Piperka blog

Rethinking the tagging system

The categories system, as it stands now, is something of an afterthought. It's mostly there since there's supposed to be one. Nor has it been integrated with any of the other site functionality. The categories are just something that sit there on the info page, along with the comic's description. I'm planning on changing this and to make the tags into an actually useful feature. Most prominently, this would be a first step in finally implementing a real search for Piperka. I can tell that people have a difficult time finding comics on Piperka, since I see comics submitted under alternate names from time to time.

Reworking the tagging system would, of course, involve changes to the code. Much of that would be invisible to most users, but I was thinking of restructuring the tags itself, too. They cover a rather random and limited collection of concepts, currently, and I'd like to improve on that. I wouldn't want to copy what Piperka would use from some other site straight off, but there's certainly a limit to how much originality I could put into them. I want to expand what I have now, but I don't want to just dump everything from TV Tropes into them.

I was thinking of grouping the tags hierarchically. I'd welcome discussion about how well this scheme would work, and just how to use it. I'll name a few examples of the kinds of tags I would use and a few comics they would apply to.

Genre

Perhaps the most obvious one. genre::sci-fi, genre::fantasy and so on. This would allow for subgenres too, like genre::sci-fi::steampunk (Girl Genius). I'll need to do something about the old "fantasy" tag, since plenty of mismatched things have ended up under that one, mostly due to the lack of better ones.

Advisory

This one's for things like advisory::graphic violence. The old "adult" tag would go here too, but that one really ought to be split to several categories. Some age related rating might go under this one.

Archetype

And now for something different. I'm not sure what would be an appropriate name for this hierarchy, but this would be the place for archetype::elves. I admit that the "elves" tag started as something of a joke one time when I had added a few comics to Piperka, all of which featured them. But I wouldn't want to remove this tag now that I'm (supposedly) starting to get serious about Piperka, but to expand on the idea. Who wouldn't want to know whether a comic had recurring character types like robots (Diesel Sweeties), vampires (All Roses Have Thorns), ninjas (The Adventures of Dr McNinja) or pirates (Cheshire Crossing) in them.

Art

Not meant to judge anyone's artistic skills. Some comics just go for a certain style, like art::stick figure (xkcd), art::manga style (Megatokyo) or art::cgi (The Challenges of Zona). Others include art::photo, art::photo::lego and art::photo::figurine.

Format

For things like format::gag-a-day and format::episodic.

Setting

This one's a bit generic. setting::historical (Cerintha) (or would it be setting::period?) is a likely candidate, but I'd expect this group to have subcategories, mostly.

Locality

The place(s) where things happen. For example setting::locality::urban (Gone with the Blastwave), setting::locality::wilderness (Wandering Ones) and setting::locality::space (Outsider), and even setting::locality::virtual reality (Not A Villain). This might end up overlapping with the genre category, since sometimes they imply a certain locality. Like genre::sci-fi::space opera.

I'm not sure if I should put geographical locations under this one too. It's a pretty significant part of some comics that the things in there happen in, say, Japan. setting::locality::eastern (Dear Korea? Somehow it feels too specific compared to what I listed above. setting::culture::eastern might work better. Or "oriental" instead of "eastern"?

There are still a few things I don't quite know how to place. Religion is one. topic::religion (Holy Bibble)? Perhaps it could be something under genre. Also, topic::politics.

There would be room for letting users to add their own free form tags to comics and their own reviews and comments, or even for discussions, but that's something for another time. Even then, there would be a need for some official (such as it is) categorization and description for a comic.

Of course, once I get this all implemented, someone would need to go through all the comics and reassign the categories. I'm hoping that I could crowdsource that part and let the moderators sift through it all. For now, I wanted to lay out my ideas and hopefully get feedback on them. Do head to reddit for discussion or email me.

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Sat, 09 Jul 2011 14:14:23 UTC