Various Plugins

WordPress plugin review : GD Star Rating

By Rene, December 13, 2009 in Plugin Reviews, Various Plugins 39 Comments

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
4.1
27 VOTES

In this second review at WordPress Plugin Guide the most important plugin on this blog is featured, GD Star Rating, a great WP plugin to feature ratings on your website in a very professional way – also a very popular plugin, at the time of writing this post it almost achieved 400.000 downloads !

We will show you all features of this plugin, it’s eight different rating types, some words about all it’s related (support) websites, an insight into the installation and setup (which is a bit complex), a complete showcase of our use of this plugin at WordPress Plugin Guide, and our opinion.

According it’s description at WordPress.org, the description of GD Star Rating is as follows :

GD Star Rating plugin allows you to set up rating and review system for posts, pages and comments in your blog. You can set many options for displaying the rating stars, and add widgets into the sidebars for displaying top ratings and other statistics generated by the plugin. Plugin includes advanced settings panels that will allow you to control many aspects of rating. Plugin also supports multiratings along with thumbs based ratings. Plugin supports use of cache plugins and dynamic loading of data using Ajax.

GD Star Rating is made by Milan Petrovic, a programmer who never seems to sleep and dedicated his life to WordPress plugin development. :)

Why ? Just check the number of updates of the plugin (at least 2-3 times a month!), a supporting system you won’t find with many commercial software packages (almost real-time responses on your questions) and he’s always busy with adding new features to his plugins.

Some of the websites Milan has running to support GD Star Rating :

Plugin Information*

Plugin name:
Version:
Last update:
Requires at least: WordPress
Tested up to:
Number of downloads:
Author:
Homepage plugin:
Plugin URL:
Download plugin:
* Information is updated in realtime from WordPress.org

www.gdstarrating.com – official website; very actively moderated by Milan, where you can download the complete PDF manual, download extra graphics to use with the plugin, read the latest news about it, FAQ’s with how to .. stuff, showcases and many more information related to this plugin.

forum.gdragon.info – it’s own forum, where you can read/post questions and answers regarding GD Star Rating, also very actively moderated

tracker.gdstarrating.com – ticket system where you can submit errors/bugs you encounter with the use of the plugin; extremely fast replies, mostly less then 1-2 hours according our own experience

info.dev4press.com/gd-star-rating/functions.html – description of functions used

wordpress.org/extend/plugins/gd-star-rating/ – it’s forum at wordpress.org

code.google.com/p/gd-star-rating/ – it’s own page at Google code

groups.google.com/group/gd-star-rating – it’s own group at Google groups

and whatever more we forgot to list here….


Different types of rating

There are eight different types of rating available at GD Star Rating :

Article rating for posts and pages
the mostly used rating, where users can vote for an article, and their vote is recorded (cookie and/or IP address).
Article review rating
rating of the article set by the author of the post/page.
Comments rating
rating type where every user can rate another user’s comment.
Comments review rating
post rating, where the users’ vote can be displayed together with his comment.
Multiple rating
possibility to have a rating system with up to 10 elements (for example, let a user rate the price, support, product features etc separately). Each element can have a different weight.
Multi Ratings Review
multiple elements for rating the article by the author/editor of the post/page.
Article thumbs rating
thumbs up/down rating for posts/pages to let a user vote if (s)he liked the post or not.
Comment thumbs rating
thumbs up/down rating for comments made by a user, where other users van vote if they liked the comment or not.
Screenshot of the multiratings option at the posts screen

Screenshot of the multiratings option at the posts screen


More features of GD Star Rating

Besides all these different types of rating you will also be amazed by all the other features of GD Star Rating, here a partial list with the most important ones (we are sure we forgot some options to mention as there are so many !) :

Rich Snippets Support
Rich Snippets is a new feature in Google and gives users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance. When searching for a product or service, users can easily see reviews and ratings (see screenshot below).
Use of Google's rich snippets at the GD Star Rating plugin
GD Star Rating is Rich Snippets ready as it’s not widely used yet (just a few selected websites at Google.com, like search results for cnet.com and yelp.com). But better be prepared for it than not thought the author of GDSR, and when Google starts using this completely you might have a seat in the front row !
Widgets support
You can have several widgets in the sidebar :
- rating results widget with a lot of configurable options
- display the average rating for all blog posts
- display the current post comments rating
Easy to implement results
it’s easy to integrate rating results in a page or post with a shortcode, in a WordPress theme using a function, automatically at the end of each post/page or easily by using the custom GDSR button in your editor.
Templates system
T2 templates system to create your own custom rating results (for example like the blue and green badges in this post)
Custom graphics
the possibility to preview/change the default stars, thumbs and trend icons
change the default icons used at GD Star Rating

change the default icons used at GD Star Rating

Multi Language Support
These languages are supported by GDSR and the amount of languages is still growing : English, Serbian, Spanish, German, Italian, French, Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.
RSS integration
You can integrate ratings into your RSS feeds.
Support for cache plugins
We use WP Super Cache here at WPPG and it works perfect together with GD Star Rating.
Time restrictions
It is possible to limit voting by setting the total time available for voting after publishing of a post (countdown restriction), or you can set a deadline date when the ability to vote will expire (date restriction).
Banning IP’s
Several options to ban users from voting by IP’s, IP ranges and masked IP’s.
Export data
You can export voting data into a CSV file for analyzing.
Import data
GDSR can import data from other rating plugins you used previously : WP Post Rating, Star Rating for Reviews and Post star Rating.
And many more other things
Dynamic loading of data using Ajax
Full moderation of votes
Charting support with pChart library
Saving IP and user agent data for each vote
Additional tools for maintenance and bulk operations
etc. etc.


Installation and Setup

Installation is quite simple, just search for ‘GD Star Rating’ at your Add New plugins menu and GD Star Rating will appear on top. Click Install to install the plugin, and wait a while until everything is setup. After installation you will see a new menu on your right, GD Star Rating with a lot of sub menu’s below it. This is the hard part, setting up everything correctly. We will try to summarize shortly the function of every menu and it’s options, full documentation can be found at the official website of GD Star Rating.

Front Page
Main page of the GD Star Rating plugin, with information like Quick Rating Facts which displays actual rating and moderation statistics, a Latest News section with the latest news from the GDSR website, and standard information like version, links to all it’s support pages etc.
My Ratings
Statistics with different sections like General Statistics, an overview of all voting done, Votes for my posts, which displays the votes made by users, together with IP address, date and time, My Latest 100 Votes, which displays the latest 100 votes and Votes for my comments, which displays the latest comment votes made.
Builder
Here you can build shortcodes or functions for use in your post/pages or WP theme, with many customizable functions.
Articles
Moderation screen for article voting
Categories
Here you can view/modify the voting rules for each category.
All Users
Displays voting activity for users / visitors to your website.
Multi Sets
Here you can create templates for multi rating sets; number of rating options and weight for each rating option.
Settings
Here you will find most of the configurable options of the plugin.
Features – here you can activate cache support, activate the different rating types, and setting for JS/CSS files, character encoding and IE6 compatibility.
Security – Voting security settings, user level and spider bots settings.
Advanced – cache and calculation settings, disable/enable menu options (Import, Export, IP’s and Setup menu’s).
Integration – enable/disable comment integration, widgets and post edit rating functions.
Articles – options for article rating, like rating icons, rules and restrictions.
Comments – options for comment rating, like rating icons, rules and restrictions.
Multis – multi rating settings, like rating icons and vote waiting message.
Articles (thumb voting) – thumb voting settings for articles.
Comments (thumb voting) – thumb voting settings for comments.
Special – enable/disable Rich Snippets support and RSS feed settings.
Graphics
Here you can select which icon set to use by set and size for the used stars and thumbs, you can preview them and you can rescan all icon sets if you uploaded a new one.
T2 templates
Here you can create and edit T2 templates, these are used for displaying voting results (like badges and tables here at WPPG, see also our showcase below).
screenshot of the GD Star Rating T2 template system

screenshot of the GD Star Rating T2 template system

IP’s
Here you can ban/unban users from voting by adding/removing IP’s, IP ranges and masked IP’s.
Import
Import voting data from other WordPress rating plugins : WP Post Rating, Star Rating for Reviews or Post star Rating.
Export
Export voting data to CSV file format (which you can use f.e. in Excel) for analyzing purposes.
Tools
Bulk options like Date based post locking, to lock posts older than a specified date for voting, options for recalculating and updating of Multi Ratings, and options to cleanup the database, cache and debug file. You can also edit the rating.css file here.
Setup
Here you can reinstall the database, multi ratings or templates, remove all plugin settings (back to default), or fully uninstall the GDSR plugin.


Use of GD Star Rating at WordPress Plugin Guide

GD Star Rating is extensively used at the WordPress Plugin Guide. We’ve put some small parts of all screenshots into one image :

Use of GD Star Rating at WordPress Plugin Guide

A description of all numbers :

  • Check out the Editor Rating table at the bottom of this post (1.). You can easily (multi)rate a product/service/whatever in your post by giving it a rating (10.) in your post’s edit window in the admin interface. With a shortcode or function you can display this (multi) rating block anywhere in your post
  • Display the result of your own rating in standard or customized format (2.). We have used both formats for WPPG, the customized one is the green badge next to the editor rating table displaying the numeric average of the rating (we modified a T2 template within the plugin to achieve this, and added a custom graphic to create our own identity). The standard format use you can find at the Overall Plugins Rating table (6.), also at the bottom of this post, here the average score is displayed both graphical (in star icons) and normal text (numeric).
  • The possibility to let someone vote for the reviewed plugin (4.) – at the bottom where you can add comments. When a user submit his/her comments together with the vote the rating will appear next to the user’s name (3.), so you can see besides the users’ comment also his/her vote.
  • Display the average vote of all users combined together – this is the blue badge on top of this post (5.), and it also displays the total number of votes. The average rating is continuously updated as soon as a new user vote is recorded. This badge is also custom made, similar to the editor badge. Another way of displaying the average user vote can be found at the Overall Plugins Rating table (6.), also at the bottom of this post, here it’s displayed as an average both graphical (star icons) and text (numeric average), and the number of votes.
  • Scroll down completely to the dark blue footer, where you can see Highest Rated Plugins (7.). This is a top 10 of all WP plugins reviewed at this blog (as WPPG is very new 10 plugins weren’t reviewed at the time of writing this article). It’s displayed as the average user vote (in stars), and also you can see a trend icon at the left which indicates if a plugin has changed it’s position in the top 10 (up, equal, down).
  • Rate this post : at the end of this post there is a blue table showing some post facts (post date, revision date, post views etc.), and at the right you will see Rate this post : (8.) where you can vote for the post – if you liked it or not – by clicking a thumb up or down. The result is displayed right below the thumb images, and it simply summarizes the number of positive and negative votes (so 15 positive and 3 negative votes will display +12). Also the number of votes is beeing displayed here.
  • In the sidebar there is a widget Highest rated posts (9.), which displays the top 10 highest rated posts (which were rated at “Rate this post:”), and it’s voting trend with an icon (up, equal, down).

As you already noticed the plugin is widely used here at WPPG, but still we don’t use all features !


Editor Review*

Features
(5.0)
Ease of Installation
(4.0)
Documentation
(5.0)
Help / Tech Support
(5.0)
Updates
(5.0)
* To read our review criteria click here

4.9

Our Opinion

GD Star Rating is an incredible good plugin for WordPress, you will be amazed by the great number of useful features, and it certainly leaves it’s competition far behind (both paid and free review themes and plugins). Documentation is perfect, excellent support and the plugin produces very nice results. Also an uninstall is available, so your database won’t be left with clutter when you want to uninstall the plugin from your website. We couldn’t think right now about a new feature which we would like to see at the GD Star Rating plugin (recently we suggested the “Rich Snippets” feature and the author implemented it in a week :)), everything we need is covered right now.

One little thing though, which is quite logical : the plugin is quite hard to setup if you want to use the same advanced features as we did. As there are so many options this is not the one-click-setup simple plugin, this one will take some of your time to get it up and running smoothly. The author of GDSR also offers premium support at a very reasonable rate in case you don’t have the time / knowledge to set it up.

Overall Plugin Ratings

WordPress.org rating
WordPress Plugin Guide editor rating
average : 4.9
WordPress Plugin Guide user rating
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


Are you currently using the WordPress plugin GD Star Rating ? Show us your website too ! What kind of additions would you like to see in this plugin ? Please share your thoughts about this plugin below, and don’t forget to rate this plugin !

 

 

Comments

39 Responses to “WordPress plugin review : GD Star Rating”
  1. NORWAY NORWAY roger on October 27th, 2010

    How do you get the %VOTES_UP% tag to appear on the sidebad widget on the frontpage ? I can’t get it to render at all when I’m trying :P


  2. Alexander on November 4th, 2012

    Great post!


    • Rene on November 4th, 2012

      thank you!