Blogger Hacks, Categories, Tips & Tricks

Sunday, November 27, 2005
Tag Passing: The Story So Far
Johan presents a helpful summary of the tag-passing adventure to date. While I was chowing on poultry and sleeping it off, the corner of the blogosphere that we call home was experimenting with integration. Here's some thoughts about where we are and where we might go:
  • I'm still v. excited about / invested in the notion of category lists that are expanded upon your arrival at a blog. There's a level of coordination that will be required for this to work to full effect, though.
    • We'll need to agree on categories
    • We'll need to agree on menu formatting
    • We'll need to agree to blogroll one another, and
    • We'll need to agree to run the same version of the script.
  • So why do I care about these expanded menus so much? Well because the relevance / value of categories would be increased if they were useful inter-blog navigation tools as well as being intra-blog sorting tools. Imagine selecting "blogtech" from my category list, reading a couple of posts, then selecting another blog from my "special" blogroll and finding "blogtech" pre-expanded with a list of relevant posts there too.... Pretty cool... and a way of generating customised microspheres of interest. What is most exciting for me is the fact that where you've been could influence the look of, or information displayed on, the blog where you are.

  • Johan proposes some other ways to use the data in modifying sidebar entries on his blog.
"I could add a little "unfold " before the name, which might pop up a tree of a few recent post titles, show a tag cloud for Freshblogs' ten or twenty most frequently used tags, or similar, to convey an instant feel of whether the reader would find it worth her while going there for a browse, or perhaps subscription, while at it."
Some strong possibilities for the future. For now, though, I'd settle for a strong & attractive menu, in use on a half-dozen mutually linked blogs, with some categories in common, passing tags between them to test the utility of the tool. Very cool.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see Category Integration Between Sites from Monday 11/21 (especially the comments) and Johan's Magic Delicious JSON Feeds.

Posted at 3:19 PM by John.
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Blogger Greg said...
For those looking to dive into this emerging tech, I heartily endorse Johan's living history. If you're just looking to dip your toe in first ...

Using social bookmarking (like to put categories on your blog (like Blogger) is maturing to the point that we can now look at bold new applications. One is the idea that each reader can select from your tags some that are of interest to her. Your blog responds by changing its layout, navigation etc to reflect each reader's interests.

Here's some of the ideas being thrown around (and implemented):

* Tag fixing (refer to a "customised version" of a blog)
* Tag passing (carry tags with you between blogs)
* Tag grabbing (out of search engines queries and other inbound links)
* Tag syndication (share tags, either like a blogroll, as "guest tags" - or even automated!)
* Tag RSS feeds (XML feeds filtered by tags)
* Tag presentation (lists, clouds, drop-downs, tree menus)

In terms of John's remarks about co-ordination, we can relax the need to use the same version of the scripts as long as all scripts agree to the standard:

What would also be powerful is Tag Translation - one of the strengths of folksonomies is that common terms sort of bubble up without co-ordination, letting computers do the heavy lifting.

For example, if John blogrolled Johan, and John's reader was using the tag "urban", (which doesn't match any of Johan's tags), it's not unreasonable to expect Johan's page to have a shot with the nearest match: "community".

How could it translate "urban" into "community"? Well, delicious does offer a "related tag" feature, but that's a bit limited. For my money, Yahoo's related tag api seems superior. The ideal would be mugging something like Princeton's WordNet to get a list of synonyms, alternative spellings and related words.

In the mean time, it shouldn't be too hard to get value out of integration with just the existing overlapping (or common) tags.

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Blogger Singpolyma said...
I agree that the need to run the same version of the script can be dropped. Selecting a tag on my blog will expand the menu here and vice-versa even though we run considerably different versions of the script. The related tag idea makes some sense, surely, but most people linking between blogs, do so from a post... so if they got to that post from a tag, then presumably posts it links to are more likely to have the same tag.

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Blogger Singpolyma said...
Oh, a question about the script itself too... when you have tag(s) selected the post count comes up as #/#... but I find that both numbers are usually the same, what exactly is the logic behind this?

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Blogger John said...

The post count in the menu on unselected tags, as I understand it, is supposed to show how many of the posts with a given unselected tag are also tagged with the current selected tag. This is an expression of the "related tags" on a blog. So:

1. You surf to Freshblog & blogtech is expanded.

2. You look at Categories & see 55/70 or whatever... 55 of the posts that I have tagged "categories" are also tagged "blogtech"

On the "same version of the script" debacle... I guess what I meant to say was that we need to agree on minimum standards / functions for interoperability so that users can expect the same functions even w/ a different layout....

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Blogger Johan Sundström said...
Greg, your ideas are much too good to be hidden buried in the deep web like this, in some un-RSS-tracked comment somewhere, with just barely a permanent URI. (John might happen to update his template to use the Blogger standard comment URI permalinks #c<comment-id> without remembering to keep his old anchors without the leading c, to name a silly example close but not right on my personal Freshblog wish list. ;-)

If you for some reason wouldn't want to take on posting great things like these in a blog of your own, might I be able to persuade you into joining my "Some assembly required" blog as an author with content creation rights? (It is meant for just this kind of idea development and "wouldn't this be good to have" kind of posts. I am sure the interlinking back to John's post would come soon enough when John adds the Blogger backlinks support tags, too. :-)

Or perchance start CommentBlogging? I've got a tool that helps tag Blogger blog comments with just two additional clicks after you hit Login and publish; it's quite comfy, even with blogs like Freshblog, which put comments in popup windows. (It doesn't help with blogs that use Jasper's Browservulsel style comments, I'm afraid, but they are few.)

Failing that, would you care to use a semi-automated Greasemonkey user script for trackback pinging linked comments, if/when I were to make one?

It was quite an undertaking, scouting around to pick up your threads of gold left scattered around every here and there for yesterday's huge microhistory post on the emerging tag tech we try to embrace here, and it would not have to be, I hope, because I'm likely to lose interest in too steep uphill struggles. Your ideas are seldom bad, just very hard to track and read in context and in one place. RSS helps that marvellously; there just is no comparison.

There are lots of better solutions than not trying; I'm listing a few that come to mind quickly and improve on the situation today, all geared to also keep the discussion in the open (hence IM clients and mail is cheating, both the web and ourselves; former because all would miss out, ourselves because we would not be able to acquire additional feedback of other great minds' thinking elsewhere).

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Blogger Greg said...
Yes, I'm afraid I'm prone to sprinkling snippets of my stream of consciousness around the place.

I should give serious thought to starting yet another blog for collating these musings, rather than just piggy-backing of others' blogs. Or at the very least, tag my comments so that interested readers (ie me!) can recover them.

Will look into it.



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Blogger Singpolyma said...
For anyone who might be interested, I am starting a project whose purpose is specifically the tagging of comments... the project is only 2 days old and lots of stuff isn't done yet, but I plan to eventually have an importer from for those using that system already as well :)

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Blogger Johan Sundström said...
Looking forward to seeing what you are planning to do, Stephen; almost to the point where I feel like a lazy mere spectator. ;-)

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