Sunday, November 15, 2009

Technorati Makes Breaking Change to Multi-Word Tag Syntax: Hyphens Replace Plus Signs – Epic #Fail

Update 11/15/2009: Multi-word tags with “+” word separators and search feeds now seem to be working. The following capture resulted on 11/15/2009 from a SQL Azure Database (SQL+Azure+Database) tag:


Update 11/13/2009: @TechnoEric said “[W]e really should get the old tags working with our new system; you may not need to change.” in an 11/9/2009 tweet.

Update 11/12/2009: Brandon Turner of the Windows Live Writer (WLW) team responded to my tweet regarding updating WLW as follows in an 11/9/2009 email:

Sadly, we don’t have a work around in our code right now, if this is a problem for you, then you might want to look into a 3rd party plugin.

It’s strange they want to use dash instead of a plus sign, when all other blog tag aggregators seem to still use a plus sign.  This is probably because URL encoding requires spaces be convert to a + sign or %20. 

None the less, I have filed a bug to look into the issue.  We’ll see what we can do. 

While testing Technorati tags generated by Windows Live Writer in my recent blog posts, I discovered that multi-word tags, such as Windows Azure (Windows+Azure) were returning hundreds of links to posts apparently tagged Windows.

Similarly, posts tagged SQL Azure (SQL+Azure) or SQL Azure Database (SQL+Azure+Database) returned links to posts having no conceivable relationship to Microsoft’s new cloud-based relational database (click image for full-size capture):


Following is a transcript of my Twitter conversation with @TechnoEric about this problem:

    1. From @rogerjenn 11/8/2009: @technorati: Tag-based search with phrases (word1+word2) ignore the second and higher terms. Try any link on #Fail.
    2. From @rogerjenn 11/8/2009: @technorati: The URL returns mostly Windows 7 posts, neglecting the Azure restriction. Epic #Fail.
    3. From @TechnoEric 11/9/2009: @rogerjenn @technorati:for multi-word tags try dash: Not perfect, but better.
    4. From @rogerjenn 11/8/2009: RT @TechnoEric: Dash for multi-word tags is better, but requires manually editing tags created by Windows Live Writer. Why the change? #Fail

Substituting hyphens (-) for plus signs (+) does, indeed, improve the results, as indicated by SQL Azure (SQL-Azure) or SQL Azure Database (SQL-Azure-Database) links:

As I mentioned in my reply to @TechnoEric, this unannounced (and unwarranted, in my opinion) change requires manually editing the Technorati tags generated by Windows Live Writer, my preferred blog editor. However, this gratuitous change renders non-functional about 10,000 tags in my earlier blog posts.

I’ve contacted to request the option of changing the space separator to and from plus signs in new posts. I’ll update this post, if and when I hear from @TechnoEric or the Windows Live Writer team. I’ve temporarily reverted to Google Alerts for cloud-related blog posts.

Technorati TagName Articles Pages Are Missing the RSS Feed Icon: Another #Fail

Another issue I encountered after Technorati overhauled their site was the loss of an RSS feed icon on the page(s) returned by tag URLs. Previously, I was able to add feeds to my reader that returned links to updated tag-specific pages, which Technorati calls “search feeds.” Clicking Internet Explorer 8’s RSS feed icon returns an “All Items” feed, which, of course, is totally useless:

There are several recent @TechnoEric tweets that mention “Technorati search feeds went away w/redesign. Back soon. You're getting original articles feed” or the like.

Technorati has invested thousands, perhaps millions, in an attempt to upgrade its service. The foolishness described in this post indicates a lack of attention by Technorati to the needs of the majority of the site’s contributors.

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