Tag Cloud WTF



  • No, this isn't about the TDWTF forums tag cloud.

    I'm working on a site for a client who wanted tagged content and a tag cloud. That's fairly standard, except they didn't like our idea of how it should be implemented.

    We told them that most tag clouds work that way: the font size of each tag should be (roughly) proportional to the number of content items with that tag.

    But they didn't like that, because they were lacking in the kind of content that their visitors wanted, and our tag cloud implementation showed that up and made them look bad.

    So we devised an implementation they would agree on: The font size of each tag is now proportional to the number of times visitors click on it.

    Absolute genius! The tag cloud now makes it look like they have exactly the content visitors want! And bigger tags are more likely to be clicked on, which makes them proportionally even bigger, leading to a situation of positive feedback and rendering the logs (yes, we have a database table logging EVERY tag click) fairly meaningless.



  • I don't see any WTF.  This is just a "most requested" tag cloud, rather than a "we happen to have the most of this content" tag cloud.

    Lots of websites show things like "most emailed", "most read", "most popular", and by doing so, they probably do cause those things to be become even more popular, but again, that's pretty standard.

    Why wouldn't a website want to promote its most popular (i.e., most often requested) content?

     



  • That is true, but I think it's misleading to use that implementation without pointing out to site visitors that it is based on popularity and not the amount of content.

    Also, it's not even a true representation of the most popular content, because it doesn't use the full page view statistics for the content, it ONLY counts a view if you actually click on the tag cloud. Bizarre implementation imo.



  • @gherkin said:

    That is true, but I think it's misleading to use that implementation without pointing out to site visitors that it is based on popularity and not the amount of content.
     

    I would agree with that; just a heading about the tag cloud reading "Most Popular" or something like that would be a good idea. I never really noticed -- do most tag clouds indicate exactly what it is they are indicating?   (I dont' really like tag clouds, kinda ugly ... )



  • It's a self-fulling prophecy, essentially, and that makes the tag cloud suck.  However, it's not really a WTF because the company is doing this intentionally to alter their image with viewers.  So it's not an unreasonable idea born out of bureaucracy or ignorance, but instead a reasonable idea born out of a slight bit of deception. 



  • I guess in the eyes of the client it's a complete success, so you're right, not really a WTF there.

    I still think that logging the clicks on the tags in the cloud is a small WTF, or at least a myopic and overcomplicating decision, when page view statistics could be used just as easily and without the need for an extra database table.



  • @gherkin said:

    I guess in the eyes of the client it's a complete success, so you're right, not really a WTF there.

    I still think that logging the clicks on the tags in the cloud is a small WTF, or at least a myopic and overcomplicating decision, when page view statistics could be used just as easily and without the need for an extra database table.

     

    Agreed.  Are you positive they don't want to include page views?  They might have described their requirements as "how often people click on the tags in the cloud", but they may not have literally meant that.



  • @gherkin said:

    We told them that most tag clouds work that way: the font size of each tag should be (roughly) proportional to the number of content items with that tag.

    I'm just curious - why copy this idea from everyone else? It looks terrible and is hard to use. Isn't the point of the font size varying so that you can see which tags have the most content (or in the case of your client which are most popular)? Why not just present a nice looking, but sorted list. And maybe even let the user decide if they want to see your ranking or some other ranking? Seeing a big mess of text with hundreds of words, all different sizes, just looks terrible to me. Am I the only one?



  • @dcardani said:

    Why not just present a nice looking, but sorted list. And maybe even let the user decide if they want to see your ranking or some other ranking? Seeing a big mess of text with hundreds of words, all different sizes, just looks terrible to me. Am I the only one?
     

    I completely agree.  I hate tag clouds; not necessarily the idea, but the way they are typically presented.



  • They wanted a tag cloud for 2 reasons:

    • Search engine optimisation
    • Because it looks cool and up-to-date and Web 2.0-ish (lame reason)

    Tag clouds can look awfully messy if not carefully implemented, but this one actually looks ok. The tags aren't too close together, there's enough space between the lines, they're in a minimal box with a curved border.

    As for why the clicks on the tags are logged instead of the page views... I can only guess the alternative just did not occur to the developer who did this.



  • @dcardani said:

    @gherkin said:
    We told them that most tag clouds work that way: the font size of each tag should be (roughly) proportional to the number of content items with that tag.

    I'm just curious - why copy this idea from everyone else? It looks terrible and is hard to use. Isn't the point of the font size varying so that you can see which tags have the most content (or in the case of your client which are most popular)? Why not just present a nice looking, but sorted list. And maybe even let the user decide if they want to see your ranking or some other ranking? Seeing a big mess of text with hundreds of words, all different sizes, just looks terrible to me. Am I the only one?

    Sorted Lists are not web2.0.  Lern2web2.0



  • @belgariontheking said:

    Sorted Lists are not web2.0.  Lern2web2.0
     

    If I were cool/clever enough to use that neat "lern2" thingy I'd probably write something like "lern-2-read-the-previous-reply-that-already-said-that" -- but I know I could never pull it off....  :)



  • Tag clouds are generally rendered in alphabetical order with varying font size because this allows for a list you can actually find things in if you didn't already know if it would be in the list or not (and without using CTRL+F).You put the list in any other order and essentially are guaranteeing that if the user can't find what they want, they have to read every single f****** option to find it or rule out its existence. Not every browser has Firefox style text searching; I don't really want to sit and tab through IE's Ctrl+F until i find the word because it was put in some other order. And I don't want to have to reload the page or cloud to resort because it was sorted in some odd way. 

    Tag clouds are meant to be simple and small yet packed with meaning. If you want a full blown statistical analysis of page content, popularity, and tagging, you would display a statistics page full screen, not a sidebar quick-links tag cloud.

    edit:  censored myself, for the kiddie scripters.



  • @dcardani said:

    Am I the only one?
    Yes.



  • @dcardani said:

    Am I the only one?
     

    No. 



  • @darkmattar said:

    Tag clouds are generally rendered in alphabetical order with varying font size because this allows for a list you can actually find things in if you didn't already know if it would be in the list or not (and without using CTRL+F).You put the list in any other order and essentially are guaranteeing that if the user can't find what they want, they have to read every single f****** option to find it or rule out its existence. Not every browser has Firefox style text searching; I don't really want to sit and tab through IE's Ctrl+F until i find the word because it was put in some other order. And I don't want to have to reload the page or cloud to resort because it was sorted in some odd way. 

    Tag clouds are meant to be simple and small yet packed with meaning. If you want a full blown statistical analysis of page content, popularity, and tagging, you would display a statistics page full screen, not a sidebar quick-links tag cloud.

    edit:  censored myself, for the kiddie scripters.

     

    I think we all understand what tag clouds are and how they work.  The point is simply that the information that tag clouds are conveying could be visually implemented different ways, instead of just a list of words of wildly varying font-sizes.  You could use shades of colors, or show stars or icons next to the words, and so on -- I am not a creative-UI type but given this task I bet a good designer could come up with a dozen classy, clean presentations that would be easy on the eyes and also functional.  There are definitely more visually appealing ways to present popular tags rather than a jumble of words of different sizes, even if that list of words is nicely sorted alphabetically.



  • @Jeff S said:

    You could use shades of colors, or show stars or icons next to the words

    I don't starstar that's starstar starstar a good idea.... ;)



  • @dtech said:

    @Jeff S said:

    You could use shades of colors, or show stars or icons next to the words

    I don't starstar that's starstar starstar a good idea.... ;)

     

    That's exactly what I had in mind! 



  • @dcardani said:

    @gherkin said:
    We told them that most tag clouds work that way: the font size of each tag should be (roughly) proportional to the number of content items with that tag.
    I'm just curious - why copy this idea from everyone else? It looks terrible and is hard to use. Isn't the point of the font size varying so that you can see which tags have the most content (or in the case of your client which are most popular)? Why not just present a nice looking, but sorted list. And maybe even let the user decide if they want to see your ranking or some other ranking? Seeing a big mess of text with hundreds of words, all different sizes, just looks terrible to me. Am I the only one?

    No, I hate tag clouds. Welcome to the brotherhood.


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