The Mystery of the (tag) Cloud of Unknowing

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Amazing how working on the back end of a blog can eat up your days. This weekend, I started with the idea of going ahead with “tagging,” an endeavor which some say is now a worthless time waster but other gurus claim is still a valid part of any blog worth its blogness. So I figured, why not?

Well, after about 16 hours of work, I’ve gotten this far. Yeah, most tag clouds are fairly specific and just use the main subject words of the blog. But in our case, with around 2,000 blog posts and fairly varied backcountry skiing subject matter, I started with an auto-tagger that used artificial intelligence to pick out a tag list. It didn’t work that well, and saddled me with more than 5,000 tags which I then hand edited down to about 1,000.

For something different, I left in most of the people names, as part of WildSnow’s mission is to document the history of our sport, and that means people. This might not be the correct approach, as it results in a large cloud of tags, many of which only have one associated post. But since this is really just done to help the search engines, why not? I mean, even without most of the people names I’d still have a few hundred tags so it would be huge anyway. The project is ongoing but I thought some of you WildSnowers might be amused. The truncated “cloud” is in our left sidebar. I tried publishing all below but it made no sense…


10 Responses to “The Mystery of the (tag) Cloud of Unknowing”

  1. Jason August 17th, 2009 12:03 pm

    LOL! It’s funny that backcountry is the BIG one. Go figure.

  2. pete anzalone August 17th, 2009 4:24 pm

    I noticed the left sidebar stuff last night and thought it was an interesting and fun way to browse past posts. I think its a good addition. May I suggest placing the posting date near the top of the post (perhaps just under its title).

  3. Lou August 17th, 2009 5:13 pm

    Yeah, only problem is that those auto-tags are literal, so they miss a lot of posts that should be tagged with the same tag, but they are indeed kinda cool. Remember another way to browse is via the categories in the right sidebar.

  4. Dostie August 17th, 2009 9:27 pm

    Look Ma, I’m somebody, I’m somebody, I’ve been tagged at :wink:

  5. Lou August 18th, 2009 6:26 am

    Funny what the auto tagger stuck in there :angel: it has a mind of its own!

  6. Mark W August 18th, 2009 9:16 am

    I’m in there somewhere, but it’s a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Any way to sort the tags alphabetically?

  7. Lou August 18th, 2009 10:15 am

    Mark, if you’re not in there, you should be! The tags in this post are just a snapshot, the ones to left are sorted somewhat randomly and it’s only the first 200 or so out of around 1,000. It’s fun to play around with, but really just for the search engines.

  8. Andrew McLean August 20th, 2009 9:53 am

    I couldn’t find “guns” or “poaching the wilderness” in there. ?? Maybe under code names?


  9. Lou August 20th, 2009 11:20 am

    Andrew, you are correct, but it’s Freudian :silly: that you are the one who looked !

    I’ll add guns just for fun, but probably leave out poaching as that’s usually applied to illegal hunting…

  10. Lou August 20th, 2009 11:23 am

    I added “guns” and the autotagger tagged 10 posts… I hope the NRA now comes knocking with big funding :angel:

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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