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Frequently Asked Questions about ZoomClouds

Is ZoomClouds a mashup?

March 5th, 2006, 18:38

By in FAQ
Well, it actually depends...

ZoomClouds uses two different content analysis tools. One is the Yahoo! Content Analysis API. The other is our own content analysis tool.

When ZoomClouds uses the Y! API, then ZoomClouds is acting as a mash-up, by making use of the data sent by the Y! API. When ZoomClouds doesn't use the Y! API, then it isn't.

So when does ZoomClouds use one or another tool? Simple. When you just build a cloud, update it, reload it, etc. ZoomClouds tries to use the Yahoo! API first. Why? Because it's much faster than ours (meaning where the Y! API takes 2 seconds, our content analysis tool takes 6) and sometimes it's better at picking new terms.

On the other side, our content analysis tool takes a bit longer, but it's really good at remembering things. More often than not, our content analysis tool does a better job at extracting terms from blogs it already knows. But because it's somewhat slower, we let it do its job behind the scenes when it's time to update the cloud when nobody's looking. Unfortunately that happens at most once a day.

Let's look at some examples. Here's a cloud that used only Yahoo's content analysis tool.

And here's the same feed but using only our content analysis tool:

They're a bit different, but they're both, um, good looking clouds. Notice "our" cloud has a nicer weight distribution though.

Sometimes Yahoo's tool fails miserably, we're not sure why. This is a cloud from a blog after using Yahoo's API:

And this is the cloud we've got when we noticed how terrible job Y!'s API did and we ran our tool instead:

Now we're talking!

There's one more instance when our content analysis tool will take over Yahoo's and that's if we've ran out of our daily Y! API quota. Basically, after 5,000 calls in a 24 hours period, Yahoo won't accept any more API calls. Well, if we get over that quota, we wouldn't be able to create or update any cloud until that 24 period was over, so when that happens - or anytime the Y! API fails for whatever reason - then our content analysis tool will take over.

Ideally what we'll eventually do is, when you build your cloud for the first time, run Yahoo's API first, then immediately our own content analysis tool. But for that, we need to optimize our algorithms a bit more, so that you don't have to wait say 30 seconds to get your cloud updated.

Could we live without Yahoo's API? Yes, certainly we could. But as long as we can use two content analysist tools instead of one, what's the harm?

How many days does my cloud cover the moment I create it?

March 1st, 2006, 3:35

By in FAQ
As you know, when you create your cloud, you are asked how many days worth of content you'd like to be taken into account when building your cloud.

Some people mistakenly think that if they select "Forever" the cloud they immediately get is based on everything they've published on their entire blog since day 1, or if they select "the last 365" the cloud they get right away is based on the last year, and so on.

That's not true.

When you create your cloud, ZoomClouds will go and fetch your feed, and the cloud that you get at that moment is based only on whatever content is in your feed at that time, which usually is the last 10-15 posts.

What the "Days worth" option indicates is, as time goes by, how many days worth of content you want your cloud to reflect from the date you create your cloud.

I just placed a cloud at my site but some tags aren't as relevant as I was hoping they'd be

February 27th, 2006, 0:58

By in FAQ
It's not unusual to see ZoomClouds at the very beginning not selecting the very best results you'd expect. It's not normal to see virtually all results to be completely out of focus either, but to find a few terms that make you go "ok that shouldn't be there" is not a very rare occurrence. It is something that will self-correct within a short period of time, and it has a very logical explanation, due to several reasons:

  • At first, ZoomClouds will analyze the content it finds in your RSS feed, which will likely only include your last 10-15 posts. As you write more articles, ZoomClouds will have more content to analyze so when it has to calculate what the most relevant terms are from new content, the results will be more accurate.

  • Even more important is that ZoomClouds doesn't just analyze what's in your feed and accumulates the data, but in fact, when it has to analyze new content, it remembers the results of all of its previous analysis and takes that knowledge into account when it comes to determine what's relevant and what's not. You could say - in fact, you can say - that ZoomClouds becomes smarter and sharper as it finds new content from you.

  • One important detail is that when ZoomClouds analyzes new content for your cloud, not only it takes into account the results from analyzing past content from you, but it also takes advantage of anything else it has learned from other blogs, so in general terms, the intelligence ZoomClouds acquires from each and every feed is later applied as it analyzes new content for each and every cloud.

  • And last, how could you have a great content analysis system without some human touch? When you look at the results from analyzing your feeds, you can make those results even better by defining not only unwanted terms (terms you don't want to see in your cloud no matter what) but also wanted terms, that is, terms ZoomClouds apparently missed but that you find them to be relevant. It is obvious that when you enter these wanted or unwanted terms, not only you're helping ZoomClouds to better analyze your content, but you also help ZoomClouds in general terms to better analyze future content.

Therefore, if you just created a cloud and you're not completely happy with the results, it's just a matter of time - hopefully not long - until your cloud starts to show much more relevant results.

Hint: If all you do is create your cloud but do not place it anywhere, ZoomClouds will not learn much from your content. That's because ZoomClouds doesn't just update your cloud periodically simply because you created it, but it needs to see that your cloud is also being shown to people. Just one visit a day will do. If you don't place the cloud anywhere, ZoomClouds will think "well, nobody's visiting this page, so why should I update the cloud?". You can of course come to your ZoomClouds account and update it manually every day, but it's much better - and convenient - to simply place your cloud and let the magic happen behind the scenes. This may change in the future, but for now, that's how it works.

I entered my blog's URL but then I got an error

February 26th, 2006, 17:50

By in FAQ
That's expected.

When you're asked to enter the URL, you're not supposed to enter your blog's  URL, but your blog's feed URL, more specifically your blog's RSS or Atom feed URL.

These are the only two formats so far understood by ZoomClouds: RSS and Atom. If you enter a URL that is not a RSS/Atom feed, you will most certainly get an error. Nowadays virtually all blogging platforms offer  RSS or Atom syndication feeds (or both), so if you're not sure what your feed URL is, check with the support team at whatever place you're hosting your blog, or if you're using some particular software, check the software's documentation.

For example, if your blog is in and the blog URL is , then the feed URL (the one you need to give to ZoomClouds) is

If you have a blog with, and the blog URL is , then the feed URL is

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