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The Net Takeaway: Tag Clouds display problems with tags...


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Tag Clouds display problems with tags... · 11/07/2007 01:41 PM, MetaBlog

Tell me, does this make tagging any clearer?

Tag Clouds Gallery: Examples And Good Practices

To use one quote, which is completely correct but overlooked by most tagging fans, “Your Tags Are Not My Tags”.

You see, if we allowed the tag collection to truly evolve into a functionally useful offering for knowledge discovery, then we would have a collection of “shared” language terms which allow linking, and of course the individual esoterica allowing one to snarkily comment on an aspect of the content without really adding much value to the collective.

Instead, people tend to focus on the latter. They customize their tags, avoiding using words that others may like, as they are not “individual” enough. That’s great for you. It stinks for the collective. It creates a myriad of walled gardens, the very things I think tagging should be working to eliminate.

Click here if you are interested in my other rants against tagging (some of the most popular links on this blog).

I know, tagging is no longer supposed to do everything and the kitchen sink, thank goodness, but I also think people continue to assume that unstructured tagging, by itself, adds value. It’s part of the story, but without some consistency, its just a mess in most cases. I look forward to us continuing to clean up that mess.

* * *


  1. Can you point us to your proposed alternatives to tagging?

    Taylor Schreiner    Nov 14, 12:14 PM    #

  2. Thanks for asking. To be fair, I don’t dislike everything about tagging, only the completely unguided way its used. My rants point out that, for example, providing recommended or guided terms gives immediate discoverability and a shared foundation. Using “any terms you want” adds color but obscures clarity. Therefore, the solutions I propose involve adding some minimal structure to the tagging world. Any where you can tag, provide 2 boxes: Guided terms (terms are promoted to this when they are used frequently enough to break a threshold, but not so frequently that they do not discriminate; each site or tagging provider can have its own dictionary) and Open terms (atyw, any term you want).

    This process provides all the benefits of open tagging (folks can ignore the suggested terms all they want) with the utility of linking their work to the work of others, instead of just picking random terms and creating more walled gardens.
    Michael Wexler    Nov 14, 12:39 PM    #

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