The catalog is dead, long live the Catalog!

I’m the first one to acknowledge that our catalog hasn’t been great. To be honest it was quite awful. And so I’m super happy to say that we killed the old one and just minutes ago released a new an seriously good Catalog.

Why does it matter? Because number 1 complaint our users, especially new ones, have is that they can’t find enough interesting content to flattr. So they forget about Flattr and become inactive. Not good.

The new catalog adresses a number of issues and I’ll highlight the most important features and improvements.

New categories

Looking at what’s the most popular content being added on Flattr we came up with a new list of categories. We might add new ones later as you add new type of content. If you don’t think your stuff fits in any of those then make some noise!

Music, Video, Software, Games, Podcasts, Photos, Comics, Blog & News, Charities

Show, don’t tell – thumbnails are beautiful

One thing that we have wanted to solve for a long time are making the catalog much more visual. You might have seen that we implemented thumbnail placeholders on thing pages and dashboard with the new design. This was of course done with the idea of replacing them with “real” images. After some API magic and love from our friends at embed.ly we managed to get the entire site visual.

Trending Things

To make sure new content can successfully compete with old and popular stuff we implemented a clever decay algorithm which is the heart and soul of the new catalog. This way you’ll almost always see new and interesting Things, not the same old Tim Pritlove (hi, Tim!) over and over again.

Search – it’s magic

The search engine now includes a lot more meta data giving better relevance in the search results. The results page is still the old and ugly one but we’ll get that whipped into shape in not time.

Nerd alert! New categories combines data type and tags

To be able to extend the categories and make them useful, split, change and update them we have combined data type with tags for the categories above. This means people that submit things to our catalog need to care about how they tag their things to make them show up in the categories. Read more about how this is done here: The categories, they are a changin’

Puh, that was probably one of the biggest updates to the system so far. Hope you like where we are going.

Drop your thoughts in the comments, I’ll personally flattr every single piece of constructive feedback.

29 thoughts on “The catalog is dead, long live the Catalog!

  1. I love it. The way it looks now actually reminds me of the Kickstarter site, that is always fun to browse for new projects and insanely easy for even the newest of newbies to figure out.

    One question, and I may just be stupid here, but is there any way to change the icon for your Things, or does that just happen by magic?

  2. Andreas: No the current catalog does not, but it will be possible as a search query.

    Aelius: Thanks! That was the experience we where looking for. The tumbnails are collected via embed.ly that gets if from the site using open graph, microformats and img tags. At the moment you can’t change it but we plan to fix so you can.

    Alias: They are queued, fetched and cached on first request of them on the site, so in time most things will have the images. As there are lots of things without images right now the queue for these fetches is long and it might take quite some time before the image is exists. But it will be there when it’s done!

  3. As a musician I have another suggestion: it would be great to be able to acutally listen to music while browsing the catalog. Without thinking about how to implement this… But it would be great to stream the music directly in the catalog.

    Maybe an additional field to link to soundcloud or a similar service could be added to things?

    Just thinking loud…

  4. I’m really glad that Flattr took that step, and it looks great and works like a charm!

    One thing I would like to suggest: I noticed that some thumbnails are just arbitrary images from the website, e.g. buttons and banners. Could you provide a way how to tell the catalog which thumbnail to use? This could be done via meta tags in the page, and auto-submit plugs could create that tag automatically from a featured image. (Facebook uses a similar way where page owners can suggest images, otherwise you often find arbitrary ad banners etc. as thumbnail.)

  5. @Christoph: We support the same sources as Facebook – if your page looks nice when shared on Facebook, then it should look nice on our page as well. Use Open Graph metadata for the images and it should all work fine: http://ogp.me/

  6. Idea: In the “add button manually” – Add a drop-down menu or combobox with “catalog categories”, selecting a category automatically selects proper data type and fills in the needed tags. Also changing the data type and filling/changing the tags selects the proper catalog category automatically in this box – this would greatly simplify this business for non IT ppl, and all you need to implement this is just some smart javascript ;-)

  7. It is definitely a step in the right direction but … it’s still a bit hidden.

    One thing that it made me think about though: in the Dashboard, instead of the current perma-notification of the Chrome extension (I have it already!) it would be nice to have some things that you haven’t discovered yet listed.. not a huge lot, just two or three, refreshed each time you enter..

    It would be even better if it was something kinda like twitter’s “Who to follow” — but given that there isn’t a “connection graph” in Flattr it would be hard (okay it would still be possible to check who you flattr and who flattr you directly, the “on flattr” kind, but it’s not proper). Maybe extract the two-three elements from different categories such “flattr by people who flattr like you” and beside that “flattr by people who flattr you”.

  8. We have been thinking of ways to push the catalog to become more visible. At least there is a notification in dashboard now.

    Some kind of “recommendation” system is planned somehow. But it’s a complicated task.

    Btw, you can remove the “puff for chrome extension” with the X. So it’s not permanent really.

    The PS question I don’t understand, hehe

  9. Overall this looks pretty good – very simple and clean.
    I’d like to be able to see more than just 30 items per category, though – why is there no “next page” link? Alternatively, you could load more content dynamically when the user scrolls towards the page end.
    Another small note: the 3-line limit for the description seems too low. Many descriptions are truncated after a few words, which often makes them pretty much useless.

  10. The new design looks slick, but i miss the “recently added to flattr” feature the old catalog had. Now I can only browse what “most people have ever flattr’d” and the “what’s hot now”, no more seeking pearls no one else have found, or lesser popular flattrs. And isn’t that what flattr is all about; supporting lesser popular or known creators and flattring them.

  11. Ya, that is a use case that the new catalog does not really handle. We have built the catalog to actually show stuff that our users says is great. And as our trending algorithm is quite “friendly” towards new things the idea is that this will get new cool stuff visible. And to be honest the “latest” before was more or less just a “random stuff from the web” as everything got up there.

  12. Perhaps I’ve missed something, but how do we get our own websites included in your catalog?

    I’ve got a photo website and would love more people to find it. Do you have an application process or a form to fill in etc? Would be great if this process was more obvious and how things get to the top of the list was more transparent.

    Anyway, thanks for the good work! I hope this takes off, coz it’s awesome!

    Thanks :)

  13. Two more suggestions:
    You could display “Editors’ Picks” – either here at the blog or as part of the catalog.
    Also would be great to have a widget with own things to embed somewhere else. But that’s probably more complicated to implement, right?

  14. Philip, adding stuff to the catalog is simple, go to https://flattr.com/submit and pick the manual option. Fill out data and you’re all set. If it’s your photo gallery then make sure you add tag “photo”, that ensures it shows up in the right category.

    We always encourage everyone to put buttons on their site too and tell their visitors about what it is and how it works as it increases the number of flattrs they get.

    Christoph, we actually have half-cooked “editor’s picks” solution built, let’s see when we get around finishing it.

    As to a widget with your thing – what use case do you see for it?

  15. @Siim To display my top or last flattred things on a website. You get boxes for Flickr galleries, YouTube and Vimeo galleries, you can display your Bambuser videos wherever you can embed html, Facebook offers it for “recommended” stuff. Presently I have to send visitors to my public profile if I want to show them my things from all websites. It’s always better to keep visitors on your page.

  16. the catalog’s good…but how to add ur website/work in the catalog !??
    plzz help me !!

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