Close your eyes and visualize... July 25, 2007 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Community-based interactive pony request: With all our new doodads, favorites, flags, and feeds Metafilter is crying out for some cool ways of visualizing our community and content, ala dig labs. The only thing I have seen along these lines is this contact map made with ManyEyes. Some potential ideas for neat visualizations inside, but does anyone have the skills/interest to put something snazzy together?
posted by blahblahblah to Feature Requests at 10:47 AM (49 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Some things that might be worth visualizing:

-Representations of comments and favorites being added to FPPs over time, along with the number of favorite comments and FPP favorites (think a more full-featured version of stack.)

-Tracing back “[prev.]” and “[previous]” links, along with similarly tagged content, in a network diagram to allow people to explore networks of related material.

-Visualizing networks of tags, to move between related concepts

… I am sure there are many others as well
posted by blahblahblah at 10:47 AM on July 25, 2007


Oops, the link should have been to stack.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:50 AM on July 25, 2007


Word on the street is digg labs exists because they paid the excellent design firm of Stamen Design to not only create the visualizations, but also develop their API for it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:17 AM on July 25, 2007


So...let's hire Stamen Design?
posted by vacapinta at 11:23 AM on July 25, 2007


sure it looks cool, but are these visualizations actually useful, or are they just eye candy?
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 11:43 AM on July 25, 2007


That gives me an idea raise the rates on new members to $10,000 to fund Stamen! Welcome to the new, exclusive MeFiPlatinum.

Alternately, if we want to go with the more populist John Edwards-like approach, we can force the richest 1% of MeFi members to pay a one-time Stamen tax, thus lowering the MeFi Geni coefficient. I'm looking at you delmoi and languagehat, or should I say Mr. Gates and Mr. Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien^. Oh yes, we know who you are...
posted by blahblahblah at 11:44 AM on July 25, 2007


a MeFi API would be cool, though
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 11:44 AM on July 25, 2007


I hereby request, for my own protection, that there be no graphic representation of comment lameness.
posted by The Deej at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2007


Why?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:07 PM on July 25, 2007


Well, since we're here making pony requests: What about a non-meta FAQ for AskMe? ("want to move your iTunes library from one location to another without losing your metadata? Look at these half-dozen threads about it," etc.) Or a search on the tags on not-yet-submitted new questions which finds existing questions with two/three or more of those tags? More noise than signal?
posted by Tuwa at 12:09 PM on July 25, 2007


Seriously, who gives two shits favorites, favorites over time, stacks, network of tags and what not. If you want to " allow people to explore networks of related material" how about they do a goddamn Google search and do a bit of thinking on their own and maybe make a post about it.

I got a pony request: No more goddamn pony requests that hog of server resources and a bit more quality links.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:16 PM on July 25, 2007


Seriously, who gives two shits favorites, favorites over time

Agreed. All I want is a popup alert when my number of favorites reaches the point where it means I am accepted.
posted by The Deej at 12:21 PM on July 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm a big fan of the idea of stat-crunching and visualization, but it's something that I think makes more sense as an independent analysis than as an API-driven site service unless someone can propose a setup that would work really well and have little effect on the server load. Taking mefi down would be a bad idea, heh.

There have been a couple previous discussions about making copies of/access to the database available to the rare mefite with an inclination toward data-mining. It never quite happened, but I'd love to see that if Matt and PB can find a good way to do it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:25 PM on July 25, 2007


If there was an app that oh-so-lightly tickled the user's anus each time one of their comments were favourited, MeFi would become a much better place.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:33 PM on July 25, 2007 [6 favorites]


test
posted by shmegegge at 12:37 PM on July 25, 2007


OWWWW turn it down!!!!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:44 PM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm afriad the results aren't...well, it's not good, shmegegge. You might want to have a seat for this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:45 PM on July 25, 2007


What about a non-meta FAQ for AskMe?

You know this would be sort of easy to do with a faq tag and some way of collating FAQs that had the faq tag and some same number of tags. I know everyone's NYC vacation is their own unique special deal, but I'd love to see there be a place they can check for that, though with the addition of travel (real soon now) at least the location faq stuff will have a place to go.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:53 PM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've been playing around with putting posts and comments on a Timeline but haven't had the time to really pursue it. It should be much easier now that each post has a feed.
posted by euphorb at 1:28 PM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


A feature I had been thinking about was some way to cross index the favourites by each user so users could see which users were favouriting similar posts.

Then they could go off on their own and make little favourite babies.

Or just, ya know, get coffee. . .
posted by Esoquo at 1:38 PM on July 25, 2007


Esoquo: If you liked this comment, check out these other 15!
posted by aubilenon at 2:04 PM on July 25, 2007


I got a pony request: No more goddamn pony requests that hog of server resources and a bit more quality links.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:16 PM on July 25 [+] [!]


Sure sounds nice, except that the resources used to grant pony requests (mathowie, pb) are not the same resources that are used to post quality links...

Instead of these pony requests, I'd much rather be able to change my damn password, though. ;-)
posted by twiggy at 2:35 PM on July 25, 2007


I'd much rather be able to change my damn password, though.

It's on the list! Also, we rolled out a feature today that allows people's mutual contacts [i.e. you linked them and they linked you] to add tags to each other's posts to help the tagging thing grow and be awesome. I don't think it will do anything bad to the server.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:39 PM on July 25, 2007


Just break it to me gently, doc.
posted by shmegegge at 3:02 PM on July 25, 2007


to add tags to each other's posts to help the tagging thing grow and be awesome.

That is interesting and clever. Hopefully it won't be abused too much.
posted by quin at 3:33 PM on July 25, 2007


Sure sounds nice, except that the resources used to grant pony requests (mathowie, pb)(the Metafilter application application and database servers) are not the same resources that are used to post quality links...
posted by majick at 5:00 PM on July 25, 2007


shmegegge, son, you appear to have died. In a fire. We're pretty sure it was caused by an argument on the Internet.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:18 PM on July 25, 2007


For the record, I was hoping that this was something that other MeFiers might be interested in doing (witness the ManyEyes application), not that I was expecting matthowie to start coding visualization techniques.
posted by blahblahblah at 5:37 PM on July 25, 2007


jessamyn: "It's on the list! Also, we rolled out a feature today that allows people's mutual contacts to add tags to each other's posts"

/me does a victory dance
posted by Plutor at 7:11 PM on July 25, 2007


look, doc, don't beat around the bush here. am I gonna pull through or what?
posted by shmegegge at 11:14 PM on July 25, 2007


Also, we rolled out a feature today that allows people's mutual contacts [i.e. you linked them and they linked you] to add tags to each other's posts to help the tagging thing grow and be awesome.

What what what? Is that just a joke or?

Is there a way to un-contactize people? That ought to be a preliminary 'feature' to roll out doncha think?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:23 PM on July 25, 2007


stavros, if you go to the profile page of whoever you have contacted, you can un-contact them there.
posted by misozaki at 12:07 AM on July 26, 2007


Ah, gracias.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:29 AM on July 26, 2007


What what what? Is that just a joke or?

It's the truth, I think. I'm not sure why they didn't announce it yet. Check a thread of one of your contacts and see if you can add a tag to it. You'll notice we basically haven't rolld it out yet, so people in this thread shoudl check their contacts, etc. My assumption is that we'll have some sort of an "added tag" viewer to keep people from being out and out shitheads with it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:38 AM on July 26, 2007


It would probably be a good idea to keep a log of who added which tags, too, for whenever the inevitable asshattery crops up.
posted by Tuwa at 8:48 AM on July 26, 2007


All I want is a popup alert when my number of favorites reaches the point where it means I am accepted.

Me too, and if you can arrange for the pop-up to chant "Gabba, Gabba", there'll be a little something extra in your pay envelope, thanks.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:07 AM on July 26, 2007


My assumption is that we'll have some sort of an "added tag" viewer to keep people from being out and out shitheads with it.

So does that mean I should stop adding hundreds of contacts just so that I can randomly stick "batshitinsane" on every third FPP?
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:14 AM on July 26, 2007


for real, I can't help but wonder if this feature is that well thought out. for instance: any time I want to graffiti someone's tags for a post, I just add them as a contact on the spot. so if someone posts iraqfilter, I can add them as a contact and immediately tag the post as fuckyournewsfilter if I want to.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it would be better if people YOU contacted could tag your posts, so that you choose who has that privilege.
posted by shmegegge at 9:46 AM on July 26, 2007


it occurs to me that when I typed "perhaps, just perhaps" that that sounds snotty. I actually only meant it to say that I'm not sure if my idea is a good one, so take it with a grain of salt.
posted by shmegegge at 9:47 AM on July 26, 2007


shmegegge, you do realize that it's mutual contacts, right? As in, it is only the people you contact (provided you contact them first, or contact you back, whatever the case may be.) So, in that, i think your idea is a good one, and i'd venture to guess the mods do to (in that, it's already inherent in the feature.)
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 10:54 AM on July 26, 2007


You can only add tags to mutual contacts' posts. So you could only tag something fuckyounewsfilter if the other person also adds you as a contact.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:55 AM on July 26, 2007


We'll explain this feature in more detail in a separate thread once it's live across the sites.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:02 AM on July 26, 2007


ah, i didn't realize that. poor reading comprehension ftw! thanks for the clarification.
posted by shmegegge at 11:14 AM on July 26, 2007


I'll save my trenchant analysis for the announcement thread is posted, but I'm kinda uncertain that hooking it into the Contacts (does anybody use that for anything) feature is a fully-baked idea. At minimum, there should be a 'mutual contacts' list UI (ie I link X and X links me), where you can choose a toggle 'Allow this mutual contact to edit my public thread tags'.

A contacts management UI and better display than a long, unbroken list, and some actual incentive (this new idea seems like a disincentive, to be honest) to use the feature might be a good thing, too.

Although I do not, I know of at least a few people who use Contacts ironically -- ie people that are consistently unpleasant or insulting to them.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:04 PM on July 26, 2007


For that last point, stav, I think the number of users who mutually ironically contact each other has to be damned tiny. I hear what you're saying, but unlikely to be an issue.

pb has put together an admin tool for easily tracking mutual-contact tagging activity, so we can keep an eye on any weirdness pretty easily; I think he might make a thread soon, though the poli-deletion Return of the Living Dead action might have scared him off a little.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:58 PM on July 26, 2007


You're probably right. And just because I don't find the contacts thing useful in any way other than scanning through the list every few months for a big of cheap egoboo doesn't mean other folks don't use it.

For something, I guess. I'm glad I wasn't profligate in contactizing other people, because I'd feel like I needed to go back and remove them as contacts now, because I don't much want other people public-tagging my threads.

The private-tagging option I asked for (for private organization of Mefi data (users, threads, comments, anything), back before tags were implemented, now that I could still get behind.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:06 PM on July 26, 2007


i can haz mefi api?

Seriously, I'd like to play with visualizing data from MeFi. My particular pony of interest is relationships between commonly-used tags, but it'd be interesting to write visualizers for a lot of different elements of the site. I emailed Matt about getting some data once upon a time but I guess he's a busy man (either that or I asked for an outrageous amount of data). Either way, I'd be excited to see an API (or even the ability to generate CSVs) for MeFi.
posted by Alterscape at 7:56 AM on July 27, 2007


Well, what's the policy or guideline on screen-scraping. To an enterprising young chap (me), it wouldn't be too tough to throw something cool together.
posted by tmcw at 8:52 AM on July 30, 2007


I don't think there's really a policy, per se. In practice, the guideline seems to have been "don't break anything or do anything stupid, dammit" with an extra dose of "it better be cool or you're going to get hollered at in metatalk".

Folks have occasionally done a scrape for this kind of thing. Matt hasn't really objected, as I recall, and if you do your scrape at a gentle pace, contain it to a reasonably focused scope, and promise not to build a death ray, it probably won't be a problem.

Goof up, though, and you're banned for life.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:13 AM on July 30, 2007


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