Tagged and Released Back into the Wild (#629)

Remember back when everyone used Hotmail and kept their email in folders? Then Gmail came along and said, "Folders are dumb, use labels." And many of us said "labels are stupid!" but we eventually realized they made sense because, well, some emails belonged in more than one folder, really.

Back in 2005 when I first transitioned this site from simply being the home of the Transformers Box Art Archive (and its infrequently updated "What's New" page) to a full-fledged blog, the standard of the time was like Hotmail inasmuch as posts were grouped by Category. This worked fairly well: I was able to easily distinguish Archive posts from more general posts about Transformers and personal posts that had nothing at all to do with toy robots. And categories can be very handy, especially in a blog like this one: many of my close friends don't really care about Transformers, and many TF fans don't really care about me. Stick to the category you like!

As time went by, my topics strayed into new categories like religion and Gozilla and my marriage. Growing the list of categories was easy, and I even re-coded to allow the assignment of multiple categories to any given post, but occasionally I would become unsure of that system. I talk about New York City often; should that become a category? Does a single mention of Godzilla or comic books in a post qualify them for assignment in those respective categories? Do my wife's cats deserve a category of their own, or should that just default to the "Personal" category? Oh, and what if you were really interested in every post about comic books? That might be difficult to search for.

Of course, I wasn't the only blogger to have these issues, and so like the transition from email folders to labels, blogs started using "tags" instead of categories. The wisdom of this choice was immediately apparent to me. It allowed for granularity. Tags imply their own weight: "Transformers" is very general, but "Metroplex" is pretty specific. Let the reader decide their level of interest.

Now here comes the interesting part. ("Finally!" you say.) Coding and retrofitting the website to replace categories with tags was relatively easy.

Retroactively tagging every post ever written took time.

This post will be the 629th entry. Six hundred twenty-nine! That's a lot of posts to re-read and systematically tag. There was some starting and stopping, too: I realized late that every "Transformers Box Art Archive" post also had to be separately tagged with "Transformers". I debated the granularity of tagging, too. If someone or something is mentioned only once, do I tag them? (Sometimes.) Do I tag the cats separately? (No.) Do I have to use the "Aerialbots" tag every time any of the five Aerialbots is even mentioned? (No.) Does "Mechagodzilla" get its own tag separate from "Godzilla"? (Apparently yes.) The point is, this took time.

But I am finally done. And now I ask you to observe the horror of the "Browse Tags" page (a link to which has been added to the main navigation). Yeah, 629 posts about Transformers generate a lot of tags, especially when there are hundreds of Transformers.

I don't foresee "Browse Tags" being a frequently visited page -- I imagine most people will simply find and follow tags associated with whatever post they are reading -- but I am still unsure about whether I have over-tagged (or under-tagged or neglected to tag) certain things. I welcome feedback! Your thoughts are welcome.

Oh, and you may notice that in another concession to the fact that blog popularity has declined amidst the advent of "social media" I have added Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons to the base of each post. Now, in addition to following the Transformers Box Art Archive on Facebook or on Twitter, you can "like", "share" or "tweet" a specific post. (I haven't tested this too extensively. Tell me if it craps out.)

Just to be a good sport and show that this post is not entirely bereft of relevant Transformers content, let it be known that two new scans have been added to the Transformers Catalogs gallery. Apparently the 1988 catalogs that I had were early versions that grayed-out several toys and labeled them as "Coming Soon!" Unbeknownst to me, later versions of the catalog appeared where these characters finally appeared in all their full-color checklist glory. These scans were submitted by Chris Culberson, himself a bit of an archivist. Thanks, Chris!

So. Yeah. As always, more to come...

RAD. I'm the 1st and only comment thus far. Figures another web guy would care :)
» Posted 3.08.2012 23:45:20 by Ryan
I guess you have to draw the line somewhere when doing tags... it is a blurry line at best. I rarely ever click the tags on blogs and news sites, for two reasons:

[] I assume that the older posts will no longer be relevant. This is especially true on, say, game and movie blogs. Clicking the tag often takes you to an earlier article such as a preview or rumour.

[] In this case, Botch, I've read nearly every post since 2005 anyway and don't feel like re-reading - I remember most of them in lucid detail. I'm like that.

Nice catalogue scans. Do you notice or care about all the minor colour variations and such? I find it really interesting, comparing the prototypes to the final product - what made them change their minds? In some cases, like Broadside, complete and original toys seen in print have disappeared, never to be seen again.
» Posted 3.09.2012 13:01:09 by Adam Prime
@Adam Prime:
The tagging initiative was less to encourage people to re-read and more to
1) offer an easy avenue for new or recent readers to find posts about specific topics;
2) offer a historical perspective on some of the character art;
3) attempt to modernize the blog for its own sake

In retrospect, it was probably a waste of time that few people will ever care about that aren't named "Botch".

Regarding the catalogs, I'm aware of a few variations that existed between what appeared in the catalogs and the final product, though it's rarely more than a very minor curiosity. That said, I'm unaware of any difference with Broadside specifically. What do you mean?
» Posted 3.10.2012 11:45:02 by Botch the Crab - WEBMASTER
Ah, the mystery of Broadside! In an early 1986 catalogue (one reserved for the industry, I believe), all toys for the year were present and correct - with the usual small differences. However, in Broadside's case, what was shown was an entirely different toy, almost identical to his UK comic appearances and animation model. Comparing the two, this version is far superior to the toy eventually released. At first glance it looks similar, but it is in fact an entirely unique mold, he even has a slightly more complex transformation.

It's odd how such a thing would happen. The Broadside toy is... not my favourite. It's clunky and doesn't really fit with the other Autobot triplechangers.
I assume that to make it into the catalogue, hardcopies and prototypes must exist somewhere, I wonder if they'll ever be found?
» Posted 3.10.2012 13:02:01 by Adam Prime
Ah, see, all you had to do was link to the ol's reliable TFWiki:

» Posted 3.10.2012 13:05:45 by Botch the Crab - WEBMASTER

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