Tags and Tagging

Paul Kinlan

I have been thinking recently about the virtues of tagging. Using my applications andAjax Tagger I have noticed that there are not that many tags in use. Ajax Tagger 2 will give very basic statisitcal information about each suggested tag. I really don’t like this situation and hopefully I can explain why.

Most people seem to use Tags for either
a) Bringing more people to their blog.
or
b) Provide more information and links to other related blogs.

I tend to use tags for option “b”, because I hate going to sites and having to find my own related sites that talk about similar things. However option “a” is also good.

If you look at technorati’s heat map, you will see that the top 250 tags are very broad in their scope. Books; Blogs and Blogging seem to be the most popular. Taking these tags as an example, they appear to be far too loose. Simple category names they may be; but useful they are not. Books for instance can cover millions of different blogs; I am not too sure how I am supposed to find a community based around specific subsections of books. For instance the tag “Asimov” only contains about 7 tags over the last 232 days.

Technorati’s definition of a tag is:

Think of a tag as a simple category name. People can categorize their posts, photos, and links with any tag that makes sense.

but I think it should be:
Think of a tag as a simple category name. People can categorize their posts, photos and links with any tags that make sense; from highly specific topics to very broad subject areas.
The only problem with the new definition is that it is not as simple and intuative, but I think that is half the problem.

It seems to me that only Geeks like us use tagging and thus the “tag space” is very restriced and therefore over time its value will diminish. Everyone will focus on such a small subset of tags that you will need an advanced search engine to find particular sub topics. I propose that we still use these very broad tags, because I am sure some people will find them useful, but that we also use more specific tags; sub tags if you will. So if I was blogging about the “Foundation series” by Issac Asimov, I would include “Asimov” as a tag also. Over the past few months I have been trying to increase the number of tags in tag space by including relevant tags in my posts, but making them a little more away from centre.

If creating tags is too hard, try my Ajax Tagger or use a tagging service like tagyu.com. Both of these will suggest tags to use. Mine, I feel creates better suggestions off the context of the text supplied because it uses Yahoo’s massive corpus of information and their Developer API’s.

Do you agree with me or not? Email me: paul.kinlan@gmail.com

Paul Kinlan

Trying to make the web and developers better.

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