creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by — Slavin

More tinkering goes on with the ds106 Assignment Bank as a wordpress theme (watch it change as often as flickr at, thanks to the work being done by Karen and Brad on a new version for the Making Connected Learning MOOC.

Again fresh eyes and ideas are helping me see (sometimes) past the way we built it for ds106. One area we have danced around is the use of the WP-PostRatings Plugin. Typically this is used to allow people to register votes for blog posts, and has flexibility to have simple up/down voting, or 5 star and many more.

The way we have used it for DS106 has been a crowd sourced difficulty vote (1 star is easy, 5 is hard), so anyone visiting an assignment can click on a star value to register a vote. What Brad and Karen saw was a value in having this plugin used for a popularity rating, but allow for people creating a new “thing” to give it a one time fixed 1-5 difficulty rating that never changes.

I tried to explain that with the options for WP-PostRatings Plugin you could make it do either, but not both. They wanted both, and have somewhat forked the code to make it work (it’s not too much work, and if someone says it is worth doing, I can easily weave it into the site).

The plugin offers a lot of customization– you can choose the type of images used, and create any maximum scale, we use 1-5, but it could be 1-10, or 1-2:

ratings images

Once the scale is set, you can also edit the labels for each step on the scale and the point value:

ratings values

And you can define who gets to vote, just people with accounts on the site, or visitors, or both (the latter is what we use at ds106, it means any one who looks at an assignment can register a vote for difficulty).


So if you wanted to make something that only the original uploader (or someone with an admin account on the site) can set, use the registered users only option for Who Is Allowed To Rate?.

But what I did realize is that I had hard backed in the 1-5 point scale and a meaning for it into the form where you create a new “thing”. So in this process of thunking about the differences of ratings and difficulty settings, I modified the form so it uses the same levels and labels that are set in the PostRatings plugin options:

rating add assignment form

The other place you can add some customization is on the templates used to display the ratings summary

ratings templates

On the DS106 Assignment Bank we stripped the template down to just showing the stars (because of the layout design), but on the new demo site, we are using the full display capability. Here it helps to change the text a bit so it does not sound like votes of popularity, but public rating for difficulty, and also that it shoes if you have rated it before (it does this based on IP address, not perfect but what really is?)

ratings templates

And when you hover over a vote option (here I am on “3”), it shows the label below the stars

ratings hover

I still see a good reason to go with the approach Brad and Karen are doing, and I can be nudged easy to bake it into the code.

If you are trying to use this theme, you will see many updates happening on the github source site, and I will likely continue tinkering this month, and maybe well into 2024.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by nshepard

Vote? Rate? Difficulty? What are your thoughts?

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Sue Fernsebner is using it to build a site for people to archive toys ( Ryan asked me to look into adding tags to the submission form and before I even got started I saw you had already done that, which is awesome! Will definitely follow the Github source closely now. Just wanted you to know we’re playing with it here and the updates you’re doing are great!

    1. Hey nifty! I’ll probably be pushing regular updates over next few weeks, and I have a bunch to update in the docs. For just a collection should I consider an option to hide the “Do this” and “Tutorials” (Do This Toy) sounds odd…

      1. Ryan and Jim know more about the ins and outs of her plans but I actually do think she’s planning to have people blog externally and feed in about the toys (perhaps its an archive of memories surrounding toys? But again I’m not completely in the know on the project). I’ll encourage Ryan to reach out to you as it becomes more clear what the needs are to see where adding stuff makes sense. Obviously we’ll have narrower use-cases where we may just edit stuff directly but when it makes sense to add options in we can certainly provide that feedback.

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