Popularity Contest is a WordPress plugin that keeps a count of your post, category and archive views, comments, trackbacks, etc. and uses them to determine which of your posts are most popular. I have used it for almost as long as I have used WordPress, and it was a great plugin in its time. But it is time to declare it on life support at least, if not dead in the water.
The problem with Popularity Contest is that was last updated on Dec. 16th, 2007, and it is only compatible up to WordPress 2.3.1. The current version of WordPress is 2.7. If you have had Popularity Contest installed since then, the plugin functions fine. The problem is that it will no longer connect to the database for anything else other than to record information. If you try to reset values, which is a feature, it fails.
If you try to install it on a new version of WordPress, it fails because it will not create a new database, if one doesn’t already exist. You have to manually create the database on your own. Even then it may still have problems. Although there is a fix for those problems, there is no fix for the database connectivity problems other than manually modifying the database yourself.
As a result of these problems, I sought out a more current plugin that does the same thing. The plugin I found is called WordPress Popular Posts. I’ve been using it, and I am really satisifed with how it works. You can call it directly from your theme, or it has a widget, if your theme is widget enabled. It is also more configurable, but very simple to install. It does create a new table in your database, however, to track page views, but I had no problems with it. It uses the existing WordPress data for everything else.
I am continuing to use Popularity Contest where I already have it installed and it is working sufficiently. I am using it on this blog, in fact. But for any new installs, I am using WordPress Popular Posts. That is unless Popularity Contest ever gets updated to work with the current version of WordPress. If anyone else has abandoned it, I would like to hear what you are using instead.
Update: I’m so pleased with how WordPress Popular Posts works, I’m using it on all my sites now, and getting rid of Popularity Contest.