We have to go back

I just got done watching the entire series of Lost on Netflix for the second time. What a trip. What story telling. This time around things came a little bit easier. I more often had “aha!” moments and more than a few head-nods to the writer’s foreshadowing. For having gone as long as it did, for having kept almost all of its cast members the entire time, for having a grand story arch they stuck to and finished, and for the sheer magnitude of the undertaking, I can’t think of a better television series. Believe me, I’m a Browncoat, so you can take that to the bank. ;) So, if we have to go back, here are my main take-aways from the show’s six-year run…*spoiler warning*

Continue reading “We have to go back”

WordPress IP Blacklist not working? Remember .htaccess

Word to the wise: If you’re getting comment spam try Wordpress’ IP blacklist feature but, when that doesn’t work, try the guaranteed way: .htaccess.

Update 2011-04-03: Reformatted .htaccess config lines now that I know how to do better formatting.

Word to the wise: If you’re getting comment spam try WordPressIP blacklist feature but, when that doesn’t work, try the guaranteed way: .htaccess.

I get a lot of spam on this blog, mainly to one post that got a lot of links. Akismet is great at detecting this spam and not publishing the comment. But it gets tiring removing comments from the same IPs all the time. So, I tried WordPress’ IP blacklist feature but it didn’t work. For some reason I totally forgot about .htaccess. It’s the fail safe mechanism for protecting your site against IPs that abuse your blog.

Just put a file named .htaccess in your blog directory if you’re running apache. If you’re running some other httpd server, sorry you’ll  have to find another way. But, if you can do .htaccess you can do this:

You can put as many “deny from 123.123.123.123” lines as you like.

How do you tag your media?

One of the big deals in web 2.0, as everyone knows, is tagging your media. We’ve resorted to tagging media because it more succinctly defines the content compared to a search engine defining content by pulling out keywords. I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a while now and I’m still not quite sure how to tag. Here are some of my principles of tagging that I use and the reason I feel it’s beneficial.

One of the big deals in web 2.0, as everyone knows, is tagging your media. We’ve resorted to tagging media because it more succinctly defines the content compared to a search engine defining content by pulling out keywords. I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a while now and I’m still not quite sure how to tag. Here are some of my principles of tagging that I use and the reason I feel it’s beneficial.

  • Root Words
    • Search algorithms can be more easily optimized to accept many variations of a word and then go looking for the root word in your tags and content.
    • For example, use surf instead of surfing, movie instead of movies, run instead of running, etc.
  • Basic Words
    • For the same reason that I use root words I use the simpler word where there is a choice between a simple and a complex word.
    • People are more apt to use the simpler word as well when searching
    • For example, domain instead of top level domain, internet or net instead of world wide web, etc.
  • Tag Phrases as Word
    • Say I post about my favourite band, brave saint saturn, I’ll tag each individual word: brave, saint, saturn
    • Why? Because computers can figure out more combinations and more quickly than humans can
    • Say a visitor searches for international business and you have one post about IBM (which stands for International Business Machines), some people would prefer if the IBM post came up in the search result.
  • Acronyms
    • Don’t be afraid of using acronyms
    • Acronyms used in every day language have a specificity all their own. They can indicate time, location, subject, age, etc.
    • It’s also a good idea to tag each individual word in the acronym
  • Slang, C0lloquialisms, Jargon, Vernacular
    • Go crazy on these too
    • These types of words also have a value unique to them which make them great for searching
    • Like acronyms, they carry connotations with them that can help indicate the topic of your media sometimes better than other dictionary words
  • Variations
    • Eat your heart out! If there is more than one apt word for a topic, tag them all!
    • For example, blog, post, article, essay, etc.,
    • This is increase the chances that a visitor choosing a word at random related to the topic will find your post

The basic idea is to make your tagging as easy as possible for your visitors to search and as easy as possible for services to index your content, like Google.

The other idea behind all of these principles is the underlying assumption that all most people will find your content by a computer algorithm. Computer algorithms handle the basic cases (ie. the most simple cases) and the expand out into other cases that might introduce fuzziness and reduce the accuracy of finding the content the user wanted. So we try to make it as simple as possible for algorithm to find out content

Not only that, but we assume that algorithms will also be improved. So, we attempt to give algorithms basic, raw, individual pieces of data (ie. international, business, machines instead of international business machines). By breaking it up like this, you allow future algorithms to mix and match your data more easily and so build better relations between content. This is a future-proofing mechanism.

Remember KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. And search engines and your visitors will love you for it.

So, what are your tips for tagging media?