Stylin', Profilin'

Greetings from new editor Ben Zimmer. You may have noticed some changes around here recently. We've been working to make the Visual Thesaurus a comfier, more personalized experience. The customized word lists have been such a big hit that we're now giving every subscriber a profile page, which you can tailor as you like.

Profiles are enabled for everyone with an individual subscription to the Visual Thesaurus. Your default profile will show all the word lists you've created, as well as your recent comments. If you feel like sharing more about yourself with the Visual Thesaurus community, you can fill in the "About Me" section, with optional links to your profile pages on other social networking sites. You can also pick your favorite and least favorite words, your favorite quote, and favorite topics discussed in our online magazine. Recent articles in the topics you choose will appear on your profile page. And you can see the profiles of other subscribers simply by clicking on any user name you come across in article comments or attached to a word list. Word lists are also a little spiffier: now you can make comments on individual words in your lists and rate lists created by others.

How do you get to your profile? When you're logged in on the website, just click on your name in the upper right corner of any page. If your name doesn't show up as a link, then you don't have a profile set up for your account. Some accounts, such as those for institutional subscribers, do not support profiles yet.

I've just been tinkering with my own profile. Now I've got a favorite word ("omphaloskepsis," a lovely Greek word for navel-gazing) and a least favorite word ("mulct," an ugly old word meaning "money extracted as a penalty" or "impose a fine on"). I've also added my very first word list, sesquipedalianism. In my list, I tried to find the longest words in the Visual Thesaurus (20 or more letters, no hyphens or spaces please). As you might be able to tell, I'm a bit of a long-word nut (just call me a "sesquipedalianist," from "sesquipedalian," describing words that are a foot and a half long). For more on the subject, check out a column I wrote on the blog of Oxford University Press (my old stomping grounds) with the extra long title, "Hippopotomonstrosesquipedalianism!"

Finally, on the main page for profiles, you'll see that we now list the top word listers and the top commenters in the VT community. And the subscribers who make it to those lists will be awarded with "badges" next to their names. That might lead to some friendly competition for the top spots, but don't expect the rankings to stay the same for too long! Like everything else around here, the lists are constantly being refreshed, just to keep you on your toes.

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Comments from our users:

Tuesday May 19th 2009, 8:49 PM
Comment by: Roger Dee (Haslett, MI)Top 10 Commenter
I love words as such and the feelings some evoke. As a medical doctor I am used to a large vocabulary and long words, but it is the simpler spikey ones that get my attention.
Enjoyed the article!

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