Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #199: Categories
By Cecily (TheLorax)

#1: Cecily (TheLorax) on Dec 4, 2009

In a recent thread there was once again conversation about labeling puzzles. And I don't think that they should be labeled as "wastes of time" or something like that. That is a matter of opinion.

Maybe they could be labeled as pictures, patterns, words, numbers, or random. And like there is an option to see spoilers or not, there could also be an option to see categories or not.

I don't know if that would actually solve a lot of the issues that people are having with WOT puzzles, but it might help to alleviate some of it.
#2: Cro-Magnon (Hermit) on Dec 5, 2009
This is a really interesting idea. I would love to be able to sort by a category, or have some sort of label like you mentioned.

My concern would be if implementing something like that would mean lots of work for Jan. If it's a huge task, he might not want to pursue it, which is completely understandable.
#3: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 5, 2009
Yeah, I've been meaning to add the ability to tag puzzles, and even started working on it a couple times. Maybe I'll get it finished one day. It'd certainly be a great feature.

It's probably not all that hard to implement, but there are some design questions to resolve, like whether to use free form tags - just any word people type in - or a limited list of tags. The former is easier to implement, the latter can be more useful to search with, because there is more consistency, but then there needs to be some way to select a tag you are adding or searching for from a list, which can be difficult to design.

So what's really stopping me is lack of a really satisfactory design rather than the difficulty of programming.
#4: Byrdie (byrdie) on Dec 5, 2009
For my two cents, and that's about what it's worth, I think if you give too many choices (free tagging) you end up with too many choices. Maybe about 5 or 6 categories, if that many, would be plenty. Short answer, if we're given a vote mine is a list to choose from.

I'll start thinking about suggestions in case I'm asked but I'm sure some will be offered.
#5: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 5, 2009
It's worth thinking about some of the categories you would want to have, both things you'd want to search for, and things you'd want to avoid:


edge-logic, smile-logic, color-logic, fancy-logic, summing, two-way logic.

Text, smileys, hearts, flags.

Animals, vehicles, portraits, logos, ...

Religious, political, offensive.

Would you want subcategories? Animals>Pandas, Animals>Fish, Animals>Birds

If you start listing categories you think it would be kind of nice to have (say if you could both search for puzzles with a tag, and filter out puzzles with a tag) then the list of categories tends to get fairly large. That means either free form or some hierarchical selection system.

Who can tag puzzles? Author? Anyone? Author, admin, and selected list of others? If anyone can tag a puzzle, can anyone remove a tag from a puzzle?
#6: Cecily (TheLorax) on Dec 5, 2009
My opinion, very generic tags like I mentioned before

pictures, patterns, words, numbers, or random

That way the tags themselves only serve as guides and not as spoilers.

I think free form tagging would end up in way too many tags out there and not serve to being able to avoid things like pattern puzzles, because you get people that will tag those as 'pretty' or something else along those lines.

Also, with the more generic tag selection the quality of the puzzle will serve more to actually reflect if someone wants to do it.

Example: Right now, most of the hard core puzzle solvers rate the generic pattern puzzles as poor, because they are not what they want to be doing, but if you know it is a pattern puzzle when you go into it, then you can rate the quality of the pattern itself, giving more of a guide for those that actually enjoy doing those types of puzzles.
#7: Teresa K (fasstar) on Dec 5, 2009
I personally think adding tags will make things more complicated. It's only helpful if all the puzzles are tagged correctly. Jan's questions show that it's not as simple as it seems.

So who is going to add tags to the 6,000+ puzzles that have been published? Volunteers anyone? :-)

Please, if you add tags, don't add one for the type of logic. If I know ahead of time a puzzle requires edge logic, that takes the fun out of discovering that for myself. But, that's just my opinion.
#8: Cecily (TheLorax) on Dec 5, 2009
I agree Teresa, I wouldn't like tags that eluded to how to solve a puzzle.

I too have been thinking about the already existing puzzles and if they could/should be tagged...I haven't come up with an answer for that. But I would be willing to help tag the puzzles I have already finished. I do really enjoy using this site. (previous post withstanding)
#9: Merili (merilinnuke) on Dec 5, 2009
I like the "pictures, patterns, words, numbers, or random" option Cecily suggested. That way you know what to expect, but it's not a spoiler.
#10: Cro-Magnon (Hermit) on Dec 6, 2009
I agree that the more generic tags would be best, with the addition of a 'no white space' one. Free-form, I think, would result in chaos. Even a simple typo or spelling mistake could result in there being categories/tags for "pictures, piktures, pikytures, pic, pics, picturs" etc etc. It would defeat the purpose of having tags at all. [“pictures” is just used as an example! Not saying it should be a category!]

Regarding who could apply tags. I would think the author of the puzzle, Jan of course, perhaps some trusted 'admins'?? But not just any general user that felt like it, because that could result in a big mess too.

As far as design goes, the site already includes a way to filter out puzzles that require guessing. I think implementing tags or labels in a similar fashion would work. Abbreviations, or letters, or symbols for the various categories, just like with the existing question mark. That way, a user could filter out certain categories, or sort by certain categories, or see at a glance what general type of puzzle it is. But then, I've never designed a website in my life, so I could just be talking out my, um, posterior.

It does seem like a lot of work, though. :-(
#11: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 6, 2009
Clarification: Tags wouldn't be displayed on unsolved puzzles. You'd only see the tags AFTER you solved the puzzle, probably just below the description. So generally they wouldn't be spoilers. Of course, if you searched for puzzles with the tags "pandas, edge-logic" and solved one of those puzzles that came up, then you wouldn't be in for a big surprise.

The other way to use tags would be to blacklist certain tags, so no puzzles with that tag would show up on your list of new puzzles, or they'd only show up with a black mark or something.

So used in these ways, specific tags become much more useful. A tag like "pictures" would be pointless. That's 99% of all puzzles. If I'm going to do the work of implementing a tagging system, I'd want it to be more generally useful than anything you'd get with an impoverished system of tags like that.

Most places I've seen actually use free-text tags. These are by far the easiest to implement. One of the user interfaces used to search among such tag spaces are "tag clouds". These are those things where they show a lot of key words, some in bigger print than others. The tags shown in the biggest print are the most commonly used ones. I can't say I'm terribly fond of this approach, but it is workable.
#12: Cecily (TheLorax) on Dec 6, 2009
I'm not sure how knowing what the tag for a puzzle is after you have solved it would be useful...
If the point of the tag is to be able to avoid certain types of puzzles, then knowing after you have completed it would defeat the purpose wouldn't it?
#13: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 6, 2009
As I said, you could set a "blacklist" of tags you don't like. Then the puzzle either wouldn't appear on the "new puzzles" list, or it would appear with black mark next to it. Then you could avoid it, but still do other puzzles without knowing what their tags are, except that it didn't include any of the tags you black listed. Of course, it wouldn't work on new puzzles that hadn't been tagged yet.
#14: Cecily (TheLorax) on Dec 6, 2009
OK I got ya. :-)
#15: Adam Nielson (monkeyboy) on Dec 7, 2009
I personally am still going to solve any new puzzle that comes out anyway, regardless of any tags. I am sure many others will do the same. I think tags will be helpful to some people, however, so they can avoid certain types of puzzles that they would not care to solve.
#16: Merili (merilinnuke) on Dec 7, 2009
ditto #15. Because I've already solved all 6000+ older puzzles, I'll solve every new puzzle posted.
#17: Jota (jota) on Dec 17, 2009
I will love some identification to choose what puzzles to make. Currently if I go by the ratings, I get mostly huge puzzles. Smaller puzzles don't generally get high ratings. I've been doing my job at WCP and then mostly older puzzles of Jan, Martial etc. If I find an author who attracts me, I try to do her/his puzzles.
Another category in the "find puzzles" might suffice: no blanks, text, ...
I can volunteer to help if needed.
#18: Fran (rmm) on Jan 7, 2010
I think tagging can get out of hand on this website. You'll have too many people tagging with all the negative/mean/rude/stupid words they use in the comments.
#19: Cro-Magnon (Hermit) on Jan 13, 2010
I agree, tagging could get out of hand. For instance, we could end up with a bunch of puzzles tagged as "very pretty".

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