tag, tags, tagging, delicious, flikr, system, guidelines, how-to
August 15, 2006 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Tagging on delicious or flickr: are your tags singular or plural? do you have a set of guidelines or a system for the way you tag your items? if you have a system, can you describe it? I'm looking for a way to be more consistent in how I tag items.
posted by jak68 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My (delicious) system developed over a few months of use - I tag by type of content (weblogs, images, audio, etc), and by more refining information, like how often content is updated (daily, weekly, or sporadically (I've been thinking about further subdividing into the days of the week)) or by subtype (for images: art, screen caps, photos, cartoons, movies, etc). I also have a catchall tag for "Lots of Content I haven't reviewed yet" called Procrastination.

That said, I don't think tags should really follow any general guidelines - it's whatever works for you. The great thing about delicious is that you can tag things either plurally or singularly (or both) (or even spell the tags wrong!) and people will "get it".
posted by muddgirl at 7:28 PM on August 15, 2006

Like muddgirl says, tagging is really for YOU, not for anyone else. Tagging systems do derive value from the network effects of tags, but since (in general) you will look at your own tags orders of magnitude more often than someone else will, it's just not worth worrying about.

On the singular/plural issue, I try to make plural tags be about a general class of things, and singular tags be about a specific instance of that thing. For instance, I would tag Boing Boing as "Blog" and an article about, say, the economics of blogs as "Blogs". But, if you checked those links you'd see that I do a pretty shitty job of it. Part of the problem is that delicious's auto-complete is overzealous about auto-completing to the plural version, so things I mean to tag as "Blog" often get converted to "Blogs". Oh well.

I think I picked this up from looking at other people's tags. If you really want to see different options, just troll around delicious user pages for a while and see how people do things and maybe something will stick with you.
posted by heresiarch at 8:07 PM on August 15, 2006

My feeling about tags is this: you want to tag an item so that A) you can find that individual item later in your bookmarks when you're looking for it; and B) you want to find it in the specific categories you'd want to, um, find it in.

In other words, if I were to bookmark the (NSFW, duh) website for Fuck this Book, I'd tag it "fuck," because that's the tag I'd use later if I'm looking for it, and I'd also tag it "books" (I use the plural) and "gifts" and maybe "funny", because I'd like it to come up when I look at those tags.

Hope that helps some.
posted by joshuaconner at 9:58 PM on August 15, 2006

I try to use "stem" tags--that is, singular not plural, present not past, that kind of thing. I know I'm not entirely consistent. I'm often redundant with my tagging (I may tag something "mac" and "osx").

You know, whatever works for you. That said, I do a fair amount of "tag surfing" at flickr, and I'll admit I get a little annoyed at people who batch-tag the 200 photos they took at a party with every tag that could conceivably apply to any one of them, so they spam the tag-feed with 199 pictures unrelated to that tag and 1 relevant one. Then again, that probably doesn't work for them in the long run, either.
posted by adamrice at 10:08 PM on August 15, 2006

Plurals for things that have things, blogger.com would get "blogs" while somedude.blogspot.com would get "blog."

Likewise, wiki.ehow.com/readymade/make would be "tutorials" and a specific entry would be "tutorial."

I let del.icio.us teach me how to tag my stuff, the suggested tags are really nice as once you develop a trend you can use them to reinforce the trend. Recommended tags also give an idea of how other users generally have tagged the same item. So to follow recommended tags, and to add tags at your will, will form a consistent but still unique tagging policy.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:16 PM on August 15, 2006

I'll tag things with enough information that will help me (and potentially others) find it.
Stuff on delicious tends to get tagged with - in effect - category descriptions, and as adamrice says, I'll frequently use similar redundant tags - as different people use different search criteria.

In Flickr, I'll tag up as much information as I can about an image - location, names (if applicable), main features of the image (e.g. dog, cat, sea, storm, car), and the camera and lens used.
If there are multiple objects, I'll use both single and plural (e.g. a street scene may be tagged with: person, people, crowd)
posted by Chunder at 3:01 AM on August 16, 2006

The tags I use in delicious serve as a short description of what I am bookmarking. For example, I save a lot of bicycle riding maps I make with Gmaps-Pedometer. When I save a new route I use the tags "google maps cycling route" so that it will will appear whenever I search under any of those tags. Another example, I recently saved information on my state's regulations for scooters. The tags I used were "state government scooter regulations".
posted by bwilms at 3:22 AM on August 16, 2006

My tagging system works as follows: I include personal tags (such as wednesdaynightnerdcrew) on photos I'd like to keep a bit better organized for my own self and then I'll do commonly-accepted tags, or hivemind tags for others, especially when it involved a shared experience (see Somerville, or Boston) and elements included. I can't recommend using the "quoted tag" method enough - "Davis Square" will get more relevance packed in than "davis" and "square" separately.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 4:27 AM on August 16, 2006

I save things at delish in 2 separate ways for 2 separate reasons.

One is for my personal bookmarks and the tags have developed like everyone: as a product of my own way of thinking/recall, influenced by what the bulk of people do.

I guess it goes from general to specific so: blog illustration sketch would be a good example. Easily retrievable, easily socially searchable (if you care about being a contributor the organisation of info) and describes the content correctly. I think it's stupid to have blog and blogs as tags for oneself but multiple suffixes are needed when searching delish.

I also use delish for my site and I spent a lot of idle time before posting all the entries there thinking about how to organize it most efficiently. I opted to go with a core set of tags that were not generally used by the hivemind but which were still very relevant. It was more about organizing the material such that it was eminently logical just when searching for stuff on my site, if you follow, and was not meant specifically for my 'style' of recall or to align it with the world at large.

I think this was partially successful but it taught me the most important lesson: use the extended field to write sensible descriptions to augment the tags. Not only does this make it all very obvious in scanning down a page of tags, but it makes it easier to find stuff when using the search engine (at delish anyway).
posted by peacay at 5:05 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: this is all helpful, thanks for the ideas (and pls keep 'em coming if you have more).
posted by jak68 at 9:50 AM on August 16, 2006

I wouldn't create an unnecessary layer of abstraction when referencing your mental catalog. if one day you need to classify something as "peanut" and the next day "peanuts", you can go back later and merge the two categories. I have absolutely no discipline when tagging, and I usually try to clean up my categories once a month.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 9:56 AM on August 16, 2006

As T. Coates describes, you can tag as a filing mechanism so you can find something later or as a classification system for others to find it. Contrary to other claims here, you are not necessarily tagging only for yourself.

I think tagging systems are going to have to develop natural-language features to understand that policy and policies are related and possibly identical tags, and that a search for one should automatically search the other. Pluralization in other languages is even more complex, and a good tagging system should understand major languages’ morphologies.
posted by joeclark at 2:21 PM on August 16, 2006

I think the best advice is to try to think of what you would use to find it again later, picking out the major features such as location, media, occasion, content and so on. I avoid tags that are too general, such as the aforementioned "blogs", or redundant, such as the sitename as a tag.

I mostly tag for myself, and if someone else gets something out of it, great, but that comes as an emergent property of me doing it for myself, not by design.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:10 PM on August 16, 2006

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