The Daily Trap, Creating Personal Traps: The Basics
If you’re lucky enough to have gotten a private beta account, you can create personal traps. Personal traps are traps created by you that learn your particular interests and tastes. In this post I’m going to walk through the basic process of making a personal trap.
To begin, click on the “New Trap” button in the upper right hand corner of your screen.
This will prompt you to enter keywords. When selecting keywords, try and think of a word or words that accurately describe the topic or concept you want to create a trap around.
Be aware that the system will search for content that contains ALL of your keywords, so try and use as few words as possible to describe what you’d like to see in your trap. You can hone in on the finer points of your trap through training. In this example I started a trap on “chocolate.”
After you’ve entered your keyword(s) you will be prompted to give your trap a title. Title it whatever you’d like, this is for your reference. For my chocolate trap I ended up using a descriptive title “Chocolate” but you could use things like “Final Project Biology” or “Work: Information Ontology” whatever best suites your needs and preferences.
You will then be taken to your intitial trap contents and prompted to rate them to train your trap. Ranking is how you tell the system exactly what you want to see in your trap. Use the thumbs up and down to rate content that fits or does not fit with what you’d like to see in your trap. In this case I gave my first three articles a thumbs up because they were all about chocolate (yay!).
If you see an article that does not fit in with what you’d like to see in your trap, use the thumbs down button to let the system know it was wrong. In this case I got an article about coffee, which I also like, but I have a coffee trap, and coffee is not chocolate (silly computer). When you dislike an article you will be prompted to select a reason. Use “is not interesting to me” to identify content that does not fit topically into your trap, “I do not like the source” to identify sources you would never like to see again (so if you hate a blogger or a political point of view, this is your recourse), and “Spam/Abuse” to identify content that is bad on other levels and help us make Trap.it better (sorry in advance for any spam, we’re trying hard!)
If you neglect to train your trap your account will bother you about it. This is to ensure that you get good and accurate content. Trap.it is more than a search so entering your keywords is only half the battle. The system wants you to teach it what you want. Even if all your initial results look good (yay!) the system needs a little feedback to make sure it’s on the right track. It’s kind of like when you are told to do something for the first time, even if you start out doing it right, you feel more confident and do it better and faster when you get positive feedback.
Once your trap has enough feedback it will continue to pull content to fill your trap. Continue training your trap as needed to hone in on exactly what you’re looking for.
Them’s the basics, here’s a couple of notes on selecting a topic:
Traps can be started on all sorts of things and some things work better than others. In my experience general noun-based traps take off the fastest, can be surprisingly fun, and offer a new way of following information on the web (think: bears, forests, ice cream, bacon, britney spears…). More abstract concepts (lonliness, poverty, poetry) can be equally interesting, but the nature of abstract concepts is they tend to offer sometimes more abstract results. Finally, place/location based traps (Portland, Paris, Mexico) tend to be a little harder to start because these keywords end up in a lot of content that isn’t really about these places. We’re working on this, but it may save you some frustration to know. Get creative, go trap crazy, and let us know what works!