In the first of an occasional series, SPN’s IT whiz Magnus Smith offers some useful tips and explains some of the jargon relating to websites like ours.
Spirit of PN is hosted on the popular blogging site WordPress.com, which among other features, uses what is known as tag surfing. This allows you to see very quickly what other people are writing about under certain subject headings. You can click on a tag associated with any post on WordPress to quickly search through every site using WordPress.com for content associated with that tag.
If you look underneath any story or article on this website (other than the front page) you will see a little piece of text that says “This entry was posted in… and tagged…” plus a number of links that you can click on. (Look right between the row of stars where it says “Vote”, and the user comments section. See? There it is.)
These are links to the various categories and tags used for that story. You, the user, would naturally expect that clicking on one of these links will search the Spirit of PN website for other stories on that subject. However they do not do this, instead THEY SEARCH THE WHOLE OF WORDPRESS.COM FOR OTHER STORIES ON THAT SUBJECT.
For a news site such as ours, this can cause confusion.
For example, say that you had just read Geoff Griffiths’ latest article and thought “That was an excellent article, I’d like to see more of his work,” so you click on the link that says “Geoff Griffiths”. However, as that link searches the whole of WordPress, it will mainly return results for Geoff Griffiths, the championship rugby player and writer, who also uses WordPress!
The tag links are automatically generated by WordPress and are not part of Spirit of PN, or affiliated to or endorsed by us in any way. Even so, they are a useful part of the social networking experience.
However, problems can arise if, for example, we run an article criticising phone psychics who use cold-reading techniques. This is because clicking on the “psychic reading” tag could lead you straight to the blog of someone you suspect of doing exactly that. A story on mediumship could lead you to a sceptic blog denouncing all mediumship as fraudulent, or a fundamentalist Christian blog denouncing it as “the work of the Devil,” if you surf through the tags.
The bright side of tags
This also means that readers of other WordPress sites can find our site through posts that share the same tags, though searching by tags, or through tag clouds. (Tag clouds such as the main one at: http://en.wordpress.com/tags/) visually represent which tags are used the most.)
In that way we can use the social networking facilities of WordPress, such as tag surfing, to help spread our message.
This also means that readers of sites with anti-Spiritualist content, such as sceptical or religious fundamentalist blogs, can surf through the tags to sites such as Spirit of PN, and get our side of the story.
The downside of being able to do this is that inappropriate links can appear here. For instance, if you click on an automatically generated link on this site, such as the “Issue#2” link, expecting it take you to other stories from Issue#2 of Spirit of PN, it could take you to anything from Issue#2 of The Comic Collectors’ Blog to something inappropriate like Issue#2 of Fundamentalist Christian Monthly or Internet Sadomasochist Magazine (though, to be fair, WordPress are usually very good at hiding adult content from casual viewers). This is the largely unavoidable downside of social networking.
If you have a technical question about using our site, you can write to Magnus at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternately WordPress 24/7 Support at http://en.support.wordpress.com/