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Editorial The Internet

Greatest Task of Web 2.x: Meta-Validation 161

Posted by kdawson
from the vetting-the-metadata dept.
CexpTretical writes "This Technology Review article about Web 2.x problems fails to mention the 800 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to fulfilling the dreams of the Semantic Web — i.e., assumptions about the validity of metadata or tagging schemes. We can add all of the metadata and/or tags we want to web resources but that does not mean that the 'data about the data' honestly or accurately describe the resource or are 'about the data' at all. This is why Google does not place much importance on the metadata already contained in HTML document headers for search ranking, because it cannot be trusted. And to validate it would require more effort than to search and index that data from scratch. Ensuring or verifying the validity of metadata would be a task equal to that of initially creating it, but would have to be repeated on an ongoing basis. Hence all of the talk about 'trusted networks,' which then require trusting the gatekeepers of those networks. Talk about 'semantics.'" Slashdot's moderation and meta-moderation offer one example of getting useful metadata in a non-trusted environment.
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Greatest Task of Web 2.x: Meta-Validation

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  • Meta data (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Andrewkov (140579) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:37PM (#17094832)
    Slashdot's moderation and meta-moderation offer one example of getting useful metadata in a non-trusted environment.

    The tagging system might be a better example, or at least an example of mostly useless meta information.

    • by syousef (465911)
      /.'s rating system is a popularity rating system that has very little to do with the quality of the comment. In fact as /. has grown I'd argue this system has become more damaging as it has allowed prejudice and popular folly a louder voice than genuinely interesting discussion. Meta moderation doesn't do that much to help fix this. People should be thinking "is this an interesting and valid thought?" rather than "do I agree with what this person is saying?" - unfortunately this doesn't happen. What do you
      • Re:Meta data (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Jasin Natael (14968) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:52AM (#17098366)
        People should be thinking "is this an interesting and valid thought?" rather than "do I agree with what this person is saying?" - unfortunately this doesn't happen.

        Ah, the value judgement rears its head again. I'm not sure how you can easily distinguish between invalid thoughts and thoughts you disagree with. For me, and I would hope for many people who get mod points, the points are expended on those comments that add something useful to the discussion.

        A tired old argument that, for me, was debunked years ago -- however 'Interesting' or 'Insightful' it may have been the first few times I heard it -- simply isn't saying anything. Knowing why an argument or point is flawed, invalid, or deliberately vicious, am I obligated to spend my mod points on it just because its falsehood might be interesting or even insightful to an uninformed reader? Do I not, on the contrary, have a duty to remove information which I know to be false or misleading by downmodding?

        Moderation isn't about feeding your own opinions back to you; It's about obtaining an aggregate value judgement from the community as a whole. If you want to browse sans value judgements, or if you disagree with the community's concensus and want wrong, invalid, or uninformed (per the moderation system, as judged by the community) opinions to be given equal or greater weight than those moderated up, use the 'Prefs' panel. That's what it's for.

        • by syousef (465911)
          This is a terrible attitude and is what is wrong with the moderation system through and through.

          Just because it's a "tired old argument" to you does not make it invalid. It may be a very new argument to someone else. Troll and Flamebait should be reserved for those that are clearly not trying to add to the argument, but is rather trying to provoke a reaction and anger others. That's what those words mean.

          If you think the argument presented isn't worth much to you, you should either leave it unmoderated, mod
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:39PM (#17094846)
    What about the removal of accurate metadata, such as Slashdot's disabling of the "dupe" tag?
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:40PM (#17094862)
    Especially here at Slashdot where a certain type of groupthink is very prevalent, it's not so much a matter of whether a comment is insightful or interesting so much as it adheres to the consensus view of the moderators. A non-conforming view is labeled 'Troll'. So in one sense, the metadata provided by the moderation system is useful in that you can tell at a glance how well a comment conforms to the Slashdot zeitgeist just by looking at its moderation score.

    However since posts lower than zero do not get displayed automatically, views that are unappealing to the Slashdot community are relegated to obscurity regardless of their validity and correctness.

    Linux sucks.
    • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:48PM (#17094900) Homepage Journal
      You are definitely correct, but I wonder if this would be the same in a search environment like Google. First, you have a much broader selection of people that can mark meta-data as being accurate or not. Second, people will not see the meta-data without specifically searching for it. This means that the people searching for "swingers in Milwaukee" will most likely be people that don't frown upon such behavior. There are still obvious issues, like people searching for more general controversial terms like creationism/evolution or people that disagree with a certain behavior organizing against certain sites by "moderating" them poorly. I could easily see this happening in politics and religion.
      • Mod Spam? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by quanticle (843097) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:17PM (#17095088) Homepage

        Here on Slashdot, there is a selection process and a reputation system that determines who has the ability to moderate. How does this "Web 2.0" address the fact that anyone can attach and moderate tags?

        • by Jerf (17166)
          The general idea is that the problem you describe will be solved on a higher level than the tags themselves, on the simple grounds that tags effectively can not self-label their own reliability. (That's a bit of a simplification, but in practice that's what it boils down to.)

          Google's PageRank is nothing if not such a higher-level reputation system.

          Multiple systems should compete and the "best" should win. Theoretically.
        • Re:Mod Spam? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by PCM2 (4486) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:54AM (#17096254) Homepage
          Here on Slashdot, there is a selection process and a reputation system that determines who has the ability to moderate.

          Is that true? My understanding was that any registered user with an account older than X period of time was eligible to moderate.

          If there really is some sort of reputation system, I'm not sure I approve of that. For example, I've been reading Slashdot for close to 10 years. Check out my account number. Presumably I have a pretty good "reputation." But then again, I love a really good troll.(*) I've been known to post a few, too. (Ssshh!) Based on those facts, should I really be allowed to moderate more than somebody else, just because my "reputation" is ostensibly more established?

          Wait ... did I say that? Or only think it?

          (*) It's a pity there are so few really good trolls anymore.

          • Is that true? My understanding was that any registered user with an account older than X period of time was eligible to moderate.

            It's true, with some caveats. From the documentation, the ability to moderate is based on four qualifications: 1) That the user is logged in. 2) That the user reads slashdot regularly (ie. not obsessively, and not once in a while). 3) That the user is a long-time reader (or older than the most recent X-thousand registrants). 4) That the user is willing to moderate -- and finally 5) That the user is a positive contributor, meaning that they have a non-negative karma.

            The full docs for moderation can

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by CastrTroy (595695)

              5) That the user is a positive contributor, meaning that they have a non-negative karma.

              This is the kicker. In order to be a moderator, you must have a positive karma, which means you must post comments that contribute to the slashdot groupthink. Anybody can think up formulaic posts in order to get their karma up, but you rarely see this, because you don't get modpoints that often, and trying to rig the entire moderation system would be hard, impossible, or simply just not worth anyone's time, as it woul

              • I personally have "excellent" karma, but mostly for "funny" mods I get about twice a year, and the occasional factualy "informative" post I make. Most of my posts run counter to the Slashdot groupthink (I've been called pro-MSFT, pro-copyright, pro-Republican, etc.) So you can have excellent karma by being occasionally funny and occasionally informative, while rarely getting an "insightful" (groupthink) mod.

                So, despite being a thirty-something IT manager who thinks Richard Stallman makes about as much sens

            • Moderation also seems to be inversely proportional to posting frequency. I tend to post in every article I read, and so I don't get mod points very often. If I stop posting for a few days, I get them again.

              This makes sense, since people who post in every article they read can't moderate anyway, so it would be silly to give them points.

          • by quanticle (843097)

            Is that true? My understanding was that any registered user with an account older than X period of time was eligible to moderate.

            If what you say is true, then what is the point of metamoderation?

            The way I see it, metamoderation establishes a reputation system. If the metamods (e.g. everyone willing to moderate) votes that your moderation is inaccurate, then your chances of getting mod points again decrease.

    • by aquaepulse (990849) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:54PM (#17094926)

      it's not so much a matter of whether a comment is insightful or interesting so much as it adheres to the consensus view of the moderators

      You seem to be arguing against yourself. Moderators are chosen from a large pool according to rules described in moderation guidelines. It stands to reason that if these moderators come to consensus about a post, then that consensus would be descriptive of the post.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ScentCone (795499)
        Moderators are chosen from a large pool according to rules described in moderation guidelines. It stands to reason that if these moderators come to consensus about a post, then that consensus would be descriptive of the post.

        No, it just means that their behavior, and the meta-mods of their mods continue to enable their periodic role as mods. In other words, groupthink also impacts who gets to mod.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SpectreHiro (961765)
          I generally agree with your point, but I'm also reminded of a quote that makes its way around the internet periodically:

          "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner."

          You've picked out a particular failing of a republic, and it's a valid point. The thing I never see, and I'd very much like to, is a recommendation for a better system. It's not enough to complain about the state of things. A complaint is worthless if it isn't accompanied by a superior solution.

          So, how do w
          • by ScentCone (795499)
            Bitch of a question, isn't it? If you've got an answer, I'm sure the slash-mods would love to hear it.

            The only thing I can think of is: persistent, lucid, compelling, and sometimes (as needed, since it's a great tool) satirical contributions to the groupthink's self-conversation - designed to cause a little bit of reflection and to realize that not everyone with a different perspective is stupider than they are, less funny than they are, unable to see irony as well as they can, or anything close to the c
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bogjobber (880402)
        We do get to the point where the moderators come to a consensus (or at least a majority overrides a minority) but that doesn't address the issue of whether or not the moderators are correct in moderating a comment up or down. In most situations there is no one correct answer, so how can you get everybody to agree? I am not going to moderate a post insightful if I disagree with the content, and I wouldn't expect anyone else to do so either. In a situation that it is essentially voting for whether you thin
    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:54PM (#17094928) Homepage Journal
      Basically, every group and forum is going to be self-selecting to an extent. Even the stories are self selecting, I think. Stories about copyright law enforcement from the entertainment industry get the opposite vibe than stories about companies violating the copyright of GPL'd software. I really hope it's from two different groups of people.
    • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:01PM (#17094982) Homepage Journal
      [S]ince posts lower than zero do not get displayed automatically, views that are unappealing to the Slashdot community are relegated to obscurity regardless of their validity and correctness.

      Here's a thought: Rather than indulging in self-satisfied name-calling, why not perform some analysis on the moderation system and actually try to provide some evidence for your facile assertion? It's pretty easy to do, precisely because the kind of abuse you claim is rampant here would also be completely transparent, if it were happening.

      For my part, I have no inclination to agree with your assertion, because in the 2 years I've been meta-moderating daily, I haven't seen more about 1% of posts[*] that show such symptoms. On the contrary, if my experience is any guide, there's a far more common tendency to content-free comments like yours upward than to mod unpopular, but well-argued, comments downward. The consistency of the data, and the fact that it's semi-randomly selected for me, leads me to believe that it's statistically significant, and that my experience doesn't differ significantly from anyone else's.

      YMMV, but the burden of proof does lie with the accuser, so please back your assertion with evidence.

      [*] I base that on viewing slightly less than 1 abusive down-mod a week, or 1 in 80-90 moderations.

      • by syousef (465911)
        Well I don't know the GP but I can tell you I've been very disappointed at the moderation of a number of my posts as -1 troll or -1 flamebait when they were neither, and the point of view present was valid. I very recently had a post hit +4 insightful before being moderated back down to 1 simply because people didn't like what I'd said. Have a look at the only "insightful" comment rated at 1 towards the bottom of my immediate history. This kind of abuse is quite rampant here and sticking your head in the sa
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)
      "Linux sucks" I think it actually ok by this point. There have been enough articles about how the Linux GUI stinks, how DVDs don't play, etc that I don't think people are as offended by "Linux sucks" as they once were. Or maybe there are just fewer Slashdot Linux zealots around for whatever reason. Stories that appear on the front page seem to have decently good moderation, IMO. Even political stories usually tend to have differing viewpoints modded up.

      But if you want a real challenge, go to the Games secti
      • > "Linux sucks" I think it actually ok by this point. There have been enough
        > articles about how the Linux GUI stinks, how DVDs don't play, etc that I
        > don't think people are as offended by "Linux sucks" as they once were.

        I am mildly offended by "X sucks" articles for pretty much any value of X. I'm not interested in reading rants.
        • by doom (14564)
          I am mildly offended by "X sucks" articles for pretty much any value of X. I'm not interested in reading rants.

          Really? When someone recommends a new technology to me, the first thing I do is use google to look for "X sucks" articles.

          If you can't find any, then you know it's an immature technology.

    • Digg is even worse. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're completely correct. Most people don't moderate based on how a post or a story meets a certain set of criteria. They only ever get to the level where they "agree" with a story, or "disagree" with it.

      When it was first becoming popular, I used Digg for a few weeks. Various people would post comments in stories I had submitted, saying how they had just "buried" the story as "OK, This is Lame" because they disagreed with it. Of course, that's now how Digg is intended to work. It's about a story's merit as
    • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:10PM (#17095052)
      However since posts lower than zero do not get displayed automatically,

      When I moderate, I view all comments, even the ones with negative scores. That's the responsibilty of moderators, yes? The moderators have to wade through the sewerage so that you don't have to.

      With that in mind, I have no idea why your message is rated as insightful.....

    • The problem is that many people do not want honest discussion via the comment system: they want to be affirmed in what they believe. And some people would rather cater to the groupthink and adopt that as their own belief because they lack a spine. Since you don't seem to be one of them, please continue to both call them out, and mock them. Usually someone who spouts a line to feel like they belong can't hold their own in an argument, or invokes a logical fallacy when they argue.

      A good counter to the moderat
    • Since the Slashdot groupthink also has a "the moderation system sucks" meme, your post ironically got modded up.

      It's funny. Obvious trolls that append an "I'm sure this will get modded down" clause all get modded up. Followed by scores of posts wondering if the moderators are on crack.

      p.s. No, they aren't on crack. They're sniffing fumes from the paint cans stored in their parent's basement.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Eli Gottlieb (917758)
      Ironically, you've been modded +5 Insightful. The groupthink thinks there's a groupthink.

      Anyway, you should be happy that we have Slashdot's moderation system. Here, content-free jokes and trolls get modded up and relatively anyone with a long, reasoned-out post can receive some upmodding (though not necesarrily to +5). On sites like Digg and Reddit, disagreeing with the consensus opinion gets you modded deep into the bowels of hell, because everyone has a mod point for each post and the site places no c
      • by bunions (970377) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:21AM (#17095800)
        the contrarian viewpoint always looks insightful, regardless of it's merits.

        The fact that there's a general consensus viewpoint that tends to re-enforce itself is just an artifact of human nature. Slashdot, not being any great exception to the human condition, does what it can to reduce this, and in my eyes does about as decent job as you're going to have done when you let the mob moderate itself.
    • by logicnazi (169418)
      There certainly is an element of this. I've often complained that the meta-mod system needs a more complex system to punish people who downgrade comments they just disagree with.

      However, I've also seen well reasoned comments challenging the prevailing views get modded up to 5. Half the reason you appear to see this effect is probably the fact that slashdot attracts people who think this way so the people who think MS is great and have reasons aren't here leaving only trolls to post about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Slashdot's very own Hal Porter is an expert in the field of the Semantic Web and metadata classification and organization. Those of us in the UK who have followed his work know full well that he's soon going to be producing some excellent research. For years he's been telling us that the Semantic Web will take off and revolutionize the way we consider our data. I think he may be right, but I'm still thinking it'll take some time yet for most computer scientists, let alone average users, to see that he's cor
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CexpTretical (926498)
      Some of what I see, as one of those computer scientists/software engineers, as the benefits of Semantic web related developments, like making some AI type web apps more plausible, possible, and/or effective, others might not appreciate. An analogy from city/road planning might be the choice between the local route versus the highway. Many travelers want the highways with the associated signs that help them find their way quickly from point A to point B, while most of the businesses along the way want all of
    • by jd (1658)
      The closest you can get to valid metadata is to start by mapping the topology of the information. In the trivial sense, you simply look at all pages that cite or are cited by the page you want to rank, and look at what they discuss. A more complex system does this recursively, with a steadily-falling contribution the greater the link distance becomes. (This would also limit Google Bombing, as you aren't simply working off a single direction over a single step.) You can enhance this further by grouping pages
  • It's also about the software exploring similar data across different regions of the web to extrapolate veracity or falsehood. Think of it as programming software to recognize how to write new Wikipedia pages (correctly). Human contributions will ALWAYS have a margin of error; the question is, can we program software to do the same job we do, but much more efficiently AND correctly?
  • Idioms (Score:5, Informative)

    by fossa (212602) <.ten.xmg. .ta. .7tap.> on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:59PM (#17094968) Journal

    I thought it was "elephant in the room"? Googlefight! [googlefight.com]. We're talking orders of magnitude here... Please tell me that lame TV commercial that botched the idiom isn't starting a trend? I think 800 lb gorilla should remain as the Urban Dictionary's [urbandictionary.com] "an overbearing entity in a specific industry or sphere of activity" and not expand to the more abstract, from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], "an obvious truth that is being ignored"

    • by tezza (539307)
      Concentrating on the 800lb gorilla means you could ignore the 1600lb gorilla & the elephant in the room.

      I mean, wasting cycles on Web 2.x stuff could divert resources from global warming solutions or how to protect children without infringing liberties.

  • by NineNine (235196) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:04PM (#17095016)
    I don't think that meta-validatino can *ever* work.

    It's a lazy shortcut to somebody with a brain doing the editing/moderating themselves. The masses are NOT always right and are often wrong, in fact (Wikipedia). Meta-validation is a way to let "the users" do the work, even though those users are generally not qualified to do so. The whole value in say, a web site, is offering useful, accurate information to other people who don't already know that information. Meta-validation is essentially mod rule, with no order or methodology. Meta-validation is a shortcut to profit, and as a result, it will never result in good, long-term information.
    • by logicnazi (169418)
      Interesting then that wikipedia has far better coverage of my subject (recursion theory branch of mathematics) than any other encyclopedia I've ever seen and very few errors. Clearly it works sometimes!

      What you miss is that even if people are morons they are reasonably good at recognizing who is less of a moron than they are, at least for most subjects. Religion (and politics) are good examples of where things break down. Since religion redefines who counts as an expert (only our priests have the line to
  • by traindirector (1001483) * on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:06PM (#17095030)

    Working with metadata from a non-trusted community is a few orders of difficulty harder than working with trusted metadata. All the examples from non-trusted user groups that I've seen are either 1) only able to track fairly simple data or 2) ambitious but disappointing. I'd put Slashdot's moderation and metamoderation in the first category. Relevance, quality, and a few kinds of description are possible, but these are fairly simple things to track. Most internet resources would require metadata that is much harder to validate to be useful.

    A primary example of this that comes to my mind is the current crop of music recommendation services. The idea behind these sites is that they can, through one of various methods, recommend music to you based on what you like. I've experimented somewhat extensively with Pandora [pandora.com] and Last.fm [last.fm], and the difference in the quality of their suggestions is amazing.

    Last.fm uses community data for recommendations. It tracks tags that users attach to songs and the collection of artists that each user listens to. Based on what artists you have listened to or which tags you select, it attempts to point out other artists you might like.

    Pandora makes recommendations based on musical qualities. The data the service uses comes from the Music Genome Project, which paid people who have studied music to catalogue the musical qualities of songs in their database. Employees listen to songs and select which attributes are applicable to the song from a list of hundreds of attributes. To use the service, you enter some songs and artists that you like, and based on the musical attributes of those songs and artists, it recommends other songs you might like.

    The results that the services provide, at least in my case, are like night and day. Last.fm's recommendations are heavily influenced by what's popular and how a common user would categorize an artist or song. They sort-of hit the right areas, but it doesn't get much better than Amazon's recommendations. Pandora's recommendations always seem to be more on target, even though it uses only a few artists or songs that you enter at the start, in contract to Last.fm, which can use my entire play history.

    I guess a lot of this can be chalked up to the difference between association and relation - without some type of new innovation, it seems that community-based metadata can only be based on association, which is a far cry short of relation. Yes, it is a type of relation, but a set of data has qualities that a few simple tags from users are not going to be able to touch. It seems to me the next generation of metadata will only be possible when we can figure out a way to get the sort of data that Pandora uses from a community group. It's a daunting challenge that tagging and simple user activities like the Google Image Labeller have just started to slightly touch.

    • by logicnazi (169418)
      I disagree totally.

      Pandora's recommendations suck. I was all excited and kept trying it for awhile but the recommendations all stunk. It was actually worse than just listening to the radio.

      Pandora seemed totally unaware of the qualities that make a great song different from a horrible song in the same broad area. I don't want songs that have similar guitar patterns or some other weird category I want other songs that sound *good* like the ones I like.

      Thanks for the last.fm mention I should try that as it
  • What I want from Web 2.0 is the elimination of spam.

    Solve the problems we all have, not the strawman problems that are created to justify the "solutions" being proposed.

    If you really want to deal with meta-data validation, take that project up in Web 3.0.

    • If you're talking about spam as in email, rather than blog spam or something, POPFile (or your Bayes-based solution of choice) will essentially end spam as a problem for you. I get two thousand spams a week and, on a bad week, see maybe three to four. This took perhaps an hour of my life worth of training over a week to achieve, and I reclassify all of the ones that are mistaken (thirty seconds worth of work a week). Saves me literally hours of deleting emails and I lose a heck of a lot less now that I'm
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      What I want from Web 2.0 is micropayments, by which I mean a form of digital cash with no more than 1% transaction fee down to a minimum transaction fee of 1 cent. I suspenct all the web content that's free now would still be free, but the ability to make money straight from viewers of a web page would be a revolution.
  • by ameyer17 (935373) <slashdot@ameyer17.com> on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:11PM (#17095056) Homepage
    For metadata to be useful at all, there has to be some way to come to a consensus, and the most logical way to come to a consensus is by what the majority thinks. However, there are too many examples where the majority is wrong for metadata to be truly useful in my opinion.
    • Another is using markets. For decisions which are repeatable and judgeable on the basis of external results, markets kick the hindquarters of taking the majority vote. Who cares what the majority of Americans (or of Slashdotters) think of Sony's chances at making a profit on the PS3 -- the market, disproportionately lead by people who a) have been successful in the past and b) are particularly interested in Sony (for good or for ill) has already long since incorporated that information into Sony's share p
    • by logicnazi (169418)
      The majority is pretty damn good in deciding what something is ABOUT. People may be dumb enough to think that intelligent design is a good theory of speciation and natural history but even the most hardcore ID proponent agrees that 'the origin of the species' is a book about speciation and natural history.

      metadata is suppose to tell us what the data is about not whether it is true or false.
  • It'd be interesting to compare the metadata on web pages and compare it with the indexing data generated by a spider...
  • by Dracos (107777) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:39PM (#17095178)

    Web 2.0 is an empty buzzword for the evolution of the internet. There is no single event that can be unequivocably be called the atart of "Web 2.0".

    According to Daniel Glazman [glazman.org], Tim Berners-Lee has officially given up on XHTML as of last week's W3C Advisory Committee meeting in Tokyo, and then apparently explains what Web 3.0 is supposed to be.

    TBL is apparently not the visionary we all thought he was. Apparently no one in the W3C can (or is willing to) figure out how to relegate HTML to the junk heap, like a 286 computer: it was a good idea at the time, but newer technology has come along. Eventually, someone will want to see one in a museum. Contrary to popular reports, the W3C has not fixed itself, but merely rolled back the clock on itself a decade or so.

    After 8 years, what do all the developers who embraced XHTML get for our efforts? Our smorgasboard of web standards becomes a (tag) soup kitchen once again.

    Web 2.0 is a fleeting concept with no substance, it's existence can only be inferred by serruptitiously attributing semi-related events to its influence. Now that the inventor of the WWW has bought into this folly, and simultaneously abandoned one of the W3C's greatest achievements, how can anyone put any stock in what he or anyone else at W3C says?

    I held out longer than most in my hopes that web standards could be straightened out, but now the W3C is dead by its own hand, after 6 or more years of atrophy, manic depression, and schizophrenia.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by KermodeBear (738243)
      Completely incorrect! Web 2.0 will:

      * Cure Cancer
      * Solve World Hunger
      * End All War
      * Show Us the One True God
      * Eliminate Spam
      * Turn Janet Reno Into a Beautiful Woman
      * Help Pandas Mate
      * Prevent Dupe Articles on /.

      As you can see, Web 2.0 is more than a buzzword - it is a miracle!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by stubear (130454)
        There is no force in this universe or any other universe which can prevent dupes on /.
  • by MisterBad (40316) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:56PM (#17095248) Homepage
    So, I'm really dubious about one of the myths about Google and metadata: that Google doesn't use metadata because it's unreliable.

    Google does, in fact, use metadata -- tons of it. Google uses explicit metadata built into headers (like the description, robot control); it uses the rel-license microformat; and it uses titles and h1 headers. It also uses some crucial metadata that's not self-reported by the Web site -- namely, the number and text of links inbound towards a page. It also uses metadata in HTTP headers.

    Google also uses lots of data that is unreliable or could be dishonest. After all, there's a huge dark business of blackhat SEO that has its sole intention to trick Google's bots into thinking pages are more important (or are on a different subject) than they actually are. There is no particular part of an HTML page or any other Web resource that cannot be a lie. Web spiders have to deal with this all the time, and they have to balance the information they get from different data sources to determine what's true and what's not.

    It's true that Google's search results don't depend as heavily on the specific meta keywords the way many first-generation search engines did. But I think that's more a consideration of the remarkable naivete of early search engines than anything else.
  • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:59PM (#17095276)
    This gorilla was last seen apparently emitting methane gas [slashdot.org]. Who knows where it will be seen next? In an electronic voting machine or a DRM format war perhaps?

    Whether emitting gas or validating meta-information, this gorilla has maintained his importance and kept his mass steadily high. Are there larger gorillas? And if there were, would it matter?

    Some thoughts to ponder while the pr0n is loading ... oh, there it's done.
  • by creimer (824291) on Monday December 04, 2006 @12:07AM (#17095326) Homepage
    Haven't you heard that Web 3.0 [userfriendly.org] is being released soon?
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday December 04, 2006 @12:35AM (#17095488) Journal
    The trouble is that if there was a assured way to implement it, it would already have been implemented. Metadata and tags are simply the 'killer app' for web 2.0

    Despite all that has been said in the comments and elsewhere, there simply is no good implementation of metadata for the Internet that applies to all types of data and all instances of data sharing.

    If you want to be a hero, figure this little problem out and the world will beat a path to your door... so to speak.
  • Just Asking For It (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattwarden (699984) on Monday December 04, 2006 @12:39AM (#17095522) Homepage

    Slashdot's moderation and meta-moderation offer one example of getting useful metadata in a non-trusted environment.

    Why, oh why, would you include that at the end of the summary? Even if there weren't horrible issues with the moderation system (there are), this particular audience is going to rip that comment apart.

  • Tepid Moderation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday December 04, 2006 @12:49AM (#17095592) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot's moderation and meta-moderation offer one example of getting useful metadata in a non-trusted environment.


    An example of unaccountable, gameable metadata that generates untrustworthy info that is almost as useless, through abuse, as it is useful.

    Slashdot's moderation could:
    • Require moderators to read the description of their mod before applying it
    • Require a moderator to include a comment whenever downmod'ing
    • Require metamoderators to read the comments whenever metamoderating
    • Allow readers to specify (even anonymous) moderations as unfair, weighting those moderators' mods to zero


    Those few improvements could introduce some accountability and feedback into the now mostly abused meta/moderation system. Until then, Slashdot has little to teach the world about the right way to accumulate useful metadata in an untrustworthy environment.
    • Those few improvements could introduce some accountability and feedback into the now mostly abused meta/moderation system. Until then, Slashdot has little to teach the world about the right way to accumulate useful metadata in an untrustworthy environment.

      I only recently started posting on Slashdot, but I find your claim that the moderation system is mostly abused pretty inaccurate. While your suggestions for improving the system seem like they would be useful, moderation, which is certainly not perfect, successfully enables a large amount of people to share ideas and thoughts. Usually, at least in my experience so far, the truly thoughtful and thought-provoking posts get modded up, not (only) the ones that most readers agree with. I haven't seen anything

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Er, you've posted 23 times [slashdot.org]. You don't have anywhere near enough experience to make the kinds of claims (and dismissals) that you're making.

        Which is reflective of the quality of discourse on Slashdot. Kinda fun, but far from rigorous enough to be taken seriously. The shabby meta/moderation system reinforces that low quality.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Er, you've posted 23 times. You don't have anywhere near enough experience to make the kinds of claims (and dismissals) that you're making.

          That's why I introduced my post with "I only recently started posting on Slashdot" - to indicate that I would be giving the perspective of someone who is new to posting here, not to give the expertise of someone's who's been posting for five years. There's a certain amount to be said about the general picture, and in reading the site for a few years and now beginning to post, my general impression is that the system achieves its purpose more than it doesn't. Yes, I would be horribly out of place to presen

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            Your certainty that the moderation system is very good, in disagreement with my statement to the contrary, conflicts with your disclaimer that you might not know what you're talking about.

            And in fact I have not claimed that you have lowered the quality of discourse on Slashdot. I claimed that the quality of the logic in your post is consistent with the low quality of discoure on Slashdot. Though your question is not necessarily a strawman, because I suppose that your post does lower the quality, though no m
    • by logicnazi (169418)
      I've posted a lot more that 23 times and I agree with his point.

      MOST moderation is good. Most moderation seems to be well intentioned and usually ends up being pretty good. Sure it isn't perfect, and there is going to be lots of disagreement on funny but it isn't some horrible problem.

      That being said it is also far from perfect. Posts in particularly controversial conversations or expressing unpopular ideas are far too likely to get buried even if they are good. Not because of any deep evil among modera
      • by dkf (304284)
        Bah. Remember it's just a website. It doesn't actually matter in the grand scheme of things. If you just keep on trying to post stuff that you think you would want to read and which is Insightful and/or Informative, and do so on many topics, you'll get modded up overall. Remember, don't pursue holy wars or such stuff, not because they're likely to get modded down, but because virtually nobody actually wants to read that sort of thing anyway.

        But if I changed anything, I'd make it so that Funny does get some
  • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:28AM (#17096146) Journal
    The ~real~ Greatest Task of Web 2.x is to establish one good browser as the standard so CSS and ECMA can become highly productive instead of being such a horrific waste of development time.

    This is the war that desktop-bound Redmond cannot afford to lose. One browser to rule them all, the men of Middle Cubicle, the Dvorves of Dvorak, the Geeks of Ajax, the Elvish and the rhinestone-laden Elvish Impersonators. Starring... .NET as the Orcs. Mono as King Theoden. Ballboy Chairkovsky as Saruman. Darl McNovell as Gollum. Darl McNovell's lawyers as more Orcs.

    The rest of this roman à clef I leave to you, my fellow Slash Hobbits.

  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@NosPam.gmail.com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:18AM (#17096668) Homepage
    First of all it just isn't true that slashdot moderation is an example of useful metadata from an untrusted source. The *presenter* of the metadata, i.e., slashdot, is a trusted source. When we see a comment with moderation 5 we know the slashdot system has moderated it 5 and that some random spammer didn't just lie and give it moderation 5. Sure this metadata is created based on 'untrusted' input but that is a different matter entirely and in reality the sources are sorta trusted because only accounts who contribute sufficiently get to moderate. The tagging thing might be an example of a useful app where the metadata is formed from untrusted input but either way the example isn't quite on target.

    As for the issue of metadata on the web it is a serious concern and search engines can't continue to just ignore it. As ajax and other dynamic presentation technologies become more and more common less and less of the content on the web will be encoded in simple HTML. Sure everyone who writes up some fancy ajax site and isn't an idiot will leave some html files around for google to index but this doesn't solve the problem. If everyone who visits the site sees something other than the info in the HTML then the HTML itself has become the metadata.

    This problem is solvable since, as the success of google itself indicates, if the data is being used by the end user for some significant purpose the authors stay honest. The reason websites sometimes give bogus meta tags is because it doesn't affect the user's experience in the least. If we get something like the semantic web where the users are actually making use of the metadata then things are no different than they are now.

    I hope this is what happens as the other option where google starts learning to crawl through ajax calls is much less pleasant. It was bad enough when all ruby actions were gets and google would trigger all sorts of things to happen in your app. It will be far worse if they are deliberately trigger all the JS scripts on your page in order to search effectively. And they *need* to be able to search effectively as that is the heart of why the web works.

    Alternatively maybe google could start incentivizing accurate metadata descriptions of *other* pages (via outgoing links) by giving your web page a boost in the rankings. Thus, like wikipedia, perhaps enough good contributions would outweigh the bad ones.
  • by idlake (850372) on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:22AM (#17096692)
    On the one hand, people are trying to sell Web 2.0 as the "semantic web", on the other hand, AJAX is a big part of Web 2.0 apps and makes it harder and harder to actually get at other people's semantic data.

    In the end, the whole thing is just marketing hype. Web 2.0 is just the haphazard collection of messy technologies people happen to be using on the web in 2006, and don't expect things to get any better in the next few years either: the W3C, Adobe, and Microsoft will see to it that things remain messy and complex, because, heck, if we actually made the technologies clean and simple, how would these companies and the swarm of overpaid and underqualified consultants make a living?
  • Google does not place much importance on the metadata already contained in HTML document headers for search ranking, because it cannot be trusted.

    But the Search Engine Optimization Expert that our Marketing Director hired told her that META tags were crucial to good search engine placement! I spent a week tagging every page on our site with the exact meta values that the SEO Expert told us to use!!

    You can't tell me that the SEO 'Expert' was just making stuff up knowing that there was no way to disprove his
  • stuff around the net using it.

    Some people are still trying to make easy cash about tech-trends it seems. But, it became an old trick.

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