Jenny Gray: Weighty thoughts about tags

What order should tag clouds use? Should users be able to control it? And does it really matter?

That’s the thought I’m struggling with today.  Back in the dim and distant Moodle 1. somethingorother, the OU shared its course tagging system used in LabSpace into core Moodle.  It would never pass today’s stringent integration process!  Its been updated into Moodle 2 but is a bit rough around the edges.

When I started working on the “upgrade LabSpace to Moodle 2″ project (which should be released to the general public real soon now) I realised that the course tagging in Moodle 2 was a bit broken.

So I fixed it.  Or I thought I did.  The changes went into Moodle 2.4.  To be honest, I thought LabSpace was the only site that actually used this stuff, but apparently I was wrong!

This forum thread reports a bug that the tags are not displayed with the correct size for their weight.  Basically, they look like this:

image

When they should look like this:

image

I’ve filed a bug https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-39800 and although I’ve not assigned it to me yet, I fully intend to work on this when I get back from my holidays.

In the main block, the tags are displayed alphabetically, and that’s fine – I can easily fix the weighting there.  On the “more” page though users are offered the opportunity to change the order of the tags so that they can sort alphabetically, by popularity or by created date.  The idea behind this is that it might be useful when the tag cloud gets big.  This is just part of the full cloud on LabSpace:

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The way the core Moodle tagging functions work, it would no longer be possible to offer the option to change the sort order.  And since those functions are a bit creaky already, I’d like to get as much input from the community as possible on the usefulness of the feature so we don’t put effort into something that no-one really cares about.

I know there’s an argument that tag clouds are old-hat anyway because “normal” people don’t understand or use them.  So perhaps it doesn’t even matter?

What order should tag clouds use? Should users be able to control it? And does it really matter?

 


Jenny Gray: Weighty thoughts about tags

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