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Glen Pitt-Pladdy :: Blog

Tag me not!

I haven't had a chance to develop this blog much this month, let alone write about the blog platform or anything else for that matter. Today I am catching up.

Back to basics

Tags where getting a bit of a pain. I confess - they would be far easier handled by a database where I could offload all the details to a database and for the traffic I would be seeing, not bother about it any further.

Taking another step back, I realised that tags don't really play that much of an important job other than indexing and searching articles. The other thing is that with conventional tagging, I am trusting visitors on the site to add tags and make the system work - problem is that very few good people contribute to such things, and many bad people (spammers etc.) would take advantage.

What I really want is for me to decide on the tags (ie. just like old fashioned meta keywords) - that way the tags would be most accurate, and do the best job (assuming I was honest, which fortunately I am!)

Trouble is, that could turn into a lot of hassle in the long run. Better yet, if I could understand the things that people where looking for to find my articles...... well that's not difficult!

Google for tags

Search engines like Google are very effective at indexing genuine content. While people may have tricks for getting higher rankings, at the end of the day, a good informative article is the gold that search engine bots seek.

When visitors hit an article, they often pass the referrer URL (where they are coming from) to the site. This is very useful information for optimising sites, and essentially gives a free list of real keywords people are coming to an article for. By collecting these, I would end up with a self tagging blog.

There is always the chance of abuse - it would be trivial to script up a bot to poison blogs with false search referrers. There is already plenty of referrer spam about, and this would just be a new vector, but I think that on a popular blog, the number of legitimate search engine referrers would far outweigh the spam.  Simply by setting a threshold on tags we allow that they have to say be the top 20% would probably mean that the effort spammers have to put in far out weights the benefits.

Why?

This is all good stuff, but why do I actually want tags in the first place?

I don't have a good answer for that, and I don't think they would contribute to this blog significantly at this stage. The result - I have removed tags from the site. There are places that they would be useful, but on a blog platform like this they are unnecessary complexity.

What next?

There are some things that I think would be good to have. One of the key ones would be to encourage feedback and interaction from readers. I very simple messaging system like "shout boxes" may work for this. It's something I may consider.

I also think that a basic photo gallery engine would be useful and I may try do that sometime soon.

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