Friday, April 28, 2006

Smarter Tagging

Thoughts on tagging...

"Well since tagging is all the rage in software these days, I guess this loosely fits under the Uncommon Sense for Software banner.

Here’s the thing. I often don’t get what all the fuss is about with this fad or that fad. I often have to go back after something is already established to figure out what people really saw in it.

With tagging, here’s what I see:
It makes categorization real easy for non-technical folks. Arguably easier than a taxonomy (file folder system). So that’s good. Especially for consumer apps like photo-sharing.

It won’t necessarily scale well once you’ve got bazillions of tags, but it’ll take people a little while to figure that out – and then it’ll stop being the "be all, end all" user interface metaphor. It works for some things, not for others. It allows objects to be categorized in more than one context (something can be both business and pleasure at the same time for example). Also good.

One of the more subtle usability attractors I think is this: In one very simple control (the single-line textbox), you can do more than one operation, without needing to find or know how to use some admin tool to create/edit/delete tags. You can select tags and create new ones all at once (just by typing them in, with spaces in between). Nifty. And there’s no need to "delete" a tag, just remove it from all objects and it’s as if that tag never existed, and it should never show up in a list of tags again.

My pet peeve with tags is that now that everyone’s doing them, I go from site to site and see things like this:

"Most popular tags: Web20, Web_20, web2_0"   continued ...   (Via Uncommon Sense for Software)

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