Categories and tags and keywords

Technorati recently unveiled a new feature for their little search engine that tries to categorize content by keywords (they call them ‘tags‘ just like Flickr does). They even pull images from Flickr.com and links from del.icio.us. While it’s a very neat idea, there are some problems with with the whole mob taxonomy thing. Mainly with words that have multiple meanings, like the flash tag, which shows you plenty of Macromedia Flash related content, along side some photography using flashes and even some posts about flash memory mixed in there.

But these small drawbacks aren’t enough to keep me away. I’ve added a few categories to this blog and edited some old posts to better categorize them. Technorati should pick up on the new categories and automagically add my posts into their tag system. Some of my posts are already there, but since they were so poorly ‘tagged’ it wasn’t doing me any good. Another benefit to this is that with more categories and using mod_rewrite with WordPress, I should see some more traffic coming in from Google as it indexes all the new keywords in my category URIs. It should also help users who aren’t sure what this site is about by showing them a nice broad list of topics in the sidebar instead of the limited topics I had before.

WordPress author comment highlighting

I’ve noticed a few people doing ‘author comment highlighting’ on other blogs, and thought it was kinda neat. How often are you reading through comments on a blog and not realizing that the person commenting is the owner of the blog?

Well, why not highlight your own comments on your own blog so your visitors know it’s you?

Here’s how I added it to this blog:

1) I decided to highlight the comments based on my e-mail address. This means that every comment post that uses my e-mail will be marked as ‘special.’

To do this I used a small snippet of PHP code (new code is bold):

<li id="comment-<?php comment_ID() ?>"<?php if ($comment->comment_author_email == "geoff@deconcept.com") { ?> class="mycomment"<?php } ?>>

2) Edit your stylesheet so your posts are different. Since I added the class mycomment to the comments I make, I added this to my stylesheet:

ol#commentlist li.mycomment {
   background-color: #fbfbfb;
   border: solid 1px #457AA5;
}

3) Make sure nobody can post comments by pretending to be you:

I think everyone should do this on their blog anyway, but here it comes in extra handy. I went into ‘options ->discussion’ in wordpress and added my e-mail address to the list under ‘Comment Moderation.’ This assures that if a comment containing my e-mail address anywhere in the post, the comment will be held for approval by me. So every time I post a comment I’ll have to approve it before it shows up, but this isn’t really a big deal and takes almost no time at all to do.

I’m sure there are ways to improve this and make it better, like checking all of the author e-mail addresses, and possibly giving each author their own unique css class so they can each have their own look, and then packaging all of this up into a WordPress plugin… But I’m much too lazy for that, and since this works fine for my single user blog, I’ll probably just leave it like this.

UPDATE (4-28-05): Just saw this post on the WordPress support blog that updates this for use with WordPress 1.5 and also supports alternate post highlighting as well.

Flickr possibilities

By now everyone and their mom has heard of Flickr, that handy photo sharing website that is so awesome.

Well I had this little idea for a cool new feature they could add:

Right now they have a handy ‘tag’ system that works like keywords. This is cool when you want to see all the photos that are of ‘cats,’ but what if I wanted to see pictures of current events? When Brandon started up photoblogs.org, he had the top 100 photoblogs listed there, and that’s cool and all, but it starts to suck when time goes on, and the list is always roughly the same. So I said “Hey, you should put a ‘recent popular sites’ on there.” So he added this nifty little section called Top newcomers and it works like this:

These are the top 10 registered photoblogs that have been added to Photoblogs.org within the last 4 months. Rankings are derived from the favorites lists of our users. In case of a tie, older sites are ranked higher.

Flickr could benifit from something similar to this: limit the time to one week or maybe even just a few days, and then list which tags are the most popular for that time period. The information may already be there if they store a timestamp with when a photo was tagged, but even if they don’t, it might be pretty easy to add in.

The reason I started thinking about this was on my way home from the coffee shop tonight I saw some people staring up at the moon. Now I consider my self a pretty connected person, and take breaks from work all day to read the goings on in the world and a bunch of blogs too, but for some reason I didn’t hear one peep about this lunar eclipse that happened.

Anyway, imagine that you just read something in the paper about a big protest, or about some huge natural disaster, or a lunar eclipse… and you go to Flickr and look at the recent ‘hot tags’ and get to see tons of images all of the things going on in the world right now (or last week as it may be). Or maybe, you completely miss a lunar eclipse because nobody tells you about it, but you still get to see all the pictures people took because you visit the Flickr ‘hot tags’ page every morning.

What does a permalink look like?

If you were a permalink, what would you look like?

I’ve decided to add a permalink symbol (or graphic) to each post to make it more apparent how to link directly to a single post. WordPress (the blogging software this site uses) by default makes the title of each post the permalink for that post. But before I add anything, I thought I would ask and see what everyone thinks these links should look like.

I would venture that the text “Permanent link” is the most user friendly, however, it takes up a lot of space and doesn’t really look very nice. So in trying to balance looks with usability, I want a graphic or symbol that conveys “click me, I’m permanent.”

Here are a few samples from other blogs:

Kottke: Permalink

Instapundit: Permalink

Anil Dash: ΒΆ

37 Signals SvN: Permalink

Waxy.org: Permalink (with text “PERM LINK” next to it)

And of course, we always have the generic: #

I also asked Google what it thought a permalink looked like.

I like a couple of these, but I’m not sure they really say “I’m a permanent link.”

The next task is determining placement. Should the permalink go next to the title of the post? Next to the date? Next to the comments link? Maybe we could leave it all alone adjacent to the comments link, or somewhere else new and exciting?

My last comment is on the word ‘permalink.’ Is it descriptive enough for a new internet user to figure out the meaning? I’m not so sure, and I think I’ll be using the words ‘permanent link’ as alternate text for mine.

Maybe it’s time the blogging world got together and established a standard (suggested, of course) graphic or word for these permalinks.