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The Net Takeaway: Tag-Hater at Yahoo, home of tagging?

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Tag-Hater at Yahoo, home of tagging? · 04/26/2006 01:38 PM, MetaBlog

Some folks have sent nice and not so nice notes wondering what I am doing at Yahoo if I don’t like tagging. After all, Yahoo is home to del.ico.us, the site that made tagging all the rage (now I expect a flood of notes explaining how tagging existed way before, flat categories existed since 1 bc, user generated keywords have been part of stone tablets, etc…).

They usually point to this collection of posts: I Hate Tags and I still hate tagging… and I continue to despise tagging… and In Conference… and even Yahoo buys del.ico.us, tags win? where I summarize all the myriad of problems with tagging.

Basically, I think tags are not the panacea that so many think they are. I am not alone in this; lots of smart folks have pointed out the pains of tagging (or, to be fair, our implementations of them) including the renowned Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch in posts like Tagging Not Likely The Killer Solution For Search and Yahoo My Web Tagging & Why (So Far) It Sucks and even Another Poke At Tags As Search Savior

So, what am I doing here, if I don’t love tags? Well, fixing the problem, of course. I’m killing tagging altogether.

Just kidding. No, my goal here, among many others, is to help show how tagging fits into everything. It’s ok to be a zealot and believe that tagging will replace search and navigation and everything else… but its an incorrect belief (c.f. Voltaire and others, http://www.classroomtools.com/voltaire.htm).

Tagging is one of many ways to access and discover information. It has many problems currently… but it also solves many problems, so the goal should be to use it for what it’s best for. My posts above go into extreme detail about how I feel, but the big takeaway is that tagging is one of many, many clever things that Yahoo folks (and others) are doing to make access to information easier and more efficient. Don’t get stuck on any one method or you will be missing out.

Even I (rarely) find myself turning to tags to get a quick feel for a topic area, so I can’t say these days that I “hate” tags as much as I used to.

Of course, the overzealous buzz died out as people realized that our current implementations do not scale, so we are meeting in the middle.

Look for aspects of tagging to show up in all sorts of unexpected places in Yahoo, but also other ways of getting to info and related info, some graphically visual, other relying on nuances of textual metadata. No one will win, but together, they will make search a much more useful tool than it ever was before.

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