes on the Commons. (To find our responsive themes, go to “Appearances >> Themes” on your blog dashboard and search our installed themes for “responsive.”) Responsive themes make your content look great on different size devices. A majority of themes now available on the Commons are responsive. We recently did a big cleanup to modernize our selection.

Popular Plugins Available on the Commons

  • Wiki Inc – add wiki content into your posts or pages
  • FeedWordPress – get syndicated content (RSS feeds) from external sources and integrate it into your blog stream
  • Page Links To – a convenient plugin to redirect pages and posts to different URL.
  • Twitter Tools – great tool to use for establishing a Twitter presence on your site, or simply embedding a specific Twitter feed.
  • OpenBook – Writing about a book or an author? Creating an online syllabus? Embed the book jacket and publishing metadata from Open Library.
  • Google Maps Embed – quick way to add a map to your post or page. Great for showing your readers where an event or meeting will take place.
  • Leaflet Maps Marker – a neat mapping plugin that lets you easily pin, annotate, organize, and share locations using maps from Google, Bing, and OpenStreetMap. An alternative to Google Maps Embed.
  • Subscription Options – Adds subscription option icons for RSS, Email, Twitter and Facebook page.
  • Subscribe2 – helps manage the way you communicate with your subscribers
  • Simpler IPaper – Neat plugin that lets you embed documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc. into your posts and pages
  • JetPack’s Embed Shortcodes – an alternative to Simplier IPaper that makes Scribd documents readable on IPads – no Adobe Flash needed. Many other shortcodes available.
  • WP-RSS-Import – Want to include an RSS feed in the text of one of your posts or pages? This highly configurable plugin lets you decide how much (if any) of the feed content to excerpt. Shortcodes make it easy to use.
  • Super RSS Reader – a widget to display RSS and Twitter feeds. Has an optional news ticker animation that can display several pages of feeds, with configurable refresh rates.
  • Category Posts – This plugin creates a useful sidebar widget that displays the posts in one category. Lots of configuration options, including excerpt length, thumbnail size, etc.
  • List Category Posts – If you like the Category Posts plugin (above), you’ll love this one. It allows you to add content from your categories into a page or post, as well as into a sidebar. Easy to use shortcodes let you determine what you want to extract from your list of category posts.
  • Google Analytics – Find detailed statistics about who is accessing your site. This is a site-side plugin, running for all blogs on the Commons. Follow instructions in the link to have your stats emailed to you. For Advanced Users, see this page.
  • JetPack Stats, Google Analytics, StatPress Visitors – These plugins provide powerful ways to collect and display statistics
  • News Announcement Scroll – If appropriate, highlight news on your site with a vertical scroll, either in your sidebar, or in pages or posts,
  • Timelines – Does your site deal with historical data? Learn how to use interactive Timelines via Google docs.
  • Google Calendar Events – Display events from various Google calendars as a list or in a calendar grid. Easy to use and highly configurable way to display an event calendar on your site.
  • Google Docs Embed – If you have Google docs, presentations, spreadsheets or forms, you can embed them into pages and posts. Your site’s content will dynamically relect changes made in Google Docs.
  • Anthologize – This plugin lets you craft an anthology of your posts, complete with a title page, table of contents, and chapters. You can even grab other posts via RSS feed. The final product can be exported to your computer as a pdf, or four other digital formats. Great for bundling up resources for classes.
  • Events Manager – This plugin lets you display and manage upcoming events (seminars, lectures, conferences, etc.). Widgets and shortcodes let you create interactive calendars of events or bulletted event listings. You can even let you readers make online reservations for events you are organizing.
  • Q&A – This plugin creates an easily manageable FAQ section for your site. If you need a Question and Answer dialog, this plugin is for you.
  • Regenerate Thumbnails – will save you a massive amount of time if you want to change the dimensions of your thumbnail images.
  • Pinterest Pinboard Widget – adds Pinterest content to your sidebars from any account you choose to pull from.
  • WP Google Fonts – add more fonts to your site.
  • Twitter Mentions As Comments – harvest tweets that mention your posts and display them as comments.
  • Constant Contact – integrates with your (proprietary) Constant Contact account to provide email marketing, online event management, social campaign management, etc. (Similar to Events Manager)
  • Edit Flow – if you’re using your site to publish a journal, newsletter, periodical or research results, this plugin provides a framework to collaborate with team members.
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast – this plugin adds configurable meta tags to your content to optimize search engine hits.
  • EasyRotator for WordPress – this plugin lets you create any number of sliders and put them on individual posts, pages, or in a widgetized area. Many templates let you customize appearance. A stellar plugin!
  • NextPage Buttons – divide your content into pages so readers do not need to scroll down and lose site of your sidebar widgets
  • Page Excerpt – Create summaries for your pages. Works great with List Pages Shortcode.
  • List Pages Shortcode – Got a lot of pages? This plugin is great for managing content. You can add customized lists of your pages and optionally, excerpts.
  • WP Post to PDF – creates an icon on your posts and pages which, when clicked, downloads your content to a pdf.
  • Column Shortcodes – provides an easy way to divide your content into columns and create interesting layouts.
  • ChartBoot for WordPress – provides an easy way to add charts to your site, using data from your spreadsheets. Great way to supplement and quantify research.


The FeedWordPress plugin lets you include external RSS feeds into your blog post stream.   This plugin is especially useful if you teaching a course, and want to aggregate content from individual student blogs into one central post stream, where class members can read and comment.

It also is a method to use if you want to post content once, and have it published on several (or many) other sites.

To use FeedWordPress, you will need to paste the URL for each feed you want to syndicate into the form seen below:

There are many configurations which you can set in the “Syndication” admin tab, including ways to handle categories and tags.  For example, if the external category does not exist locally, should the local site create this category, or put the post in another category.

The OpenBook WordPress plugin provides a convenient way to embed book jackets, publishing metadata, and links to places where you can purchase the book.

OpenBook gathers its information from OpenLibrary.

Open Library is an open project: the software is open, the data are open, the documentation is open, and we welcome your contribution. Whether you fix a typo, add a book, or write a widget–it’s all welcome. We have a small team of fantastic programmers who have accomplished a lot, but we can’t do it alone!

Open Library is a project of the non-profit Internet Archive, and has been funded in part by a grant from the California State Library and the Kahle/Austin Foundation.

To use the OpenBook plugin, you will need to go to OpenLibrary and find the book’s ISBN number.  If you can’t find the book in OpenLibrary, you will need to add it.  You can fill out as much information as possible, and paste in a book jacket image (or url).  If new, or if adding a jacket image, it may take a hour or so until OpenLibrary processes your changes.  Then your embed will appear.

Once you know that the book is in OpenLibrary and you have the booknumber, you can simply use shortcodes to do the embed:

Advanced users may want to choose different templates that alter the embedded information.  There are five templates to choose from, and each may be modified to suit your needs.  Some templates display the images smaller and work better in sidebars.  Template 1 is the default, but if you want to change, you can append template information to the shortcode (e.g. “templatenumber=2” ).

Below is an example using the default template:

[openbook booknumber=9780253355065]

Text Expander” is a simple and handy tool that lets you toggle back and forth between showing and hiding a chunk of content on your post or page.

Once you activate the plugin, you will notice a new icon (circled in red). Click the icon to create an area in your post or page where you want content to display or collapse.



Clicking on the icon will display the following screen:

Here you can create the content that you want to be able to collapse. Once you save it, you can edit the content in the regular WordPress editor, add images, multimedia, etc.

Members familiar with shortcodes will recognize the syntax.

See below for an example:

Gam eu dico ferri, aeque errem pertinacia nam at. Illud option invidunt no per, euismod assentior eu eam. Eu nec ornatus laoreet fuisset, dissentias dissentiunt ei nam, mediocrem scribentur repudiandae sea no. Mea movet euripidis urbanitas eu, diceret gloriatur has no, sed te delenit salutandi ocurreret. No eum menandri consequuntur, nam elaboraret neglegentur no.

Ius ea minim legere audire, ius quodsi volutpat ex. Ei meis adhuc tation per, commune gubergren scribentur eu per. Eum no novum perpetua imperdiet, id augue facilisis iracundia qui. Sit ad diam esse principes. His rebum feugiat aliquyam id, errem integre scaevola no vis, duo eu putant voluptua percipitur. Ad mei ubique mollis patrioque, velit vocent voluptua mea ea, ei dicam copiosae scripserit duo.

Putant mollis malorum ex per, usu te ullum sanctus deleniti. In reque tollit omittam vix, congue convenire persecuti ut usu. Pri te reque quaeque feugiat, in meis dicat denique vim. Qui harum postea impedit cu, eum laoreet vivendo maluisset an, ipsum vivendo omittantur nam ex. Apeirian rationibus adversarium vis ex, ius ut autem urbanitas. Virtute saperet oporteat ius ei, per cu facete nonummy, nam no ubique nominavi.

Solum reformidans in sed, no regione voluptatum accommodare nam. Sed nobis eloquentiam eu, dicant mediocrem efficiendi in mea. Tantas iisque eleifend te vix, per ex mucius vocent accusamus. Duo quot movet soluta eu, odio vivendo cu eum, id cum nobis fabulas efficiantur

This is a nifty little tool that can be used in many ways to make Web content more readable without sacrificing detail.

Some of Subscribe2 settings for email notifications

As you may know,  the Subscription Option WordPress plug-in as a great way to feed out your blog posts to Facebook, Twitter, RSS, and email. You can follow this link to see more information on this plug-in, and see how it generates configurable icons in your sidebar that allow users to subscribe to your posts.

This post will focus on Subscribe2, a plug-in which also manages subscriptions, and can be conveniently configured to notify subscribers to a blog via email when new content is posted.

Installation and configuration is managed by blog admins. Here are the steps:

1. Activate Subscribe2 like any other WordPress plug-in.

2. Go to your WordPress Dashboard and find the Subscribe2 under the “Settings” tab. Here you will find a variety of settings that handle various occurrences, including new subscribers, new posts, new pages, and un-subscribers. Subscribe2 provides granular control of each of these events for both the admin and the subscriber.

3. Email templates: This step lets you control the text within the emails that will be auto generated and sent, depending upon admin settings and user profiles. There are three types: New Post email, Subscribe/Unsubscribe email, and Reminder email. Admins can control what the email says, and provide additional information from “message substitutions” words – symbols which are auto-rendered when the email is sent. See example of a Subscribe2 template, below.

Subscribe2 template announcing new content

4. Configure Widgets (optional) – Subscribe2 has two widgets which may be enabled on the “Settings” tab.

Subscribe2 Widget provides non-subscribers a convenient form to type in an email address and click “Subscribe.” A confirmation email is sent, and a click on the url is all that is required to begin the subscription. This option is available to both members and non-members of the Commons. But only group blog members may manage their profiles via the provided url.

Subscribe2 Counter simply displays the current number of subscribers to the blog.

If you want to conveniently manage how subscribers to your blog get notified of new content, check out this robust and highly-configurable plugin.

More Subscribe2 settings

Simpler iPaper Embed WordPress Plugin

Want to share a PDF or PPT document with your readers without having to send an attachment via email? The Simpler iPaper plugin is an effective way to add a document to your blog posts or pages. You can quickly and easily embed a document into your post and share information with your readers without having to re-create your work.

You can upload documents in the following formats:

  • Adobe PDF (.pdf)
  • Adobe PostScript (.ps)
  • Microsoft Word (.doc/ .docx)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt/.pps/.pptx)
  • Microsoft Excel (.xls/.xlsx)
  • OpenOffice Text Document (.odt, .sxw)
  • OpenOffice Presentation Document (.odp, .sxi)
  • OpenOffice Spreadsheet (.ods, .sxc)
  • All OpenDocument formats
  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Rich text format (.rtf)

How to use this Plugin

As with all new plugins, you will need to activate it. (This is a one time process.)  Once activated, a quick way to test it would be to embed the following html code into a test blog post:


If you save the draft and can preview the post with the embedded document (screenshots of the CUNY Academic Commons) then you’re good to go! 

Step One

Go to, sign into your account, then navigate to the document that you would like to embed. Once the document is loaded, navigate to the ‘Share and Embed’ tab on the right side of the page and select ‘Embed’. A “Share this Document” screen will pop up. Scroll down to “Embed this document”, select ‘ format’, and ‘Copy’.

Step Two

Go to your WordPress dashboard and edit your post or page.  Paste the code you got from into your post or page.

You may also resize your embedded document by adding the following height/width code to your embed code (feel free to adjust the numbers as you see fit):



The Widget Context WordPress plugin provides extra control over sidebar widgets.

Valerie Futch first called attention to this plug-in a thread in the WordPress Help Forum:

“It is really useful for selectively displaying certain widgets in the sidebar on only specific pages. This is helpful for drawing the focus to content on your content pages and filling the sidebar with social media on the blog page. Though it works well it follows a logic that is…well…hardly logical. After much frustration I found this thread from the WP forum where the developer answers a number of how-to questions. Useful if you’re going to make use of this plugin!”

Documentation is indeed limited, but the plug-in does work and is really useful, despite the frustrations voiced in the above-mentioned thread.

How to Use

After installing the plugin, there are no additional controls on the dashboard.

Go to Appearance >> Widgets and select a widget which you want to control. If the plug-in is installed correctly, you should see an additional panel drop down when you select the widget.

Although the panel seems straightforward, it is, as Valerie points out, counter-intuitive. (It seems like you need to tick off the checkboxes AND supply page or post urls, even though it says “OR”.) Here is a screenshot with some entries that worked for me:

In this example, the widget was only displayed on a page with a url that ended in “about/prezi-test”.  You may choose to hide the widgets as well.  And you may add several urls, on separate lines.  There are a lot of options to choose from here, and they may require a little tinkering, but this plug-in can be really useful.



The Subscription Options plug-in is available to all Commons members from the dashboard of their blogs (just click on “Plugins” in the left-hand menu and search for “subscription options”). The plugin will help you create icons like this, which can be placed in the sidebar of your blog to give your readers various ways to subscribe to your blog.

The buttons there connect to 1) The blog RSS feed, which readers can subscribe to through their favorite RSS Reader; 2) An email notification option (more about this below); 3) A link to a blog twitter account (more about this below) 4) A link to a Facebook page (ours is a little out of date!).

Once you’ve activated the plugin, follow the directions on the plugin installation page under “setup” to add the widget to the sidebar of your blog and configure the settings.

Note that the email subscription option uses Google’s Feedburner to send out posts by email. You’ll have to set up an account on Feedburner to make this work, but it’s worth your time: Feedburner offers not just subscription options, but also statistical analysis and many other ways of connecting to your readers. Also nice is the fact that it sends out full posts via email. Also, once you’ve set up your account with google, the process of signing up is easy for your subscribers — they just need to click on the email icon, enter their address, and confirm it via email. After that, they’ll receive a daily digest email on every day that new content is posted to the blog. If you have questions about the setup process, check out Google’s Feedburner Email Subscription Help Page.

The options in the Subscription Options plugin allow one to control the size of the icons in the sidebar, which is a nice feature. I like the fact the the icons are big and bright, though I’ve resized them to 50 pixels on this and other blogs.

A site can be configured to have one or many contributors, and WordPress allows granularity in the permissions users are assigned. Listed below are roles and their permissions:

  • Administrator – has access to all the administrative duties
  • Editor – can publish posts, manage posts as well as manage other people’s posts
  • Author – can publish and manage their own posts
  • Contributor – can write and manage their posts but not publish post
  • Subscriber – can read comments, and receive comment and news letters

To add a user to an existing site, follow these steps:

1. Log into the Dashboard of your site.

2. Navigate to the Users tab located in the left navigation bar of your Dashboard and select ‘Add New’.  This will open up the Commons Invitations Modal. For the remaining steps, see Invite Others to Join a Group or Site.