What it this?

All Sorts is a collection of collective nouns that may or may not have found their way into the Oxford English Dictionary. If you think that a charismatic collective is far superior to a dullard ‘bunch’ or ‘flock’ then this is the place for you.

How does it work?

Every minute or so, All Sorts searches Twitter for the hashtag #collectivenouns. It expects to find Tweets of the form:

A bunch of somethings #collectivenouns

Any Tweets it finds in this format, it attempts to parse, extracting a collective noun (e.g. ‘bunch’) and a noun (e.g. ‘somethings’).

All Sorts keeps a record of all the collective nouns proposed for a particular noun. It also keeps track of all the different nouns that might be described by a particular collective noun. This means, for example, you can see all the different suggested collective nouns for politicians. Or you could browse all the different nouns for which people think annoyance is a suitable collective noun.

You can browse all nouns, and all collectors at their respective index pages.

Attribution

Your original suggestions are always credited on All Sorts. The first person to propose a collector for a noun is attributed with having seeded that collective noun. So all your friends can see how clever you are.

The flip side of this, is that if you say something stupid, nasty or offensive, everyone can see that it was you. As always, you should be careful what you say on Twitter.

Retweets count as a vote

If you see a collective noun that you like, you can retweet it to share with all your followers. When All Sorts finds your tweet, it will recognise that the collective noun/noun pair are already in the database. Rather than creating duplicate entries, it will tally up a vote for that collective noun.

Any suggestions which garner 2 or more votes will make it onto the popular page. Here, you can see all of the most popular suggestions.

When you are browsing All Sorts, you may see a link saying LIKE. Clicking this link will redirect you to your Twitter homepage (you will have to log in, if you are not already logged in). You should see that your status message is already populated with a ReTweet of the collective noun phrase which was associated with the LIKE link. All you have to do, is hit the Update button, and your vote will be registered.

Hashtags

You can use either of the following hashtags: #collectivenouns or #allsorts. #allsorts is shorter, but #collectivenouns is more descriptive, so we encourage the use of the latter.

Rules

All Sorts is powered by a dumb machine. It needs rules. Most of these rules apply to the bit of the tweet that goes ‘an X of Y’. For brevity, this will be shortened to the phrase, in each of the following examples.

Examples

The rules are OK as a summary, but it is helpful to see real examples, and how they have been interpreted.

Model suggestions.

No surprises here. The following examples demonstrate the kind of input that All Sorts expects to receive.

Tweet Collector Noun

A boast of bloggers #allsorts

boast bloggers

The phrase should be of the form: ‘a Y of Z’.

#collectivenouns an apostrophe of fruitseller’s

apostrophe fruitseller's

The phrase can begin with ‘an’ or with ‘a’. Apostrophes are allowed. Be careful how you use them!

My new collective noun: a sky of clouds #allsorts

sky clouds

You can add some context before your suggestion.

a cling of clouds! 99% certain its not right, but it sounds correct! #allsorts

cling clouds

You can add some context after your suggestion. The punctuation mark ‘!’ terminates the ‘an X of Y’ phrase, so everything after it is ignored.

#collectivenouns A hodge podge of hedgehogs

hodge podge hedgehogs

#collectivenouns A trombone of jazz trumpeters

trombone jazz trumpeters

You can use one or more words for the collective noun (e.g. ‘hodge podge’) and for the noun (e.g. ‘jazz trumpeters’).

#collectivenouns No no no, that’s a mute-ation of jazz trumpeters

mute-ation jazz trumpeters

a bloated-regret of percy-pigs #allsorts

bloated-regret percy-pigs

You can hyphenate the collective noun (e.g. ‘mute-ation’ or ‘bloated-regret’) and/or the noun (e.g. ‘percy-pigs’).

Interpreted suggestions

The following suggestions deviate from one or another of the rules, but are interpreted by All Sorts as best as possible.

Tweet Collector Noun

An incompetence of financial advisors A flannel of politicians A mumble of lecturers A twaddle of twitter literati #allsorts

incompetence financial advisors

If you make more than one suggestion per tweet, only the first one will be considered.

A _Murder_ of Mime Artists. #collectivenouns

murder mime artists

A *BLEEP* of Chef’s #collectivenouns

bleep chef's

Don’t try to emphasize the collective noun. Underscores and asterisks will be stripped!

I prefer the term a ‘bitter’ of comedians. #collectivenouns

bitter comedians

A suspicious proliferation of ‘social media experts’ #collectivenouns

suspicious proliferation social media experts

Don’t ‘quote’ the collective noun or the noun. It’ll just get stripped!

A pustule of G.U.M. doctors #collectivenouns

pustule gum doctors

Punctuation is not permitted. Periods used to denote abbreviations are stripped.

A failwhale of tweets #allsorts

failwhale tweets

RT @mathie: A failwhale of tweets #allsorts http://all-sorts.org/of/tweets (seeing if I can game the system!)

Each Twitterer may only vote once per collective noun/noun pair. Subsequent votes are discarded.

Rejected suggestions

The following suggestions break the rules in ways that All Sorts cannot handle. Take care not to make the same mistakes!

Tweet Collector Noun

An overindulgence of #collectivenouns!

Hashtags are not permitted inside the ‘An X of Y’ phrase.

A test of http://all-sorts.org/ #allsorts

URLs are not permitted inside the ‘An X of Y’ phrase.

#collectivenouns What about a *!&@* of Censors

a lookjustfuckoffalright? of rickrolls #allsorts

Punctuation is not permitted inside the ‘An X of Y’ phrase.

A racistalarmisthomophobicbastard of Daily Mail writers #collectivenouns

#collectivenouns A firkin of innocent curse word soundalikes.

The maximimum length for the both noun and collective noun is 30 characters.

Credits

All Sorts was conceived and built by Drew Neil (aka nelstrom). It is written in Ruby, using Sinatra and DataMapper, and runs on Passenger.

Thanks to Nick Plante (aka zapnap), whose open-source Retweet provided a starting point for this project.

You should follow @collectivenouns on Twitter here.