This Blog is Part of the Beta Group to Test Snap!

I have just learned that the Rooster’s Rail is part of the beta group of blogs on WordPress that is testing a plugin called Snap, which is short for Snap Preview Anywhere™. I am very very excited about being a part of this group. I saw Snap some time ago and liked the concept a lot. So much so that I have requested that it be implemented on The Global Geek Podcast Blog. Hopefully that is happening in the next couple of months. For those people that don’t know what Snap is you are probably asking, what the heck is The Rooster on about now?

Snap is a great feature that enables visitors to your site or blog mouse or hover over a link and have a preview pop up. Yeah it is just eye-candy really. But it does give you a bit of an idea if you want to go to a site or not, what it looks like. The images are high resolution so they look great. Or maybe you are just curious and don’t want to visit but just have a peek. Tops, this is great for that. In addition to that it is just plain cool!

Anyone can have Snap on their site by signing up and placing some code in their page. Us WordPressers don’t have the ability to put this type of code in our pages, especially since this is a script. Yet again the WordPress gurus have come through and are giving us feature after feature, and now we get Snap! Woot. This is definitely a place you want to be. I continue to be impressed and pleased to be a part of this community.

For those that absolutely dislike this feature, you can disable it. Doing this will disable Snap on any site not just the one you are looking at. You must refresh the page to not see them. The good thing is that it is not permanent. Disabling it works by using a cookie in your browser. So if you want the functionality of Snap back just delete your browser cookies.

This is a great feature for WordPress users and readers and I sure hope that they keep it. I like it and I think it is useful. Thanks Matt and crew another winner in my book and I am looking forward to seeing it utilized in my posts. Readers of this blog, I would love to know what you think and I will include your comments in my feedback to WordPress Admin. I would also be interested to know what other beta testers here thought about it.

Snap Preview Anywhere Screenshot

Rooster’s Rail Milestone

Well the Rooster’s Rail reached a statistical milestone today. Nope not the kind of statistic you might be expecting.

As of just this moment in time Akismet has successfully blocked 10,001 spam comments.

10001 Spam Canned

Now I have talked about blog spamming methods before but I have noticed a distinct increase. The other thing is that this blog in this space is nine month old. Is that a reasonable amount of spam one could expect in that time-frame? Sure this blog is listed everywhere and it gets exposure due to the podcast but I am sure there are more popular blogs that get more than this blog. What about Scoble? He must surely have a heap.

I am starting to see less and less genuine comment flagged as spam and I am considering not bothering to check it for genuine comments. Sometimes I forget to do it for three or four days and I have 500+ to go through. I really don’t have the time it takes to do that.

So WordPressors what do you think, am I a target, or is this about normal? What are your experiences with spam volume? Does Akismet do the job right for you? Do you check your spam or just can it?I bet this post gets spammed.

In the time that I have composed this post there are 7 more waiting…

Tagging Folksonomy & WordPress

Tagging of your blog posts is not a necessary step in publishing your post. However it does make a significant contribution to the blogging community. Selecting tags has been described as:

“… the most important social contribution an individual can make.”

I have seen one post in particular here on WordPress recently and a few others around the place generally that seem to have a lot of tags in their posts. By that I am talking excessive, really excessive. To the point where the actual post was significantly shorter than the tags that followed. I am talking hundreds of tags here and most totally irrelevant to the post. The lack of a link is not an oversight.

This got me thinking. There are no rules as such for tagging posts:

“Tags are usually chosen informally and personally by the author/creator of the item — i.e. not usually as part of some formally defined classification scheme.”

Wikipedia: Tag (metadata)

There are however accepted norms or conventions that bloggers have come to expect fellow bloggers to follow. Although these conventions may vary within different networks or communities. Finding a definition for tagging is actually not as simple as it might seem. However to be more specific tagging is a folksonomy, which is defined by Wikipedia as:

“… an Internet-based information retrieval methodology consisting of collaboratively generated, open-ended labels that categorize content such as Web pages, on-line photographs, and Web links.”

[emphasis added]

A community relies on such tagging in order to make content searchable to relevant topics within a specific tag. So in searching a the tag “audio” you would expect to find articles related to all things audio. But not if someone has tagged a post about “The Emergence of Green Tea in Western Culture” with the tag “audio”. This is why relevent tags benefit the blogosphere and the WordPress community. Relevance is very important to tagging. Rather than relevance, tagging should be thought of as words that attach meaning to resources. You could conclude from that then, if your tags are irrelevant then the resource to which they are attached is equally meaningless. When thought of in relation to the association with tagging.

The study into tagging, folksonomy and nomenclature in general is quite complicated and involved. The fact that it has got a lot to do with the development of the symantic web has got a lot of developers interested in it’s evolution. This very fact is why the indiscriminate tagging of posts with unrelated words, terms and concepts is counter productive both technological development and the communities that rely on appropriate tagging.

The local community here on WordPress relies on an author’s ability to choose appropriate tags for their posts, within the realm of personal significance. Without that then “Tag Surfing” (This is an option within the WordPress “dashboard” available to members) would be useless and a waste of time. Indiscriminate tagging affects the wider blogging community in different ways. People expect that a tag will relate to a topic or context. If you have placed a tag that has nothing to do with your post then you have wasted the visitor’s time and your own in writing it and adding it. Plus you just lost a potential reader of your blog. You may have also lost some creditability.

Spam blogs or Splogs use this technique of unrelated prolific tagging to drive traffic, I call it “Tag Dragging”. They get hits on a particular page not because of content but because of the tags that have been used. In this instance you would consider the tags that were used as misleading and deceitful to the visitor. There is no difference between a Splog doing it and a legitimate blog, it is spam. It is misleading to the community and makes your contributions to that community less useful and meaningful than they otherwise could be. In addition to the possible assumptions that you may well be Tag Dragging for hits and not on letting your content do that for you. Good content drives traffic and tags help place that content in context. Mix those two up and you will loose you creditability and respect in the blogosphere and your work will repulse readers because of it’s lack of relevance to them.

I see one of the drawbacks to tagging is the fact that different words mean different things to different people. However the association can usually be made between the words used in tags with a bit of thought from the reader. It may not have been a connection that the reader had made but one that can be seen and associated with the post by the reader. Sure occasionally an abstract term will pop up in a post. However, due to the abstract nature of the tag and the frequency of use; the tag becomes irrelevant to the wider community and is more relevant to the author. Excessive and frequent indiscriminate unrelated tagging is far worse than the odd strange association or concept.

For example; the prevelance of specific tags or tag used inappropreatly could cause the WordPress Tag Cloud to be skewed in a deceptive manner that was not representative of the posts that were being made in this community. This would result in the relevance and usefulness of said cloud to diminish and potentially become useless as members of this community loose trust in the relevance it might have to them. Although this is unlikely as this outcome would rely on a good majority of this community using inappropriate tags, the same ones and multiple times on different posts.

In an article that I read as a part of my research I found an excellent guide as to what makes a good tag. There were some interesting points raised in relation to tagging for a community and maintaining tag relevance to that community. The most glaringly obvious one to me was:

Observe the norms of the network. Pay attention to tagging conventions followed by other members of the network, and if they make sense to you, adopt them. Lots of good ideas can come from observing the tagging practices of others.

– Ideant: Tag Literacy

Do as they do in other words. So that got me thinking as to what is the “norm” here at WordPress or in your own blogging community. I believe that as individual bloggers we have the responsibility to tag appropriately for the posts that we write. This is of benefit to this community and the blogosphere at large. I know that the opinion of some might be that “I can tag any way I like, it is my blog and I do not care how it affects this or any other community”. If that is the case then we are worse off for your opinion and we will be plagued by your pestilence of useless, irrelevant tags. Not to mention stall development of the symantic web and technological advance in addition to promoting the cultural relevance and acceptance of blogs as a “source” within the digital media revolution.

The community drives the relevance of the tags that it generates. We as a community determine how useful our tags are to us. However, we should also remember that the tags are viewable by non-WordPress users. I don’t know about you but I would rather make WordPress a place that visitors can come to as a source of relevant content. We can do that by thinking about how we as a community are representing ourselves in the tags that we choose. That is if you have any concern about what people think collectively of “bloggers at WordPress” then think about the contextual relevance of your tagging practices. Call it our collective public presence.

The aim of this post was not an in-depth study of tagging. Rather some thoughts and some encouragement for you as a blogger to think about how you tag your posts and how such a step affects this community. Both the perceptions of this community and you as a blogger. I know that I am looking at tagging in a very different way than I did before tapping out this post. If you would like to read more then I would suggest the following resources as a place to start:

Within the theme of this post, this tag cloud is of this post and generated by TagCrowd:

Tag Cloud

Submit Your Best Posts

Don’t forget WordPress.com users that you can submit what you think is your best stuff to the FanPop WordPress.com spot.

For that matter if any visitor to WordPress sees a great post then submit it to FanPop. Someone might not think to do it or underestimates their work. Visitors to WordPress; feel free to head over and cast your rank for the stories there.

FanPop Logo for Blog Posts

To make life easier for WordPress.com users I created a small logo for linking to the FanPop page for WordPress, it you want it then please feel free to download it and place it in your posts. You will need to link it to the page or wherever you like – it is just an image. Or you may find some other use for it, perhaps in the sidebar or something. I got the original from the FanPop Blog, if you want to have a bigger one.

It is good to see that there are more of us getting into the FanPop page. Plus after having a poke around the FanPop site it is actually a very good site I am glad that I joined. Keep it up and we will have a nice way to see some of the best posts on WordPress.com. Also please visit //engtech who’s idea it was.

I think that it is also an extension of the great community here at WordPress. It would be good to think in the long term that a good solution is found “in-house”. But I don’t think that is going to happen in a hurry. This is a great alternative until then and lets the admins know what WordPress users would like to see.

Just so you know, I am going into the quiet part of the week. This is the few days where the podcast is prepared for, recorded, edited and all the other stuff that goes with it. So the blog is a tad quiet over this time. But that means that you have to keep an eye out for the next installment of The Global Geek Podcast!