You can submit all the stories you want to Netscape but if no one sees them they’ll disappear into queue oblivion. Netscape.com tries to help you out by allowing you to ‘tag’ your submission. Which is nice, it helps narrow your story down in the channels. They also report top tags in the ‘tag cloud’ on the homepage, assuming that the submitters will use this feature as way to help others find stories that are similar. This only works, though, if the submitter’s goal is to ‘help’ others find like items. But what if the submitter’s goal is to simply get the most views for his submissions or agenda. A good way to do this is by manipulating the ‘tag cloud’. By submitting stories using the same tag repeatedly submitters can get their stories one step closer to the eyes of the homepage viewers.
The idea of the tag cloud is to show common tags used by submitters at an above average rate, meaning if 50 of the last 100 stories submitted all had the tag ‘wuzzles’ it would appear on the homepage in the tag cloud. The tag cloud also differintiates tags with a higher number of usage by increasing the font size of said tag in the cloud. The more times the ‘wuzzles’ tag is attached to a story the bigger the font size in the cloud. The bigger the font size the more attention-grabbing it becomes.
I noticed this as one submitter was attaching the same nonsensical tag to his stories and decided to try and replicate the phenomenon. I began by submitting legitimate stories and tagging them appropriately. For the experiment I included the Latin term ‘cedo’ as a tag and after 10 or so stories ‘cedo’ is now one of the top tags in the tag cloud. How this effects the stories I’ve submitted has yet to be seen. Also using cedo as tag is silly but if I were to use more sensational tags such as “sex” or “free money” or the top search terms on Google I’d probably pull in some more eyes.
I’d suggest that Netscape adopt the del.icio.us method of tagging that puts the burden of tagging stories on the voters, not the submitters. For example, if I vote for a story I have the option of tagging it as well. Tags I add to stories then would be included in my own tag cloud on my profile page. From these ‘user tag clouds’ Netscape could then produce the homepage cloud.