Tags Done Right…the Technorati Way

My pal, Casey, posted an article about tagging. His topic is right, the implementation he is using for Technorati tagging is a bit off as it only accomplishes half of what is needed and may be misleading (luckily his implementation is in alpha testing). He states:

Flickr does tags better than any other, so far as I can tell.

[…]

Take “road trip” as an example. What one tagger thinks is two words might be just “roadtrip” to another. This is where Flickr’s tag indexing does it right: we still have to pick the right words (and spelling), but we don’t have to worry about spaces or punctuation.

So, when I tag a photo “Mt. Moosilauke,” Flickr stores the both text I enter as well as a version in all lower-case, without spaces or punctuation: “mtmoosilauke.” And when you search for “Mt. Moosilauke,” you get the same results as your neighbor searching for “mt moosilauke.”

Casey has modified his excellent WordPress stat tracking/tagging/everything else you could ever want plugin, bsuite, to place Technorati tags at the bottom of posts in that fashion. So, I could enter the following as tags in my post:

<tags>squirrel handed people, bologna, large elephants taste good with cheese</tags>

His plugin would display the tags (and thus, ping Technorati) as:

<tags>squirrelhandedpeople, bologna, largeelephantstastegoodwithcheese</tags>

Neat feature, but there is one issue. Technorati tags don’t work that way. If I wanted to search for WordPress, I would get a whole set of different results than if I had searched for Word press or even “Word Press”. Which is right? Well, the user community drives what is right so…all three. We can make the assumption that many users will enter their search terms in many different ways depending on where/how they learned about tagging.

I quote my tags. One of my friends doesn’t. Casey likes to omit spaces.

Casey is right in that Flickr did it correctly from the start. But when working with Technorati its a whole other ball game. Bsuite, in my opinion, should either leave tagging stories as the user enters them OR when displaying tags and pinging Technorati, all possibilities need to be accounted for. Luckily there are only the 3 main types:

  1. Tags with spaces
  2. Tagswithnospaces
  3. and “Tags in quotes”

I am pleased to say that option 3 – “Tags in quotes” – happily replaces all punctuation with a single space. So I could write the following and it’d all be the same:

“Tags in quotes”
“Tags+in+quotes”
“Tags-in_quotes!”
etc.

The moral of the story: There may be a correct way to implement a base feature…but when you are relying on a separate web service to manage that base feature, you need to adhere to their standards to optimize your results…and in the mean time beg them to change it. Tonight I will be meeting with Casey and hopefully bend his Bsuite Beta tag implementation to my will!

bstat Search Cloud

Casey over at MaisonBisson has developed a sweet WordPress plugin called bstat. I’ve been using it since I installed WordPress as my blog. Well, one thing that is missing from the plugin that I decided I wanted was a search cloud (like a tag cloud, only for incoming searches)… I recently created a tag cloud on MasterWish so decided to use that. Here’s the function.

Special Functions

  • bstat_search_cloud

Usage:

bstat_search_cloud(post_id, maxresults, days, starting_font_size);

  • post_id is the post_id for the story, usually provided by a WP variable. A value of 0 is used for grabbing all search terms from any post
  • maxresults is the number of search terms you wish to retrieve
  • days is the number of days back to look
  • starting_font_size is the starting font size of the smallest search term

Example:


<h3>All incoming search terms for this post</h3>
<small>< ?php bstat_search_cloud(0,50); ?></small>

MMORPG Laws

My pal Casey over at MaisonBisson.com has made a follow up post to my MMORPG Cheating post. I figured it warranted me making another post rather than simply replying to his blog. He writes:

Matt says my attempts to analogize online roleplaying games to more familiar contests like chess or automobile racing are “just silly.” But his response appears to reinforce my point rather than refute it. It is the responsibility of the gamers and gaming organizations to create and enforce rules. People violating those rules are subject to sanctions by the gaming organization first, but it’s hard to imagine how any contestant who follows the rules of a (legal) game can be subject to legal sanction.

I spoke with Casey in person this past Saturday about this exact topic (as we have butted heads on it for some time now). We discussed our differing views and gave examples on each side of the table. Casey stated that my arguments for game law should only be handled with some sort of governing body; much like the Scrabble Association, World Chess Federation, etc. After our discussion I have had a slight change of heart…for in-game happenings.

But what happens when someone from the outside world affects the in-game world? In my article “World of Warcrack and the Future of MMOGs” I explain a case when a non-player logged into her boyfriend’s account and deleted his items. What would be the ruling on cases such as those? Would they warrant arresting, fines, etc? Or should they be written off and have the owner of the character be forced to suck it up and spend another 1000+ hours creating and leveling a new character?

If someone that is not a part of NASCAR goes and steals, breaks down, and sells Jeff Gordon’s car…that person will face criminal charges and/or fines from the judicial system. What about Jon Doe who has a level 60 character in World of Warcraft emptied of all its items by a third party and that third party sells said items on E-Bay or through a reseller?

Its another beast altogether. Casey and I have both been wrong and right with our differing viewpoints. What we have been doing is lumping two categories of MMO offenses together. The in-game offenses and the offenses caused by non-game members to the game members. I was generically stating that ALL actions whether in and out may eventually need to be handled from some sort of legislation…and likewise he had lumped all actions together and disagreed saying that it should only be handled by an game-related governing body (the company that produces the game…or an association from multiple MMOs).

I still hold that as MMOGs become more and more popular these two distinct offenses will need to be addressed…but when and how?

(image found at http://www.abetterearth.org)

MMORPG Cheating

My friend Casey over at MaisonBisson posted an article (Wide World of Video Games) where he shoots down the ideas of laws that are being built around MMORPGs and the reasons behind them. I don’t entirely agree with his statement:

One argument is that these games occupy players time and cost money, so in-game theft results in real-life loss. Baloney. Chess and Monopoly occupy great deals of time, but try telling the cops I rooked your knight. Money? A huge number of Americans invest time and money on building and racing cars on the approximately 1800 racetracks around the country. Real time and and hard-earned money are lost when cars crash, but the track has its own rules[…]

First, comparing Chess and Monopoly to MMORPGs is just silly. Yes they are both games, but they aren’t even the same caliber! Thats like saying a helium-filled balloon is the same as a state fair. You can get enjoyment from both a baloon and a state fair, but there is a huge cost difference, a difference in the level of participation by large numbers of people, activities in one that don’t exist in the other, etc.

Secondly, the racecar analogy falls through the roof once a little background info on racing is dug up. Yes, cars cost a crap ton of money to construct, fund, and race and it is expected that you will inevitably break something and/or crash. Its all part of the game. But what happens when that crash is intentionally caused by another player? You see, when once racecar driver causes an accident on purpose, there are repercussions…fines anywhere from $100-10,000 to both the speedway AND the ‘targets of destruction’, suspension, loss of championship points (whatever those are), permanent banning, etc. Check these references if you wish :

In an MMORPG, you purchase and play the game (within the rules) and assume others will do the same. But what happens when someone cheats -using bots, hacks, etc- to best you at something and take your hard earned items? When I say hard earned, those items can have 1000+ hours of play time behind them, 5 months of paying $15/month, etc.

Should there be repercussions for MMORPG cheating? Perhaps. I’m not sold either way but to write it off so quickly is just ludicrous. As MMORPGs grow in popularity and become a larger beast in our society, the world will be faced with larger numbers of people that will want justice for in-game theft, in-game cheating, etc. How will society draw the line and where will we put it?

Google Maps – Katrina

For those of you that are following Hurricane Katrina problems in New Orleans, you may be interested in this… Google has taken satellite imagery of New Orleans (imagery taken August 31st). To get to this information, go to Google Maps and do a search for New Orleans. Drag and zoom to the area and a Red “Katrina” button will appear at the top right of the map.

For more information on the devastating Hurricane Katrina, head on over to Wikipedia. For more information on Google Maps, I’d suggest heading over to MaisonBisson.com and NoSheep!. Oh, and google also did some satellite imagery of the Moon Landing Site. Check out NoSheep! for more information on that. (note, with google moon, zoom all the way in)