free html hit counter Will Tagging Work? | John Battelle's Search Blog

Will Tagging Work?

By - December 04, 2005

A tagging workshop is slated for the upcoming WWW conference, Gary notes. I keep wondering if this tagging thing is going to go big. For things like photos and videos, I can see it. But I just can’t see my mom tagging much else. Am I wrong? I think implicit tagging – ie using our clickstream and other actions online, will be big…

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18 thoughts on “Will Tagging Work?

  1. Greg Linden says:

    At least for documents and other things that already have metadata, I think you’re in good company in questioning the value of tags.

    Danny Sullivan said, “All the interest (dare I say hype) is largely ignoring the fact that we’ve had tagging on the web for going on 10 years, and the experience on the search side is that it can’t be trusted.”

    http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050322-163753

    John Dvorak said, “Nobody outside the groupthink community really cares about any of this” and that “the ‘folksonomy’ notion … is doomed to failure” because it will succumb to “vandalism and spam.”

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1819101,00.asp

    And Stephen Green said, “[Tagging is] not really a new way of indexing documents, it’s actually an old way that didn’t work very well.”

    http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/searchguy/20050513#tags_keywords_and_inconsistency

  2. Rick Burnes says:

    Maybe not your mother, but what about your kids? If they can figure out MySpace, they can probably figure out tagging.

  3. I don’t think tagging will ever be a really big thing. It works for the tech savy crowd but the rest won’t bother to take the extra time to tag something. It’s not a matter of figuring it out, it’s matter of laziness and not getting anything in return.

  4. Can’t intelligently judge the full potential of many new tech ideas by their embryonic stages – like everything else these ideas will expand and evolve amd combine.

    Mutimedia – MP3, vidoes, Photos etc, can be tagged to add some order to the Internet Chaos.

    Ironically, Favorites are the sincerest form of Link Popularity

    Raw Sugar is a “democratic” directory – unlike the Yahoo’s or Dmoz’s – this allows people to get ideas from other people – who are saving something because they Like It and plan on using it again.

    hmmmmm….This technology will also probably be a future Labs release for Google and Yahoo and MSN –
    it makes perfect since – analyzing collections of Global FAVORITES – to help in General ALGOs and their Personalization SERPs.

  5. Chris Marino says:

    No, I don’t think you are wrong at all

    CM

  6. Steve Krause says:

    John, I don’t get the relationship you’re making between (explicit) tagging and implicit tagging. Are they supposed to be alternatives?

    Explicit tagging a la Flickr is primarily about profiling content with keywords, whereas using clickstreams is primarily about profiling people.

    For content types that are difficult to classify automatically, like images, clickstreams are not useful until there is meaningful metadata associated with clicks on those images–which brings us back to the need for content profiling by tagging or similar means.

  7. Epistemographer offers this comparision on implicit vs explicit tagging:

    # Implicit tagging vs. explicit tagging (Amazon purchase vs. flickr tag, for example)

    Solipsism, yay!

  8. BillyG says:

    take it from someone (http://del.icio.us/BillyG) that has almost 900 tags, I depend on my tags everyday and would be lost without them (yes, I run a script everynight to backup my del.icio.us tags) but this not only keeps the storage off my box, but more importantly, when I sam at a clients location and/or surfing ANYWHERE in the world, I can immediately get to all things that interest me (which is the other use, one glance, I know who you are and what you are into, not like Google of course, see AttentionTrust.org)

  9. Greg Linden says:

    At least for documents and other things that already have metadata, I think you’re in good company in questioning the value of tags.

    Danny Sullivan said, “All the interest (dare I say hype) is largely ignoring the fact that we’ve had tagging on the web for going on 10 years, and the experience on the search side is that it can’t be trusted.”

    http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050322-163753

    John Dvorak said, “Nobody outside the groupthink community really cares about any of this” and that “the ‘folksonomy’ notion … is doomed to failure” because it will succumb to “vandalism and spam.”

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1819101,00.asp

    And Stephen Green said, “[Tagging is] not really a new way of indexing documents, it’s actually an old way that didn’t work very well.”

    http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/searchguy/20050513#tags_keywords_and_inconsistency

  10. Andi says:

    Tags are already a part of language, they’re called adjectives. Does language work?

    Generic meta-data is built into language itself, making tags work online is simply a matter of developing a more universally acceptable mode through usage over time.

    The Web 2.0 type of tags and clouds are a first step in that direction. It may take years and these will naturally evolve in small steps through increased usage.

  11. Jeff Dalton says:

    Will tagging be the next link text? There are several different models out there. Will it be an explicit model like RawSugar or a more implicit model like Rollyo?

    What user incentives can we provide to get users to tag information?

    You can read more of my thoughts on my blog article reponding to this post…

  12. Jeff Dalton says:

    Sorry, the url for my response to this article was wrong. The correct link.

  13. Otis says:

    Will tagging be big? I’d say it is big, or at least at a steep curve to getting there.

    Cameron: nothing in return? You must not be a user of Flickr, Simpy, or Technorati then. I get plenty in return from my tagged links over at Simpy, and tag-based discovery of Flickr photos exposed me to some beautiful photography!

    Rick: mom vs. kids – exactly!

  14. Todd Henley says:

    I don’t understand all the tagging hype; it seems primitive

  15. Scott Hotes says:

    I’m going to have to agree with John here. For anything other than photos and video, tagging is a non-starter. Companies like RawSugar are going to have to look a little harder to create differentiated search. I also can’t agree with putting “patented technology” language at the top of the page, but that’s another matter.

    This type of clustering by content is something computers are good at (e.g. Vivisimo), might as well let them do it!

  16. Todd Bredy says:

    here good informations too. at SUNĀ“s Blog can you read it.

  17. max khesin says:

    Totally backing up BillyG’s comment about tagging, particularly del.icio.us. As you (John) mention in your book 37% of web traffic is returning to previous web sites (quoting from memory). To return you need to remember where to go. Tag-based bookmarking has worked fantastically for me. True, I am somewhere in the first row of beta-geeks, but won’t everyone have to be a geek eventually? After all, everybody drives a car!

  18. Chris Marino says:

    John, I’ve thought more about this and I’m convinced that if tagging does take off it might be a more insidious form of the Database of Intentions. I think the problems with Identity and Group Bias (which I go into more detail here) might hobble the explicit forms of tagging from ever getting a complete view of what’s available on the net.