Kinds of Popcorn

Popcorn Categories: A Dilemma

We’re trying to revamp the Popcorn Dialogues site, and it’s making us look at websites in general and PopD in particular in a new light. The current topic is “categories” as we try to figure out the best way to organize the site. We’ll be tagging the posts, so this isn’t about searching for a topic, it’s about how the overall organization of the posts work. The problem is that we define the site in different ways.

Jenny thinks of the site as a teaching/research resource and that categories are part of the description of the site: you read the title and subtitle and then you look at the categories to see a breakdown description of the elements that make up this site. So she thinks the categories should be the different genres we’ll be studying—Action-Adventure, Comedy, Mystery/Suspense, Paranormal, Romance—so that people will see that we’re looking at kinds of stories to analyze them, and then click on a category to see what we’ve done in that genre.

Lucy thinks of PopD as a show, and that people want to access what the episodes are about, so she sees categories as more of an episode guide. She feels that categories should offer a different way of accessing the information on the site, rather than just replicating content material that you can already access through a search (should you know what you want) or a tag cloud (should you just want to browse). So, for instance, we did a series on romantic comedy; that should be one category. If we do a series on British Romantic Comedy, that would be another category; if we do a series of Robert Downey, Jr. movies, that should be a category.

What we’ve realized is that our backgrounds are affecting the way we view the project. Lucy has a background in television production so she sees the site as presenting a show.
Jenny has a teaching background, so she sees the site as a learning resource. It’s entirely possible we’re both wrong. So of course we turned to you all (you all being the Argh People, the Betties, and the PopD people; this is simultaneously posted on all three sites).

So here are the questions we have:

1. How do you use categories on a blog; that is, what are you looking for when you look at a blog’s category list?

2. Popcorn Dialogues is a website that posts a weekly podcast of two writers talking about a movie they’ve just seen in order to understand story better. If you went to that site, what categories would be most helpful to you? (The podcasts will all be tagged for search purposes.)

9 responses to “Kinds of Popcorn”

  1. 1. I use tags on entries to navigate from one page that I like to a similar page that I might like.

    2. Useful tags for me would include the name of the film, the genre of the film (can be more than one) and the type of entry you’re writing.

    Don’t confuse tagging with what your top nav (or right nav) should look like. Tagging should cover all your bases (as long as it doesn’t go too far. Avoid “Tag Spam” which isn’t relevant to the blog entry). Navigation should be much more considered, if you’re going to go down that route, but I wouldn’t bother. Do the easy tag thing instead, and perhaps highlight a few of these as your “most popular tags” in the right hand nav. That way people always have the choice to follow the tags of the entry they’re on or go for the popular/curated tags.

    btw if you think people are going to click on the tag “Anything Else” you’re bananas. It doesn’t mean anything to users. Try “blog admin”, “comment”, “rants”, whatever its really about. You can keep it if you add a more specific tag alongside it.

    (can you tell I do this for a living?)

  2. Anything Else isn’t a tag, it’s the misc. category. Most of the tags we’re adding are very specific–black comedy, anti-hero, etc.–so that’s not a problem, although the tags are probably going to take some discussion later.
    The name of the film is too specific a tag, I think. Genre we can do. We’ll pretty much only be doing two kinds of posts: Podcasts and then miscellaneous stuff like this post (Everything Else) because the misc. is so random. I am liking the idea of some kind of lessons learned resource.

    I really do think we need that index of film titles.

  3. Really, really agree that an index of titles is necessary. I think grouping them by series would be great, but alphabetical works too if that’s the way you guys are leaning. I’m one of those people who hates scrolling through months of entries on a blog to find the one I want, so one page with hyper-linked titles would be perfect. It’s the kind of thing that’s extremely useful for people who are new to the site. Much less intimidating than clicking on a genre and seeing lots and lots of posts.

  4. I have a couple of thoughts, but I can’t seem to phrase them in any way that would make great sense. (I’ve been trying for the past half hour.)

    Plunder Bunny had a couple of thoughts this morning, and they were well-informed and clearly thought out, so I’m going to send him over here tomorrow to comment. I fear that if I try to explain them I’ll end up garbling them beyond comprehension.

    I *will* ditto the need for an index of film titles, though. That’s contributing, right? 😉

  5. An A-Z index of films would be super!

    I don’t really get the Comments/Recent Posts/Categories/Archives combo box on the right side. These things would be better separated out. There is plenty of room on the right hand side for this. I didn’t even know you had Categories because the first thing looks so boring that I never clicked on the tabs. “Sierra on FRENCH KISS”. Why should I care? If you want people to click on the Recent Comments, show a snippet of what they said, not just the name and topic.

    The top nav is getting lost above the title -which is probably why you’ve duplicated it in the right column. Put it in the right place and you wouldn’t have to do that. Actually, theres a lot of duplication going on – Archives, Recent Posts. Prioritise your page elements and have them once in the right place…and now I’m really off topic. Its just so frustrating so see websites that are unnecessarily dodgy! I’m sure you feel the same way about bad prose.

  6. There’s duplication right now because we’re revamping and trying out thing. That box at the top with the tabs is going to disappear shortly. It was part of the original template we used, but the site is being redesigned from the bottom up. We should put up a construction sign.

    I’ll pass on the bit about the snippet for the comments.

    The stuff above the title is About, Ratings, Coming Attractions, and Chat. Coming Attractions is not a duplicate because it has all the movies we have scheduled for months; the side bar just has the next three. I see there’s a Pages box there which may be new (I’m not doing the revamp so it’s a surprise when things change) but yeah, that’s redundant.

    I THINK (not sure) that there’ll be categories, search, coming soon, poll, and blogroll in the sidebar, and that’s all. But I have to check with the people who are actually doing the work.

  7. I think I lean toward the ‘lessons learned’ camp rather than this is a show. I know it’s a show and I can figure out how to find that stuff on my own. It’s the other stuff that I think I want help finding and navigating to/ from. And with that in mind, I don’t think I have anything new to add to the conversation presently.