PowerShell Folksonomy - Are You In?

PowerShell Folksonomy - Are You In?

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A while ago I did some experimentation with a PowerShell folksonomy.  The idea was to tag internet content (blogs, comments, newsgroup replies, etc) with unique tags that search engines would pick up and make it easier to find exactly the information you needed. 

This effort stemmed from an documentation battle we had over the use of the term cmdlet.  This was a word that I made up to describe PowerShell commands but I wanted to invoke the idea that these were tiny things that were composed with other tiny things to solve big problems.  One of reasons I was hardcore on this idea of a cmdlet being "tiny" is that I knew that development teams would baulk at the "tax" of having to write "commands".   I wanted to be able to start the entire discussion with the premise that we were asking them for a very tiny amount of work.

Let me correct the record on this one.  Jim Truher just reminded me that I was pushing the term Functional Units (FUs) [can you detect my wiseass streak?] and that it was he that came up with the term "cmdlet".  FUs remind me of a funny Dave Cutler story I once heard.  No wait - I can't tell THAT story on a blog - never mind.

The documentation perspective was that we shouldn't invent new words when there where perfectly good alternatives ("command").  We had a  number of back and forth's on the subject but what was a decisive datapoint was what happened when you typed the terms into search engines. 

Search Term Live Search Google
Command 102,000,000 200,000,000
Cmdlet 29,600 107,000
Ratio 3446x 1869x

By using the term "cmdlet", we improved the signal-to-noise ratio of the search engines and provided our customers a dramatically better experience.

I got to thinking about that and wondered if we couldn't do even better by adopting a unique tag PSMDTAG  (PowerShell MetaData TAG) and convention for using it so that people could use that tag to better find exactly what they were looking for. 

For a while I was peppering all my content with this tag and experimenting with various extension tags and then would see how the search engines did with it.  At some point I got distracted and stopped doing it but someone recently mentioned it again so I started to do some experimentations and I think it is an idea with picking up again. That said, to be successful, it requires the entire community to participate so I'd like to see if this is something you all would be interested in participating in.

Let's start out simple - go to your favorite search engine and type PSMDTAG:FAQ  and look at the search results.  (You won't find a ton because I only did this for a while.)  Notice that the results typically give you most of the FAQ question.  Then try some things like:

psmdtag:faq prompt
psmdtag:faq delegate
psmdtag:faq wmi method
psmdtag:faq base64

Again - you can't go crazy because I only tagged so many things.  The questions to you are:

  1. Is this useful?
  2. Is it useful enough for you to participate by tagging your own content or add tags to the comments of other people's content?
    1. Check THIS out.  I used the comments to tag someone else's content.

PSMDTAG:FAQ  Will PowerShell have its own folksonomy?

Experiment! Enjoy! Engage!

Jeffrey Snover [MSFT]
Windows Management Partner Architect
Visit the Windows PowerShell Team blog at:    http://blogs.msdn.com/PowerShell
Visit the Windows PowerShell ScriptCenter at:  http://www.microsoft.com/technet/scriptcenter/hubs/msh.mspx

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  • L0L, would work IF everybody does it. You could even write your own script to compile an offline booklet called "This month's community stuff".

  • This is also a great way to discover new PowerShell stuff on a daily basis.  Just pick your favorite web alert engine, use PSMDTAG as the search key, and you find anything that is newly tagged every day.

  • This reminds me of AltaVista in the beginning of the 90's - before search engines really started to catch on. It was a big tree-based link collection and you had to know which categories a link was filed under to find anything.

    This requires everybody to agree on a set of tag names and, more importantly, it requires everybody to think the same way to find things again. It's going to work in a small community, but the community today has no problems finding new stuff via blogrolls, planets, hyperlinks etc., or using Google when you don't really know what you're looking for.

    I'd argue that by using these special tags, the community is missing out on all the stuff that's written by people who are not aware of this 'folksonomy'.

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