21 February 2005

Human Interface quirks on various XML support platforms


Thank you for your free services


Had some thoughts on things and thought I would share them with the blogosphere. These aren't necessarily feature requests, they're simply examples of things that I look at when evaluating user interface.


Interface Criteria One

Easy use


One thing I've noticed with the platforms is they sometimes don't do some obvious things. Then again, what may be obvious to one is not obvious to another.

Let's take a look at the online NewsGator, where it is far easier to add a feed than Bloglines. NewsGator's strength is its simplicity and cleanliness. One thing I've noticed is how easy it is to adjust folders.

There is one strange quirk. The key button to manage the folder isn't the same one for adding a feed. I'm still puzzled why these aren't both combined into a common area. Also, it’s not all that obvious where the edit-folder option is.

As opposed to opening a new button [on the horizontal bar], it would be nice if the edit and foldering-function was located where one might add a feed: Collocation of common tasks, or a quick link where we add the feed to the foddering and feed management option.


LEGAL NOTICE


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

You may not copy any of this work to promote a commercial product on any site or medium in the universe.

If you see this work posted on a commercial site, it violates the creative commons license; and the author does not endorse the commercial product.

Free to use for non-commercial uses. Link to this original blogspot and cite as .



Interface Criteria Two

Clearly distinguishable feeds


Technorati’s watch lists are easy to add and reliable. They also have an embedded name that follows the feed into NewsGator. However, PubSub, despite having the ability to name the feed simply reports as a generic feed.

I prefer the Technorati-Newsgator approach, as opposed to the PubSub-NewsGator one. I like being able to look at the specific name of the feed. It helps identify what the feed is. Then the feed-name-update option [if it exists in NewsGator] isn’t all that obvious where it is.

Again, if this feature is available, would be nice if it was co-located in the feed-folder-management. On the other hand, perhaps PubSub has another thought on why Technorati appears to be able to assign a name automatically to a feed and report into NewsGator, while PubSub is not as clear.


Interface Criteria Three

Quick feature location and selection


One thing that is nice about click-all options is the ability to click everything and do a universal task. NewsGator does this nicely. However, there’s one quirk with the tool.

There are cases where users may have a long list of feeds they want to assign to a folder. Rather than click on them one-by-one, there is the option to click everything, then de-select what we don’t want to move.

Sounds simple. Click once for everything, the de-select those few that are not on the list. Ideally, the SELECT-ALL buttons had the ability to select all, combined with the ability to DE-SELECT a few that are not to be moved, deleted, or worked with.

In the case of NewsGator, users can select everything, but there isn’t this feature: To then de-select a few items. Rather, once users select everything, then all items shade to a dark gray, and there’s no way to de-select a couple of items.

Specifically, it would be nice if the SELECT-ALL permitted users to de-select a couple of items. That way users could select many feeds quickly, the de-select the few that they do not want to work with. This is just a convenience, as opposed to moving a long-list-of-feeds one at a time.


Interface Criteria Four

Search capability, and indexing


Lately, I’ve been looking into the integration issues between tag search tools and XML feeds. I’ll save that for another day. [In short, it is interesting that the W3 requirements in re templates and XML searches were finalized about 6 years ago, but in 2005 we still have most platforms that don’t offer XML buttons for the search results. Kind of like issuing e-mail newsletters to talk about XML. LOL]

One thing I would like to bring up is a concern I have. Currently, there are many people who are discussing the merits of bookmarking, social bookmarks. These are going to be valuable when managing feeds, URLs, and tagging.

My concern is that appears as though the bookmark index might be going backwards. In the idea world, when users have many bookmarks saved, it’s nice to be able to search them. Which is possible.

Also, the idea of social bookmarks is that other users can search other lists of bookmarks easily.

I like the furl approach. It is easy to find things. But furl is a little confusing on how to move a selected item in another’s list, and moving it to another area, like my list. It would be helpful if there were some mouse-over commands indicating what to do, or how to accomplish the tasks. Perhaps there are some obvious directions on how to accomplish this task, but I’m not readily able to find them.

Let’s consider del.icio.us. They’ve gotten a lot of attention lately with tagging. There are many other tools that integrate. This is nice.

My concern is that it doesn’t appear as though del.icio.us supports searches all that well. First, it’s not all that clear how to search. I was reading one blog that says the universal search in del.icio.us was deactivated. I tried it out both signed in and signed out. Sure enough, I can’t search everything, just my own.

Kind of got me thinking about the idea of a social bookmark. How are users finding things in del.icio.us if there is no apparent search capability within the platform? I’ve looked around on the web for other tools, found a few that display nice charts and data about who’s doing what.

But it is interesting that the actual platform that might otherwise be a major proponent of tagging doesn’t appear to support this simple search feature. At best, I have to find another tool [take Durl.com, for example] that might do something similar.

The other thing I’ve noticed with del.icio.us is that despite many tools integrating with it, it’s not clear where users are supposed to go to even search their own links. Sure, I’ve figured it out, but in the ideal user-world, it would be nice if there was a button on the horizontal bar that simply says SEARCH.

Also, it would be nice if there were some notices about the search, how to do it. Again, I can read another blot on how to do it. However, it would be nice if this was located on the platform.

In short, unless del.icio.us says otherwise on their platform, I’m now at a loss as to why del.icio.us gets the rave about being social bookmarking. I have to use an external tool to search; and at best, I have to know the tag to search del.icio.us.

The reason I use a search is that I don’t know the tags, and am trying to find something. Again, I have to use another index to find what the words are that people might be using as a tag, then assign that name to the deli.cio.us URL.

I’m glad that I have a bookmark system that allows me to easily move bookmarks and search them.

Keep the above in mind when developing FeedMesh. I’m surprised that we’re talking about creating tools to integrate feeds [which is good], while at the same time we see platforms removing tools that make the original tools attractive.

Let’s make sure that FeedMesh is able to work with systems that may be going in the opposite direction: Removing capabilities that might otherwise encourage people to use feeds. [Feeds and links should support XML efforts in harmony]


Interface Criteria Five

Tools that work, with explanations on how to make them work


I’m been experimenting with the tags in Technorati. They’re nice. It’s neat to be able to find others who have used the same tags. I’ve found some things in foreign languages that I would otherwise have never found using Google.

As it stands, it looks as though tags in Technorati are more sophisticated than those in the other platforms. Namely, Technorati allows users to have spaces between tags, and it still shows up in the indexes. This is nice, as users can have a tag that is a sentence, or one with multiple concepts.

However, one of the tag-creation tools that Technorati has doesn’t support this. It’s not an official Technorati product, just one of those links on the wiki that someone was kind enough to share.

When I put spaces in my tag and use this tool, guess what happens? Each word of my single tag, turns into a separately coded tag. I’ve figured out how to make a correct tag, so it’s no problem.

However, as I’ve been digging into the tags more, I’ve noticed there are some things that some people may not know. As most people know I like to use apostrophes in my tests. Typically, I get back-slashes when I add these.

In the case of Technorati, I’m still not clear why there’s a problem with valid tags reporting in one case, but not in others. Specifically, I have noticed that I can make a tag that has spaces [my multi-word tag], but when it comes to using apostrophes, somehow the tag doesn’t report.

I’ve been using one tag of MUD’S TESTS for a while, and things aren’t showing up. I’ve adjusted the ping-rate, and even ensured I’m publishing only one blog at a time. No luck.

Clearly, there are some rules on how to use tags that I’m not aware. Again, from the user perspective it is interesting that the del.icio.us tags are single-words, while Technorati does support multi-word-tags with spaces.

It would be nice if there was a place on the Technorati instructions that discussed the specific rules of tags: Whether spaces are or are not allowed; what type of syntax is or is not acceptable; and the signs that a valid tag is not reporting correctly.

Clearly, the issue could be that a user’s platform may or may not have correct codes in their template [as an option]. However, if this is the case, it remains unclear to me why common problems with a particular blog-tag interface protocol are not displayed and disused.

NewsGator does a nice job at outlining how each of the various major bogging platforms can add the voting-balloons to their comment template. I would encourage Technorati to look at Newscaster’s example.

Take a look at how NewsGator goes down the steps for adding the code. It’s very orderly. Perhaps there are some similar lessons learned that the Technorati Team may have gleaned in re Tagging and Template-updates that major bogging platforms might be able to learn from.

Technorati would be enhanced if it was clear whether loggers have to change their template to make the tags work in all cases. At this juncture, it remains unclear why the tags do not report despite the valid ping and feed.

It would be helpful if Technorati does what NewsGator does and be very specific with the adjustments, if any, required in the template; or perhaps some discussion and public understanding of what tags will and will not report based on spaces, format, or other factors. At this point, I cannot give anything specific as I am not getting consistent results to point to.

Again, the issue is that the Tagging rules and lessons aren’t necessarily consistent between Del.icio.us and Technorati. If there are things that the users need to be adjusting in their template like NewsGator has discussed, it would be interesting to read these on the Technorati site, or have a link to one of the Technorati Team members. Ideally, the information would be on the main Technorati platform.

NewsGator: Where to place the voting-bubble code

As an aside for NewsGator, I would encourage Greg’s team to take a look at the steps to add the bubble. In adding the code to BLOGGER, it is more precise to say that the code is to be added to the bottom of the comment section near the e-mail, as opposed to saying that the code needs to be added to the footer.

In blogger the comments are in the main body, while the footer is outside, and a second area. I blindly followed the instructions and found my NewsGator comment-bubbles literally off the screen in left field.

If NewsGator wants to look at my blog-code or link to it as an example feel free. I would encourage the instructions to be very specific in that the code needs to be added near the e-mail, and avoid using footer in the remark.


Interface Criteria Six

Ease in organizing content


Technorati allows users to add watch lists. Would be nice if there was a way to organize those watch lists into groups, like NewsGator does.

NewsGator has something called clipping where users can save information and even put that into a feed. That’s really nice. Flickr also has the same type of thing.

Content publishers can create a feed for their images in Clicker. One thing that Flickr is looking at and others have requested are options for users to separate the clipped-images into separate files; then create a user-created feed for that clipped file.

However, the feed-creation tools are not available for the end-user. We may see a time when Flickr allows users to make a feed of their favorite-clipped photos, and also make separate files for their clipped-favorite-images. We’ll have to see.

Getting back to NewsGator, I’d encourage NewsGator’s team to look at the discussions on Flickr about the various folders that the public might want to create; and also keep on top on the discussions about feeds-for-clipped-photos.

It may be a little early, given that NewsGator online is getting wider demand and the number of people clipping files may not be high. However, there may be a point when the interest shown in Flickr-clipping-files-feeds might spill into NewsGator. We’ll have to see.

On the other hand, if this feature is already available on NewsGator [create folders for clippings; and separate feeds for each clipped folder] it’s not clear to me how to do this.

Again, the general principle is to assign common tasks and support tools in groups. If users can create a folder, then the instructions on how to make a feed out of that folder needs to be associated with that task, in plain view, on the same page, or with an obvious link.


Interface Criteria Seven

Exploit capabilities, or get rid of them


One thing I’ve been noticing with the Feed search tools is that there’s little way to do multi-feed comparison. I’ve already addressed my thoughts on how to do this in the Bridge concept.

However, one thing I have noticed is that there’s an apparent disconnect between whether a feed is meant to be public and searchable, or whether it is intended not to be visible.

Let’s consider two different feed-coding-systems. PubSub has a very long code that doesn’t translate into anything like plain text. Each PubSub feed-code is unrelated to the next. It doesn’t appear as though there are decrements in that I can add or subtract a letter to get to another feed. Kind of like a credit card number, there are internal patterns and codes that have to be balanced.

On the other hand we have a watch-list like Technorati which has a very simple numbering system. I can easily see which of my watch lists are which just by looking at the number. Because Technorati assigns a name with that number, I can post the information quickly to NewsGator and get a nice tag-name.

Let’s compare the two approaches which PubSub and Technorati use, and then compare then with the various Feed Analysis tools that are available.

If we are in a multi-feed-analysis paradigm, users will need to be able to extract feeds, use tools to analyze their content, and return results. PubSub’s coding system does not support this. Again, it may not be the goal of PubSub to go in that direction, and they may be more interested in ensuring the private search-feeds remain private.

On the other hand, in the multi-feed-analysis paradigm, Technorati’s watch-list-numbered-feeds are more conducive to cross-feed analysis.

In other words, I can take a single Technorati Watch-list-feed URI, and increase or decrease it by one number and find another feed. It may or may not be my own.

In terms of multi-feed analysis, this is a good thing to know. All the multi-feed-analysis tools have to do is simply assign a new number, find a new feed, and analyze the results. This can be done outside Technorati.

However, it’s not possible to do this with PubSub.

On the other hand, Technorati may not know that the public can easily read other feeds. Yet, compare this with what del.icio.us is doing. Del.icio.us is making their universal bookmark search a thing of the past.

I look at the direction where things are going and wonder: Are we trying to make the tools more or less supportive of tags, multi-feed analysis?

Technorati’s open watchlist code suggests that multi-feed analysis is possible; while del.icio.us, in apparently eliminating the universal-search, appears to be saying we want to keep some things private, as does PubSub.

My feedback is that it appears as though some platforms are more supportive of multi-feed analysis and tagging than others. I find it curious that a platform like del.icio.us, that many users have created support tools to integrate, now doesn’t appear to even support a search of the tags.

Perhaps Technorati could be enhanced if there was a fast way to click through all the watchlists numbers, analyze the various feeds, and then allow users to review the results. Or, perhaps Technorati wants to take the PubSub route and make the codes inaccessible. Either way, make sure the choices made in the code are ones that new tools like multi-feed analysis tools can easily integrate with.

On the other hand, perhaps Technorati wants to change their code so that they are not searchable by non-users. In other words, if the open-watch-list code isn’t going to be integrated with a multi-feed search capability using decrements, then perhaps the codes should be more like PubSub, private, and not readily accessible by others.


Summary


I’m sure you already have thought about these things and may have other ideas. For the sake of simplicity, here’s a convenient list of what I talked about.

  • Del.icio.us

    Could you provide a clearer method to search the tags; and provide some discussion and links on where users can go to search the tags.

  • PubSub

    Take a look at the nice feed-labeling system that Technorati and NewsGator have integrated: It self reports a distinct name making foldering and filing easier in the external aggregator.

  • NewsGator

    Would like an option to click-all, then de-select items; please make the instructions on adding voting-bubbles more specific in exact location on the template and move away from talking about the template footer.

    Would like option to have a separate feed for clipped items like Flickr; and explore possibility of creating sub-folders in both the clippings and the main folders.

  • Technorati

    Please be specific whether templates have to be changed to support tags; have some tips on the main Technorati site, or linked to your teamblogs: What is or is not acceptable in tags as far as syntax, spacing, multiple words; how users are solving their issues with tags; and what the lessons learned are on what is or is not working.

    Think about a tool that will allow open-source-watch-lists to integrate with a multi-feed-analysis tools.

    Consider creating a FeedHunting tool that will do the following on the open-watch lists:
    A. Increment the watch list by one
    B. Review the feed-watchlist
    C. Compare to user-defined content-requirements to the returned feed content
    D. Prompt the user with [Save, file, monitor, or ignore] the external feed

    E. Go to the next feed


    Work with developers to integrate tools and protocols allowing external tools to analyze, classify, and report the results of these multi-feed analyses.

    Also, I encourage the team to do what they did with the SpamSummit: Get more public feedback on how the Technorati-platform displays are working; and whether they need to be refined when displaying the results of multi-feed-analysis.

    For those who have been kind enough to make free tools that create tags, could you let them know that there are other tag-related feature they may want to incorporate into their tag-creation-tools. If spaces are allowed, then ensure the auto-tag create creates only a single-tag for a multi-word tag.

    Again, thank you for your free services!

  • Thank you for your free services


    Had some thoughts on things and thought I would share them with the blogosphere. These aren't necessarily feature requests, they're simply examples of things that I look at when evaluating user interface.


    Interface Criteria One

    Easy use


    One thing I've noticed with the platforms is they sometimes don't do some obvious things. Then again, what may be obvious to one is not obvious to another.

    Let's take a look at the online NewsGator, where it is far easier to add a feed than Bloglines. NewsGator's strength is its simplicity and cleanliness. One thing I've noticed is how easy it is to adjust folders.

    There is one strange quirk. The key button to manage the folder isn't the same one for adding a feed. I'm still puzzled why these aren't both combined into a common area. Also, it’s not all that obvious where the edit-folder option is.

    As opposed to opening a new button [on the horizontal bar], it would be nice if the edit and foldering-function was located where one might add a feed: Collocation of common tasks, or a quick link where we add the feed to the foddering and feed management option.


    LEGAL NOTICE


    Creative Commons License

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

    You may not copy any of this work to promote a commercial product on any site or medium in the universe.

    If you see this work posted on a commercial site, it violates the creative commons license; and the author does not endorse the commercial product.

    Free to use for non-commercial uses. Link to this original blogspot and cite as .



    Interface Criteria Two

    Clearly distinguishable feeds


    Technorati’s watch lists are easy to add and reliable. They also have an embedded name that follows the feed into NewsGator. However, PubSub, despite having the ability to name the feed simply reports as a generic feed.

    I prefer the Technorati-Newsgator approach, as opposed to the PubSub-NewsGator one. I like being able to look at the specific name of the feed. It helps identify what the feed is. Then the feed-name-update option [if it exists in NewsGator] isn’t all that obvious where it is.

    Again, if this feature is available, would be nice if it was co-located in the feed-folder-management. On the other hand, perhaps PubSub has another thought on why Technorati appears to be able to assign a name automatically to a feed and report into NewsGator, while PubSub is not as clear.


    Interface Criteria Three

    Quick feature location and selection


    One thing that is nice about click-all options is the ability to click everything and do a universal task. NewsGator does this nicely. However, there’s one quirk with the tool.

    There are cases where users may have a long list of feeds they want to assign to a folder. Rather than click on them one-by-one, there is the option to click everything, then de-select what we don’t want to move.

    Sounds simple. Click once for everything, the de-select those few that are not on the list. Ideally, the SELECT-ALL buttons had the ability to select all, combined with the ability to DE-SELECT a few that are not to be moved, deleted, or worked with.

    In the case of NewsGator, users can select everything, but there isn’t this feature: To then de-select a few items. Rather, once users select everything, then all items shade to a dark gray, and there’s no way to de-select a couple of items.

    Specifically, it would be nice if the SELECT-ALL permitted users to de-select a couple of items. That way users could select many feeds quickly, the de-select the few that they do not want to work with. This is just a convenience, as opposed to moving a long-list-of-feeds one at a time.


    Interface Criteria Four

    Search capability, and indexing


    Lately, I’ve been looking into the integration issues between tag search tools and XML feeds. I’ll save that for another day. [In short, it is interesting that the W3 requirements in re templates and XML searches were finalized about 6 years ago, but in 2005 we still have most platforms that don’t offer XML buttons for the search results. Kind of like issuing e-mail newsletters to talk about XML. LOL]

    One thing I would like to bring up is a concern I have. Currently, there are many people who are discussing the merits of bookmarking, social bookmarks. These are going to be valuable when managing feeds, URLs, and tagging.

    My concern is that appears as though the bookmark index might be going backwards. In the idea world, when users have many bookmarks saved, it’s nice to be able to search them. Which is possible.

    Also, the idea of social bookmarks is that other users can search other lists of bookmarks easily.

    I like the furl approach. It is easy to find things. But furl is a little confusing on how to move a selected item in another’s list, and moving it to another area, like my list. It would be helpful if there were some mouse-over commands indicating what to do, or how to accomplish the tasks. Perhaps there are some obvious directions on how to accomplish this task, but I’m not readily able to find them.

    Let’s consider del.icio.us. They’ve gotten a lot of attention lately with tagging. There are many other tools that integrate. This is nice.

    My concern is that it doesn’t appear as though del.icio.us supports searches all that well. First, it’s not all that clear how to search. I was reading one blog that says the universal search in del.icio.us was deactivated. I tried it out both signed in and signed out. Sure enough, I can’t search everything, just my own.

    Kind of got me thinking about the idea of a social bookmark. How are users finding things in del.icio.us if there is no apparent search capability within the platform? I’ve looked around on the web for other tools, found a few that display nice charts and data about who’s doing what.

    But it is interesting that the actual platform that might otherwise be a major proponent of tagging doesn’t appear to support this simple search feature. At best, I have to find another tool [take Durl.com, for example] that might do something similar.

    The other thing I’ve noticed with del.icio.us is that despite many tools integrating with it, it’s not clear where users are supposed to go to even search their own links. Sure, I’ve figured it out, but in the ideal user-world, it would be nice if there was a button on the horizontal bar that simply says SEARCH.

    Also, it would be nice if there were some notices about the search, how to do it. Again, I can read another blot on how to do it. However, it would be nice if this was located on the platform.

    In short, unless del.icio.us says otherwise on their platform, I’m now at a loss as to why del.icio.us gets the rave about being social bookmarking. I have to use an external tool to search; and at best, I have to know the tag to search del.icio.us.

    The reason I use a search is that I don’t know the tags, and am trying to find something. Again, I have to use another index to find what the words are that people might be using as a tag, then assign that name to the deli.cio.us URL.

    I’m glad that I have a bookmark system that allows me to easily move bookmarks and search them.

    Keep the above in mind when developing FeedMesh. I’m surprised that we’re talking about creating tools to integrate feeds [which is good], while at the same time we see platforms removing tools that make the original tools attractive.

    Let’s make sure that FeedMesh is able to work with systems that may be going in the opposite direction: Removing capabilities that might otherwise encourage people to use feeds. [Feeds and links should support XML efforts in harmony]


    Interface Criteria Five

    Tools that work, with explanations on how to make them work


    I’m been experimenting with the tags in Technorati. They’re nice. It’s neat to be able to find others who have used the same tags. I’ve found some things in foreign languages that I would otherwise have never found using Google.

    As it stands, it looks as though tags in Technorati are more sophisticated than those in the other platforms. Namely, Technorati allows users to have spaces between tags, and it still shows up in the indexes. This is nice, as users can have a tag that is a sentence, or one with multiple concepts.

    However, one of the tag-creation tools that Technorati has doesn’t support this. It’s not an official Technorati product, just one of those links on the wiki that someone was kind enough to share.

    When I put spaces in my tag and use this tool, guess what happens? Each word of my single tag, turns into a separately coded tag. I’ve figured out how to make a correct tag, so it’s no problem.

    However, as I’ve been digging into the tags more, I’ve noticed there are some things that some people may not know. As most people know I like to use apostrophes in my tests. Typically, I get back-slashes when I add these.

    In the case of Technorati, I’m still not clear why there’s a problem with valid tags reporting in one case, but not in others. Specifically, I have noticed that I can make a tag that has spaces [my multi-word tag], but when it comes to using apostrophes, somehow the tag doesn’t report.

    I’ve been using one tag of MUD’S TESTS for a while, and things aren’t showing up. I’ve adjusted the ping-rate, and even ensured I’m publishing only one blog at a time. No luck.

    Clearly, there are some rules on how to use tags that I’m not aware. Again, from the user perspective it is interesting that the del.icio.us tags are single-words, while Technorati does support multi-word-tags with spaces.

    It would be nice if there was a place on the Technorati instructions that discussed the specific rules of tags: Whether spaces are or are not allowed; what type of syntax is or is not acceptable; and the signs that a valid tag is not reporting correctly.

    Clearly, the issue could be that a user’s platform may or may not have correct codes in their template [as an option]. However, if this is the case, it remains unclear to me why common problems with a particular blog-tag interface protocol are not displayed and disused.

    NewsGator does a nice job at outlining how each of the various major bogging platforms can add the voting-balloons to their comment template. I would encourage Technorati to look at Newscaster’s example.

    Take a look at how NewsGator goes down the steps for adding the code. It’s very orderly. Perhaps there are some similar lessons learned that the Technorati Team may have gleaned in re Tagging and Template-updates that major bogging platforms might be able to learn from.

    Technorati would be enhanced if it was clear whether loggers have to change their template to make the tags work in all cases. At this juncture, it remains unclear why the tags do not report despite the valid ping and feed.

    It would be helpful if Technorati does what NewsGator does and be very specific with the adjustments, if any, required in the template; or perhaps some discussion and public understanding of what tags will and will not report based on spaces, format, or other factors. At this point, I cannot give anything specific as I am not getting consistent results to point to.

    Again, the issue is that the Tagging rules and lessons aren’t necessarily consistent between Del.icio.us and Technorati. If there are things that the users need to be adjusting in their template like NewsGator has discussed, it would be interesting to read these on the Technorati site, or have a link to one of the Technorati Team members. Ideally, the information would be on the main Technorati platform.

    NewsGator: Where to place the voting-bubble code

    As an aside for NewsGator, I would encourage Greg’s team to take a look at the steps to add the bubble. In adding the code to BLOGGER, it is more precise to say that the code is to be added to the bottom of the comment section near the e-mail, as opposed to saying that the code needs to be added to the footer.

    In blogger the comments are in the main body, while the footer is outside, and a second area. I blindly followed the instructions and found my NewsGator comment-bubbles literally off the screen in left field.

    If NewsGator wants to look at my blog-code or link to it as an example feel free. I would encourage the instructions to be very specific in that the code needs to be added near the e-mail, and avoid using footer in the remark.


    Interface Criteria Six

    Ease in organizing content


    Technorati allows users to add watch lists. Would be nice if there was a way to organize those watch lists into groups, like NewsGator does.

    NewsGator has something called clipping where users can save information and even put that into a feed. That’s really nice. Flickr also has the same type of thing.

    Content publishers can create a feed for their images in Clicker. One thing that Flickr is looking at and others have requested are options for users to separate the clipped-images into separate files; then create a user-created feed for that clipped file.

    However, the feed-creation tools are not available for the end-user. We may see a time when Flickr allows users to make a feed of their favorite-clipped photos, and also make separate files for their clipped-favorite-images. We’ll have to see.

    Getting back to NewsGator, I’d encourage NewsGator’s team to look at the discussions on Flickr about the various folders that the public might want to create; and also keep on top on the discussions about feeds-for-clipped-photos.

    It may be a little early, given that NewsGator online is getting wider demand and the number of people clipping files may not be high. However, there may be a point when the interest shown in Flickr-clipping-files-feeds might spill into NewsGator. We’ll have to see.

    On the other hand, if this feature is already available on NewsGator [create folders for clippings; and separate feeds for each clipped folder] it’s not clear to me how to do this.

    Again, the general principle is to assign common tasks and support tools in groups. If users can create a folder, then the instructions on how to make a feed out of that folder needs to be associated with that task, in plain view, on the same page, or with an obvious link.


    Interface Criteria Seven

    Exploit capabilities, or get rid of them


    One thing I’ve been noticing with the Feed search tools is that there’s little way to do multi-feed comparison. I’ve already addressed my thoughts on how to do this in the Bridge concept.

    However, one thing I have noticed is that there’s an apparent disconnect between whether a feed is meant to be public and searchable, or whether it is intended not to be visible.

    Let’s consider two different feed-coding-systems. PubSub has a very long code that doesn’t translate into anything like plain text. Each PubSub feed-code is unrelated to the next. It doesn’t appear as though there are decrements in that I can add or subtract a letter to get to another feed. Kind of like a credit card number, there are internal patterns and codes that have to be balanced.

    On the other hand we have a watch-list like Technorati which has a very simple numbering system. I can easily see which of my watch lists are which just by looking at the number. Because Technorati assigns a name with that number, I can post the information quickly to NewsGator and get a nice tag-name.

    Let’s compare the two approaches which PubSub and Technorati use, and then compare then with the various Feed Analysis tools that are available.

    If we are in a multi-feed-analysis paradigm, users will need to be able to extract feeds, use tools to analyze their content, and return results. PubSub’s coding system does not support this. Again, it may not be the goal of PubSub to go in that direction, and they may be more interested in ensuring the private search-feeds remain private.

    On the other hand, in the multi-feed-analysis paradigm, Technorati’s watch-list-numbered-feeds are more conducive to cross-feed analysis.

    In other words, I can take a single Technorati Watch-list-feed URI, and increase or decrease it by one number and find another feed. It may or may not be my own.

    In terms of multi-feed analysis, this is a good thing to know. All the multi-feed-analysis tools have to do is simply assign a new number, find a new feed, and analyze the results. This can be done outside Technorati.

    However, it’s not possible to do this with PubSub.

    On the other hand, Technorati may not know that the public can easily read other feeds. Yet, compare this with what del.icio.us is doing. Del.icio.us is making their universal bookmark search a thing of the past.

    I look at the direction where things are going and wonder: Are we trying to make the tools more or less supportive of tags, multi-feed analysis?

    Technorati’s open watchlist code suggests that multi-feed analysis is possible; while del.icio.us, in apparently eliminating the universal-search, appears to be saying we want to keep some things private, as does PubSub.

    My feedback is that it appears as though some platforms are more supportive of multi-feed analysis and tagging than others. I find it curious that a platform like del.icio.us, that many users have created support tools to integrate, now doesn’t appear to even support a search of the tags.

    Perhaps Technorati could be enhanced if there was a fast way to click through all the watchlists numbers, analyze the various feeds, and then allow users to review the results. Or, perhaps Technorati wants to take the PubSub route and make the codes inaccessible. Either way, make sure the choices made in the code are ones that new tools like multi-feed analysis tools can easily integrate with.

    On the other hand, perhaps Technorati wants to change their code so that they are not searchable by non-users. In other words, if the open-watch-list code isn’t going to be integrated with a multi-feed search capability using decrements, then perhaps the codes should be more like PubSub, private, and not readily accessible by others.


    Summary


    I’m sure you already have thought about these things and may have other ideas. For the sake of simplicity, here’s a convenient list of what I talked about.

  • Del.icio.us

    Could you provide a clearer method to search the tags; and provide some discussion and links on where users can go to search the tags.

  • PubSub

    Take a look at the nice feed-labeling system that Technorati and NewsGator have integrated: It self reports a distinct name making foldering and filing easier in the external aggregator.

  • NewsGator

    Would like an option to click-all, then de-select items; please make the instructions on adding voting-bubbles more specific in exact location on the template and move away from talking about the template footer.

    Would like option to have a separate feed for clipped items like Flickr; and explore possibility of creating sub-folders in both the clippings and the main folders.

  • Technorati

    Please be specific whether templates have to be changed to support tags; have some tips on the main Technorati site, or linked to your teamblogs: What is or is not acceptable in tags as far as syntax, spacing, multiple words; how users are solving their issues with tags; and what the lessons learned are on what is or is not working.

    Think about a tool that will allow open-source-watch-lists to integrate with a multi-feed-analysis tools.

    Consider creating a FeedHunting tool that will do the following on the open-watch lists:
    A. Increment the watch list by one
    B. Review the feed-watchlist
    C. Compare to user-defined content-requirements to the returned feed content
    D. Prompt the user with [Save, file, monitor, or ignore] the external feed

    E. Go to the next feed


    Work with developers to integrate tools and protocols allowing external tools to analyze, classify, and report the results of these multi-feed analyses.

    Also, I encourage the team to do what they did with the SpamSummit: Get more public feedback on how the Technorati-platform displays are working; and whether they need to be refined when displaying the results of multi-feed-analysis.

    For those who have been kind enough to make free tools that create tags, could you let them know that there are other tag-related feature they may want to incorporate into their tag-creation-tools. If spaces are allowed, then ensure the auto-tag create creates only a single-tag for a multi-word tag.

    Again, thank you for your free services!
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