Touting Today’s Top Tech Triumph, Toluu Tackles Tagging!

Toluu’s tags, totally tremendous!  Today’s timesink: tagging Toluu totality!  Ok, enough of that, this really is great news.

Caleb Elston, Toluu’s founder, tells us that tagging was the most requested feature for Toluu.  I’m very impressed with the implementation as tagging really permeates the site now, it’s feels like a true integration, not a hacked together add on.   When adding tags, the auto-complete will cut down on typos.  Along with tagging you’ll see better sorting options on many pages.

A word of warning, if you reimport your OPML you will lose your exsisting tags so you’re gonna want to sync everything before you get started and then use the bookmarklet (or single add) to add new feeds to your Toluu account.

Let’s take a look at some screen shots:

Top Used Tags for a users now on their Profile

Top Used Tags for a user now on their Profile

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You can click Top Tags to see all of a user's tags, notice the sort options

You can click Top Tags to see all of a user's tags. Notice the new sort options.

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Click a tag to see all feeds a users has tagged with it

Click a tag to see all feeds that user has tagged with it

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Quickly add tags from My Feeds, hover to get add button, click for tag dialog

Quickly add tags from My Feeds, hover to get add button, click for tag dialog

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Click a tag and see all the feeds with that tag

Click a tag and see all the feeds with that tag

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Click a feed and goto it's tab menu for all sorts of tagging goodness, including suggestions

Click a feed and go to it's tab menu for all sorts of tagging goodness, including similar feeds to check out

I’m sure I missed some things but that’s a good rundown of some of the most important additions.  This is a big upgrade in usability for Toluu but it relies on Toluu users taking the time to tag their feeds, something that provides only a small amount of additional functionality for themselves.  As people use the tagging system you’ll see Toluu making changes to get the most bang out of it.  I’ll go ahead and predict that grouping of tags that are similar except for extraneous characters and plurals will be added.   Enough of me, go play with it yourself and get tagging – I need to find some new podcasts!

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Toluu Pops It’s Collar With New Popup Tooltip

Toluu has a added a small new feature to your Activity Page that turns out to be a big usability enhancement, here’s what Caleb, Toluu’s founder had to say about it:

I found that many times I had no idea what a feed was about but, I didn’t want to click on it and then have to click back if I wasn’t interested I wanted a really quick way to get some more info so that is how the tooltip came to be it shows the 5 most recent post titles from the feed and you can click a title and go directly to the source

With this new enhancement the Activity page has just gotten much more useful, and it’s good news for bloggers as well.  Those of us who are total marketing geniuses and not only put 2 silent Ks in their blog name, but also give no context clues about the content, can now rest easier.  All you would have to do is hover over ‘The Knight Knetwork’ and you’d see my 5 latest posts, giving you a chance to visit a post with an interesting title and see what you really think about my writing and subject matter.  Here’s an idea of what you’ll see:

Toluu\'s new Tooltip popup

Kudos again to Toluu for adding enhancements that really increase the usabillity of the site, and don’t forget to Toluu ‘The Knight Knetwork’, those silent Ks actually speak volumes.

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RSS Day

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Happy RSS Awareness Day! If you don’t know about RSS and “feeds”, then today is the day to educate yourself! Head over to RSSDay.info to learn more about the day and to find a few links to get you started. Otherwise if you are a sometimes RSS Reader or a heavy “feeder” then you really should check out the Toluu sharing and suggestion service to take your RSS game to the next level. Toluu is still in beta but I have invites, just leave a comment on my interview with the founder of Toluu, Caleb Elston, letting me know you’re interested.

Interview: Toluu Founder, Caleb Elston

toluu logo I recently wrote a little about Toluu when I released a Toluu badge widget, since that time I have really grown to enjoy the RSS sharing and suggestion service and to respect it’s creator, Caleb Elston. His ability to listen and focus on the user’s needs is driving Toluu, a side project for Elston, to grow and earn attention with a speed that would make many full time startups jealous. Between working full time and building Toluu, he was kind enough to answer a few questions:

  • First off, can you tell us a little about yourself?
  • I have always been interested in computers and the internet, my Mom and Dad are both programmers, so I was surrounded with technology from an early age. I was going to school for a business degree, but in my spare time I was always working on some internet project or another; doing the design, planning the interaction, thinking about what would actually be useful, or how to present data and ideas in a new way that was simpler than had been done before. I was recruited by a startup before I finished school and that is where I currently work.

  • Is Toluu a project or a full time job?
  • Toluu is a side project for me. I have always enjoyed working on more than one project at a time. It helps keep things fresh and allows my brain to work on different types of problems at the same time. It is also great having to learn new skills for a particular project that then see those new learnings trickle into your other work. Instead of watching a lot of TV or just bumming around the house at night or on the weekends I work on Toluu.

  • Many recent startups have taken on unconventional names to have something short and pronounceable. What led you pick Toluu?
  • I think that shorter names are better than longer names. I also think it is better to find a name that has little to no meaning, so that meaning can grow into the name based on the reputation and thoughts people have about the project or company. Starbucks is a great example of a name that is part of the lexicon now, but had little meaning before Howard Schultz grew the company into the Starbucks we know today. Toluu sounds playful to me and it was a name that my friends and family actually remembered a few days after I mentioned it to them as a possibility; needless to say it stuck.

  • With some of the large feed reading services offering feed suggestions already, what advantages does Toluu have that should draw people to upload their data instead of just using what’s already at hand?
  • Toluu aims to make finding new and interesting feeds easier and more rewarding. We think that connecting with your friends and those who have similar tastes to you is the best way to find interesting feeds. We are completely focused on creating the best experience for discovering these feeds. Many feed readers are integrating suggestions of one form or another, but the problem is they treat it as a minor feature. They all have so many other functionalities they need to focus on that suggestions are just an afterthought, they are tacked on. The other problem is that feed readers are quite isolated. You are isolated from your friends and you are isolated to your particular feed reader. Toluu is feed reader agnostic so you don’t have to get people to switch feed readers to use Toluu, and we match users against everyone else on Toluu so you are very quickly brought into the community and finding new people and feeds.

  • Have you had to explain Toluu to a parent/grandparent or older relative, how did that go?
  • I have explained Toluu to all sorts of people, and it has gone pretty well. When you frame it as, “You can see what your friends actually read and it helps you discover new things to read” people get it. Terms like RSS, ATOM, OPML, hCard, and OpenID tend to confuse people outside of blogosphere. These are our jargon. I think as more mainstream sites adopt these technologies it makes it easier for people to use the underlying technology in a casual way without even understanding how it works. I hope that Toluu can help in some small way to make these things easier for people to understand and use on a day to day basis.

  • Toluu is taking off, I know you’ve already had to upgrade your server to handle the load. Can you share a few insights into what it’s been like and what you’ve learned?
  • We just launched our private beta about 2 weeks ago and the response has been absolutely tremendous. I did not expect people to latch on so quickly or feel so passionate about the service in just a few weeks, but people have, and I am so grateful to them. We have upgraded our servers twice since launch to deal with the growth in users, feeds, and the exponential growth in the number of calculations we compute that power our recommendation and matching algorithms. I think the most important thing for anyone launching a new webapp is to be available to your users as much as possible. Answer emails as quickly as you can and be where the conversation is happening. I read every blog post anyone writes about Toluu and answer any questions or address concerns they may have brought up. Remembering that the service would just be a pile of code in a datacenter somewhere if it weren’t for the community is a humbling thing to remember everyday.

  • Is there anything else you’re working on or that’s coming up you want to plug?
  • We are still ironing out the bugs that users are finding with the site and we are totally grateful to our users for working through the kinks and driving the service to where it is today. As we continue to grow and let more users into the beta we will have to continue to scale our infrastructure to handle the demand. Regarding new shiny things, we have many new features and improvements already in development and we will be sure to let you know when they launch!

    If anyone would like to signup for the beta leave a comment below and we will coordinate with David to get you an invite.

Thanks again to Caleb for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions. If you already use the service we would love to have your impressions, and as Caleb said – if you want to try the service out, then please leave a comment and we’ll see if we can’t get an invite to you.

Toluu Badge Widget

Toluu is a new RSS sharing and suggestion tool that is getting close to emerging from beta (let me know of you want an invite and I’ll see what I can do). I threw together a quick widget to allow WordPress users with widgetized sidebars to easily add and customize a Toluu badge.   More info later so check back to this post, but until then please give it a try and let me know how you like it.

-= Click Here to Download the Toluu Widget =-

*Install the widget and leave a comment here and you’ll get a free membership to WPDesigner.com’s Theme Club!

Install:

  • Download from the above link
  • Unzip it and drop the file in your WordPress plugin folder
  • Activate on the plugin menu
  • Goto Presentation -> Widgets
  • Drag the ‘Toluu Badge’ Widget from your available widgets to your sidebar
  • Click on the little note icon and customize
  • Press Enter or click the ‘X’ to save and you’re done!