Sunday, 27 May 2007

Technorati tag cloud: how to customise look, style etc to your blog






If you add Technorati tags to your blog posts, you might also use Technorati's tagcloud widget ("Blog Top Tags" widget), officially launched in April 2007, to include a tag cloud on your blog too. For those not familiar with it, this widget displays the 20 top tags used in your blog as displayed by Technorati on their tag pages (if you're on Blogger: add Top Tags cloud to your blog with a couple of clicks).

Now Technorati haven't exactly set things up to make their tagcloud look pretty for non-techie users, nor have they made it easy for us bloggers to tweak the Top Tags clouds to match the look of our own blogs e.g. design, style, colour scheme. It seems from what Tantek Çelik said in a comment on my original post on their tag cloud that Technorati basically expect their users / consumers to figure out the setup ourselves and then tweak our own templates individually.

Well, I'm pleased to say that Chris Loosley has come to the rescue. With careful experimentation he's worked out the classes Technorati have used, what they're named, how they've used them, and - most !importantly (pun intended!) - the best way to override them so that you can tailor the look and feel of the Technorati tag cloud to tie in with your blog's individual appearance. Chris has kindly shared his findings in his comments to this post - please see his comments from this one onwards and now on his blog (updated). Thanks Chris!

However see also the rest of my gotchas. Remember the Top Tags widget will only display tags which Technorati have picked up, stored and will return from their tags database. Well, their crawler indexes blog posts for their search database, but often tags get missed out from their tags database. You can't see those tags on their tags pages.

This element of tagging has been buggy on Technorati ever since the start and been extensively blogged by many - e.g. see this Google search result, even though according to Technorati everything in the known universe about "Technorati tags" problems consists only of one blog post... (even more amusingly, according to Technorati there is also "Nothing in the known universe about Technorati tag problems"!).

The problem still persists even though Dave Sifry of Technorati emailed me quite some time ago to say they were still on it, after I did some tests to try to bottom the problem, was it their indexing or retrieval, etc (it seems to be related to how much you have in your post, and whether you have set out code in it, I'm guessing, but who knows). Anyway, despite their rolling out a flash new look for Technorati recently, they don't say anything about whether they've fixed the tagging bug finally. In fact they've never said anything official on their site about the bug, only in comments to various blog posts about it. So I've given up on that point. They've even stopped replying to my support requests when I've reported that tags for certain new posts aren't getting picked up.

So you've been warned, the top tags won't be 100% accurate as Technorati don't pick up 100% of your properly-formatted tags. But overall it should hopefully give a general idea, and I know people like tag clouds. (If you're on Blogger and prefer label clouds, try this one). Enjoy!

(I've not bothered to tailor my own Top Tags cloud look, in case you wonder, as I'll be getting widgety with my blog as soon as I can, and will incorporate a properly-customised tag cloud in that version. Not planning to do any work on changing this template unless absolutely necessary.)

2 comments:

cloosley said...

I also organized my comments here into a more coherent blog post: Customizing The Technorati Tag Cloud.

Chris Loosley -- which BTW is spelled like Loosley Row (where my grandfather came from) and the famous singer Bryn Loosley (see Google :).

Improbulus said...

Sorry Chris, typo, fixed now!