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I'm thinking of something like Gource that could be applied to the Stack Exchange family of sites. What do you think?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

In the same spirit as amelvin's answer, except this time we're pulling data from the API, so we can ignore all the cruft like 'tag' and 'ago', here's a few interesting ones (Hover for description):

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Any other suggestions for this is of course welcome

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"programmers" "ever" use "gas" and "station" in comments a lot? – YOU Mar 20 '11 at 17:01
@YOU The raw data for that one: The word 'gas' appeared 7 times, which is pretty high considering that we're talking about comment's text here – Yi Jiang Mar 20 '11 at 17:08
Any chance you can upload a script that does this? This is sweet. – ripper234 Mar 21 '11 at 8:12
On the second cloud you can clearly read "please" "make" "things" "work". :-) – Alexander Gladysh Mar 21 '11 at 11:28
Have I just not had enough coffee yet, or are c# and .net missing from the 'tags' tag cloud?? – AakashM Mar 21 '11 at 11:40
@AakashM Punctuations are stripped, so C# would became C (though C is also gone because of the 'ignore common words' option I think), while .Net become Net I think. In retrospect I think I should rerun the thing with both option off – Yi Jiang Mar 21 '11 at 12:49
Try the "advanced" interface, which lets you use arbitrary strings (such as C#). – Jonathan Feinberg Mar 21 '11 at 13:44

Since Gource is by default for commit logs, I ran Gource on the SO log, but even with playing around with the options, I can't get it to give me something decently short. Rather than do the entire commit history, here's a 2-minute clip of the last month:

Here's a screenshot - the branches are directories and the leaves are files. In the video, it also shows people flying around representing the users doing the commits.

Gource still image of SO log

Ok, so this is all well and good, but not really about the site topic. (; I originally thought (read: didn't bother to check) that their custom log format could be used for visualizing tags - which is why I started to fool around with it at all.

If you want to use Gource to visualize something other than the supported log formats, there is a pipe ('|') delimited custom log format option:

  • timestamp - A unix timestamp of when the update occured.
  • username - The name of the user who made the update.
  • type - initial for the update type - (A)dded, (M)odified or (D)eleted.
  • file - Path of the file updated.
  • colour - A colour for the file in hex (FFFFFF) format. Optional.

Example: 1275543595|andrew|A|src/main.cpp

Given that log format, I'm not sure I see Gource itself being a good fit for this.

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What does each blob represent? – ChrisF Mar 20 '11 at 18:20
@ChrisF, branches are directories, leaves are files. – Rebecca Chernoff Mar 20 '11 at 18:33
Can you upload a video snippet? – ripper234 Mar 21 '11 at 8:11
@ripper234, will do tomorrow. – Rebecca Chernoff Mar 21 '11 at 8:40
I wonder if this kind of representation can be applied to tags, where a tag is a node and a line goes to other tags used on the same post, and where the intensity of the line is the number of times the two linked tags are used together. – Thomas Owens Mar 21 '11 at 12:30
@ripper234, video uploaded! – Rebecca Chernoff Mar 21 '11 at 23:23
@Rebecca - what log did you run this on, btw? The video isn't satisfying enough (thanks for uploading though!), I'd like to run Gource myself. – ripper234 Mar 22 '11 at 0:20
@ThomasOwens, see my edit regarding their log format and tying this into tags. – Rebecca Chernoff Mar 22 '11 at 0:22
You should play with the Gource's options a bit - it's more fun when you can see names of the main modules/folders, and committers. – ripper234 Mar 22 '11 at 7:14
@ripper234, those are on by default - I did play with them to turn them off! Wayyyyy too busy with them on. – Rebecca Chernoff Mar 22 '11 at 14:28

I think a Wordle does something interesting along these lines - cutting and pasting the current SO front page text (probably not the best implementation) creates:

enter image description here

Or even this Tagxedo visualization: enter image description here

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It would be nice to have something like this Icons of the Web poster, but then with user accounts in stead of icons, and scaled by different variables e.g. reputation (off course), number of answers, number of questions, ...

Icons of the Web Scaled by Alexa reach

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Cool! I tried this on SO, this is the result: – Agos Mar 21 '11 at 12:07

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