How can I import and then tag a huge list of items?
June 13, 2008 5:28 AM   Subscribe

I have a list with hundreds of items. How can I import/tag them so that I can later view them by tag? Is there a site/software that can do this?

We gave a web-based survey to our church and got about 2500 comments (along with the standard check-box answers). I'd like to tag each comment with various things ("steve", "volume", "organ") so then I can give the relevant comments to different people.

I picture it like tagging a WordPress post and then viewing a page with a list of items for that tag, but in a much simpler manner. Any good way to do that?
posted by mickmel to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Foregoing constructing your own database from scratch, I think the best way to tag them would actually, literally be to use a blog-type system. You have "items" but you can instead think of them as "posts" on a blog. The tagging architecture is built-in, and everything is there - even the bloat is nothing to worry about considering it wouldn't likely get in your way.

All you'd need to do is get a WordPress account, type each comment in as a blog post, and give it the appropriate tags.
posted by tybeet at 7:08 AM on June 13, 2008

If you're then worried about the work involved in moving these items from whatever format you have them in now, to what I just described, and you have them in some manner of a uniform structure or layout, that can be solved if you're willing to put the time into constructing a few suitable macros.
posted by tybeet at 7:11 AM on June 13, 2008

Response by poster: I've considered WordPress, but that'll be too slow. A few extra seconds for a few thousand records will take a lot of time.

I need something much more lightweight.
posted by mickmel at 7:28 AM on June 13, 2008

Whether you put it into Wordpress or any other solution, your answer is going to depend a lot on where and how your survey stored the responses. Are they in a database now? If so, what database? Or are they appended to a text file? Or (shudder) separate emails to some account for each response?
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:50 AM on June 13, 2008

Response by poster: They're through ConstantContact. CC does a GREAT job with the surveys, the tracking, the results, etc, but they do an AWFUL job with the comments. The only decent way to get them out is to export the entire list as a CSV, which ends up being about 100 columns wide (one for each possible response), with comments littered throughout.

By cutting and pasting the comment columns into Word, I can then use "search and replace" to clean out the blank lines and end up with a pretty clean list of responses. I've considered using second "search and replace" to turn each line into MySQL INSERT query and building a DB that way, but this is probably just a one time thing -- I don't want to spend too much time building a custom solution. Heck, I've already spent too much time researching it. :)

The best I've come up with is to:
- Paste the clean list into Excel
- Label columns B-Z to be the tags I'll use
- Go through each one and put an "x" when the tag applies
- Sort the list by the various columns to see the results of that tag.

The hard part is going to be doing each one manually, but that's unavoidable. Beyond that, it seems like a reasonable solution, but I keep thinking there must be something better.
posted by mickmel at 9:37 AM on June 13, 2008

I'm not familiar at all with ConstantContact. But, if you have Excel, do you also have Access? Seems like you could import the CSV into Access and hey presto, instant database. That would give you better tools than Excel for manipulating the data and doing reports or queries against your tags.

Once you have it in Access, you could probably also do some one-off UPDATE queries to apply some tags based on the answers to certain questions, i.e., if they answered "yes" to question "X", tag with "volunteer" and so on.

Same thing applies if you want to import the CSV into MySQL, though you don't have the nifty built-in interface.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:19 PM on June 13, 2008

« Older What song did I hear?   |   Why does my car A/C only work around town but not... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.