Possibly an announcement about possibly related posts

16 05 2008

Related to my previous post “new related reviews in Pubmed” (which appeared possibly an anouncement) is this post on “possible announcement of possibly related post” appearing in WordPress. Are you still with me?

Matt wrote a post “Possibly an anouncement” about the introduction of a new feature in WordPress: Related Posts. In English posts to begin with:

“In a feature we’re calling possibly related posts we’ll now try to show posts related to yours a little section at the end. If we find any posts on your blog that are related, we’ll put those at the very top and in bold. Next we’ll show other posts from around WordPress.com, and finally we’ll check if there’s anything in the mainstream media.”

In the ensuing discussion Matt reveals that “related thingy” as someone calls is not done via tags or keywords, but with all the content in the post. According to Matt “Sphere” creates something they call a “document genome” (LS: Wow! they sequence it!) and use it to do the matching, which can work a lot better than tags and categories”.

It is still in an experimental stage and will be tweaked on basis of feedback and data collected. Introducing related posts may increase traffic between blogs as one can easily go from one interesting item via another to an even more interesting item. A kind of “post-hopping” or lateral navigation, as Matt calls it.

Interesting idea, but is it working?

Well, I surveyed some of my blog posts in a similar way as Hugh from the “I’m not actually a geek” blog to see what the possibly related posts to my posts were. They’re shown below, along with a rating of ‘++‘ for related and interesting, ‘— ?‘ for not related, ‘±’ for posts show a certain similarity. ↔ = reciprocal

A. new-related-reviews-in-pubmed/ (Dutch/English)

  1. From Change the Display Format of Single Citations with My NCBI PubMed® User Preferences (link) ±

(it is about PubMed, o.k. but mature and about the display format, not really about related articles and certainly not about related reviews-which are new ; the site itself is interesting -for me, but not updated for a year (Quite the opposit, Anna updates here blog daily. See somments. Sorry!)

B. Opening UBA? (Dutch)

the first two are from the same site and they link to each other but not to me.
Hé: Dutch posts show the relating feature as well🙂

C. appropriate-bedside-manners (Dutch/English)

  1. Why paternalism isn’t dead « WhiteCoat Underground ± (about doctor -patient communication, but not about bedside manners or doctors crying
  2. The Art Of Medicine, kind of book review ± (same, and a book review)
  3. Building Physician Practices in Florida through Interactive Websites — ?
  4. At Bedside, Stay Stoic or Display Emotions? ++ (but it is a reference in my blog

The last post (4) is a reference in my blog (yeah, easy!), and does not relate to me, nor do the other ones but 1 and 3 do relate again to 4.

D. etiquette-based-medicine (Dutch/English)

  1. Een nieuw begin (uit de oude doos) — ?
  2. Een al te lange roede — ?
  3. Topartiest — ?

No resemblance whatsoever, except perhaps some english words/an English title next to Dutch ones. The second one is again a nice blog (a dutch biologist, brughagedis!)

Well E, I see at a glance, yields nonsense again. I don’t take the trouble to write this down.

This trial was unsuccessful, indeed. The extremely low yield of NEW interesting posts might relate to the usage of both Dutch and English, but I can’t understand why a new subject as Etiquette based medicine (NEJM-paper) does yield only irrelevant Dutch posts. In addition the related posts do not link back. Till now I never received any hopping guest (except via the WordPress dashboard, news, or tags).

Which brings me to a more generally uttered criticism, that is that Related Posts brings your reader(s) away from your blog, so you loose and don’t gain.

Others criticize is that the posts linked to their blog are not remotely related and sometimes even quite contradictory (vegy food gives meat) or even link to racist and offensive material and that there is no control over the links, even a kind of intrusive to put (unrelated) links below a post without any notification. Somebody noted that It would be great if we had an easy-to-use formatting tool to list related posts of our choosing, not random word-search weirdness from the internets. Others object that tags (added yourselves) already serve this purpose of lateral navigation.

My feelings are quite similar to those of Douglas Bell (commenting on the announcement)

“I’m sorry, but I am astonished at how this feature was added. The particular blog that I run on WordPress.com is a professional blog with important content, and now to see something called “Possibly Related Posts” appearing in the exact same place and format as my own content, displaying links to blogs that I have no control over (and many of these links having absolutely nothing to do with my blog and linking to very inappropriate non-PG, non-English content) is quite infuriating. It’s fine that this feature can be turned off, but shouldn’t it have been opt-in, instead of opt-out?”

Of course there are positive reactions as well, mostly very short comments : awesome, I like this, you guys are great….

But I don’t like it, not when it works this way and I will put the feature off. I might give it a second chance later to see if it performs better.

And the missed traffic to my blog? I don’t mind. I rather have a few interested people here, than just traffic passing by. I hate highways anyway. Prefer the quiet countryside and wait there for somebody to visit me and stay for a while. And of course I pay a visit back.

Note added in proof: some related posts have been refreshed in the meantime.


* The 3D WordPress Logo resembling a yoyo is created by Kate from Nineteen Labs


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7 responses

16 05 2008
brughagedis george

Hello Laika,
Since my blog isn’t hosted at WordPress.com I don’t “enjoy” this new feature, but I noticed the reference to the blogging Dutch biologist. Thank you!
Greetings, tuatara george

17 05 2008
annietv600

HI, Laika-

You said my blog hasn’t been updated for a year. I update it almost daily! Check out the home page:
Anne T-V’s Blog

I’m enjoying the new “possibly related posts” feature. I found your great blog this way!

Cheers – Anne (Toronto, Canada)

17 05 2008
sanjida shaheed

I don’t like PRL either. It’s an ambush, I tell you! It will remained turned forever in my blog.
Amen

18 05 2008
sanjida shaheed

i mean, it will remained turned OFF! {banging head}

18 05 2008
laikaspoetnik

@ George, sometimes I wished I was as technical as you and could adapt the blog according to my own preferences. E.g. I would like to have 3 colums instead of two, but I don’t dare to change the format or host the blog myself.

@Anne, Oops that was an awful mistake. Must have been very sleepy when I checked the link. Yes a good spin-off of Possibly Related Posts is that I ran into your blog (it is in my feed already), but the whole idea was that we (and our readers) would find related POSTS, not blogs. The yield of POSTS that are really related is very low till now. This is really in contrast with for instance PubMed or You Tube. The tagsurfer and blogsurfer present at the dashboard already serves this purpose -and performs a lot better.
But it does no harm either. So I changed my mind and will leave PRP on for the moment. I can always “unplug” it later on.

@Sanjida. Thanks for your response. But banging your head hurts. This item isn’t really worth the headache.

18 05 2008
Related Articles = Lateral Navigation « Laika’s MedLibLog

[…] 05 2008 What I did pick up form the WordPress announcement by Matt on possibly related posts (see previous post) is the term “lateral navigation” for navigating from one post to another. Why is this […]

18 05 2008
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