Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The tags on this post are intentionally vague.

Just a quick meta-post about post tagging. I really like the idea of tagging posts, since it's a great way to revisit particular topics easily, and gives an easy categorisation system for new readers to orient themselves with. However, it's difficult sometimes to know how to structure tag clouds, particularly if there's a group of people contributing to them.

Firstly, there's the problem of how many tags to use. In a large database of information, the more tags the better, since individual pieces of information will be harder to find. With smaller projects, however, it can become overwhelming if too many tags are used. With a tag list containing lots of labels used only once, it's difficult to pick out particular themes or categories of interest, and difficult to pick out those articles that you've read already.
Secondly there's the issue of whether to tag the general themes identified in the post, or tag things that make the post unique. This point comes down to how people use the tags for searching through posts. For example, if you tag a story in which you happen to mention that someone was wearing a hat with the tag 'hat', then anyone looking for posts about hats is going to be disappointed when they find that most of the posts that come up have nothing to do with hats, and only briefly mention them.

In general, it's probably a good idea to tag a post with the themes it deals with (and a description of the content - videos, links, pictures, etc.), and avoid adding new tags unless they're ones that are reasonably likely to come up again in the future.

Having said that, I have no idea how you guys use or want to use the tags. Do you ever use them? Did you know they were there? Do you completely disagree with the arguments above?

I'm certainly not going to go in and delete Hannah's 'bittersweetness' tag (for all I know, she's overflowing with half-written posts on bittersweetness), but my gut feeling is that it's not a necessarily useful tag for identifying the contents of the post in question. Let me know what you all think, though.

There are a couple of points about specific tags too - the 'have-your-say' tag was one I was only using to tag posts that mentioned or reacted to the BBC's "Have your say" service, so I'll probably remove it from the post that Andy tagged with it. The 'personal' tag was intended to flag up anything containing personal experiences or opinions, but that might be too wide a scope to be useful, so let me know if you think this should be changed.

If anyone has any ideas for a more structured categorisation, put it out there, and we'll see what we can do - it's all a bit haphazard at the moment, but hopefully it'll all work a bit more smoothly as time goes on.

1 comment:

immedia reaction said...

Meh. I dislike tags and generally don't use them. I use post categories in my other blog... but that's much more themed overall.

I never know what to put in tags and only put them in because it seemed to be what everyone else was doing and I wanted to be one of the cool kids.

And just for that, I'm going to write a crap load of posts about bittersweetness just for you, you great big fuzzy ball of patronising wanker :P