Why Are Taxonomies Necessary?


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Introduces basic information about what taxonomies (controlled vocabularies) are and why they are important for information finding.

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Why Are Taxonomies Necessary?

  1. 1. Why Are Taxonomies Necessary? <ul><li>By Fred Leise </li></ul><ul><li>ContextualAnalysis, LLC </li></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>Taxonomies are sets of terms (controlled vocabularies or CVs) used to tag documents or other content objects. </li></ul><ul><li>Taxonomies may also be used as browsing hierarchies or for search enhancement. </li></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  3. 3. <ul><li>Taxonomy terms are collected into groups called attributes. Each attribute (or facet) describes one property of your content. </li></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  4. 4. <ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><li>Attribute: Office Location </li></ul><ul><li>Terms: London New York City (NYC, Big Apple) Washington, DC </li></ul>What Are Taxonomies? Alternate Terms
  5. 5. <ul><li>In this example, “NYC” and Big Apple” are given as variants for “New York.” </li></ul><ul><li>Variant terms are used to expand search queries. If a user enters “New York” the search system expands to search “New York or NYC or Big Apple. </li></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  6. 6. <ul><li>Search query expansion ensures that more relevant information is found, even though it might use terms the searcher hasn’t thought of. </li></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  7. 7. <ul><li>Other typical attributes include: </li></ul><ul><li>Author </li></ul><ul><li>Creation Date </li></ul><ul><li>Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Version Number </li></ul><ul><li>Subject </li></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  8. 8. <ul><li>There is an international standard for metadata, the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, consisting of 15 attributes. </li></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  9. 9. <ul><li>Good metadata schemas (collections of attributes) will adhere as closely as possible to the Dublin Core standard. More information is available at: www.dublincore.org </li></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  10. 10. <ul><li>Well designed taxonomies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1. Enable users to find relevant information quickly and efficiently (improved retrieval) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Lead users to additional relevant information, providing upselling and cross-selling opportunities </li></ul></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  11. 11. <ul><li>Well designed taxonomies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3. Assists authors in consistently tagging content </li></ul></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  12. 12. <ul><li>Proper use of taxonomies results in: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less time wasted searching for information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fewer failed searches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fewer abandoned interactions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased income </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduced customer assistance costs </li></ul></ul>What Are Taxonomies?
  13. 13. <ul><li>English is rich in words that mean the same or nearly the same thing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>feline/cat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>car/automobile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>travel/journey/excursion/trip </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>jeans/denims/Levi's/501s </li></ul></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  14. 14. <ul><li>Result: scattering of information. No matter what term you use in a free-text search, you get only part of the relevant information. </li></ul><ul><li>The rest is not retrieved because it uses different terms to describe the same concept. </li></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  15. 15. <ul><li>Consider the example of mobile devices. </li></ul><ul><li>There are many ways that users can refer to them: </li></ul><ul><li>Personal digital assistants </li></ul><ul><li>Handheld computers </li></ul><ul><li>Blackberries </li></ul><ul><li>PDAs </li></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  16. 16. <ul><li>If users don’t know the term you use to label the information they are looking for, they waste time browsing or give up their search completely. </li></ul><ul><li>They are victims of a communication chasm. </li></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  17. 17. <ul><li>You use the term “cat.” I use “feline.” If we each search a recipe database that uses both terms with equal frequency, we will get back only half the appropriate recipes, a recall ratio of 50% </li></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  18. 18. <ul><li>Solution: Add a controlled vocabulary to the search system that gives “feline” and “cat” as equivalent terms. </li></ul><ul><li>Search queries will be expanded appropriately. </li></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  19. 19. <ul><li>English is rich in words that have more than one disparate meaning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pitch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To throw a baseball </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A tar-like substance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A salesman’s monologue </li></ul></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  20. 20. <ul><ul><li>Bank </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where you store money </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The side of a river </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To carom a cue ball off a pool table rail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To prepare a fire for the night </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To maneuver a plane for a turn </li></ul></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  21. 21. <ul><li>Result: Lots of false drops (irrelevant information), resulting in poor precision. </li></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  22. 22. <ul><li>Solution: use a CV that includes scope notes (definitions) or that uses facets. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Think about searching for the term “Rembrandt.” You might get the following results. </li></ul>Why Are Taxonomies Important?
  23. 23. Why Are Taxonomies Important? Rembrandt Go Search The painter Rembrandt was one of the greatest of all the Dutch realists…. If you want to whiten and brighten your teeth, there is no better brand than Rembrandt.
  24. 24. Why Are Taxonomies Important? <ul><li>You probably are interested in only one of these “Rembrandts.” So half of your search results are irrelevant. Now consider what happens if you were able to specify the type of object you are looking for, either an artist or a toothpaste brand. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Why Are Taxonomies Important? The painter Rembrandt was one of the greatest of all the Dutch realists…. If you want to whiten and brighten your teeth, there is no better brand than Rembrandt. Artist Brand Name Rembrandt Rembrandt
  26. 26. Why Are Taxonomies Important? <ul><li>You get only results relevant to what you are interested in. Here, having search boxes identified by attribute (faceted searching) lets you hone in quickly on the particular information you want. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Why Are Taxonomies Important? <ul><li>You could also use one search and let users filter or narrow results after their search. </li></ul>
  28. 29. <ul><li>Roles for Taxonomies </li></ul><ul><li>Tagging documents for a content management system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides administrative metadata to control authoring and publishing processes </li></ul></ul>How are Taxonomies Used?
  29. 30. <ul><li>Roles for Taxonomies </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative metadata: example </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Document # Author </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Department Creation date </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Publication date Expiration date </li></ul></ul></ul>How are Taxonomies Used?
  30. 31. <ul><li>Roles for Taxonomies </li></ul><ul><li>Tagging document contents for a content management system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides metadata to support search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensures inter-indexer consistency </li></ul></ul>How are Taxonomies Used?
  31. 32. <ul><li>Roles for Taxonomies </li></ul><ul><li>Tagging document contents for a content management system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Controls subject scattering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increases search results relevance: tags “aboutness” not just mentions of a word </li></ul></ul>How are Taxonomies Used?
  32. 33. <ul><li>Roles for Taxonomies </li></ul><ul><li>Search engine component </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Translates user’s terms into those used to tag items (increases precision and recall) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offers options for expanding or reducing scope of search using broader or narrower terms </li></ul></ul>How are Taxonomies Used?
  33. 34. <ul><li>Roles for Taxonomies </li></ul><ul><li>Search engine component </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Differentiates between multiple meanings of terms </li></ul></ul>How are Taxonomies Used?
  34. 35. Taxonomy Use: Search Results rei.com
  35. 36. <ul><li>Roles for Taxonomies </li></ul><ul><li>Operating as a browsing hierarchy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizes content using taxonomy terms as category labels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Represents taxonomy hierarchy by browsing levels </li></ul></ul>How are Taxonomies Used?
  36. 37. rei.com Level 1 Level 4 Level 3 Level 2
  37. 38. <ul><li>Synonym Ring </li></ul><ul><li>Identifies words with equivalent meanings (in a given context) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>rock = stone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CD-ROM = CD = disk </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>money = dough = bucks = greenbacks = legal tender </li></ul></ul>Types of Taxonomies
  38. 39. <ul><li>Synonym Ring </li></ul><ul><li>When one of the words in a synonym ring is searched for, the search engine expands the search and returns items containing any of the words in the ring. </li></ul>Types of Taxonomies
  39. 40. <ul><li>Authority File </li></ul><ul><li>Has all the features of a synonym ring, plus the identification of preferred terms (approved terms/descriptors/keywords) for tagging content. </li></ul>Types of Taxonomies
  40. 41. <ul><li>Taxonomy </li></ul><ul><li>Also called hierarchy or classification. </li></ul><ul><li>All features of authority files, plus the broader term (BT) and narrower term (NT) relationships. </li></ul>Types of Taxonomies
  41. 42. <ul><li>Taxonomy </li></ul><ul><li>All terms must be part of a hierarchical relationship (no orphan terms). </li></ul><ul><li>Taxonomies may be presented in hierarchical or alphabetical format. </li></ul>Types of Taxonomies
  42. 43. <ul><li>total compensation . compensation . . base salary (salary) . . deferred payments (deferred compensation) . . variable pay . benefits . . 401(k) plan . . health benefits . . . dental plan . . . disability insurance </li></ul>Types of Taxonomies: Taxonomy Example
  43. 44. <ul><li>Thesaurus </li></ul><ul><li>Plural form: thesauri </li></ul><ul><li>All the features of taxonomies, plus the associative relationship of related terms (RT) </li></ul>Types of Taxonomies
  44. 45. Types of Taxonomies: Thesaurus Example, Alphabetical <ul><li>Building Permits BT Permits </li></ul><ul><li>Business Licenses BT Licenses </li></ul><ul><li>Business Taxes BT Taxes </li></ul><ul><li>Fees RT Taxes </li></ul><ul><li>Licenses NT Business Licenses RT Permits </li></ul><ul><li>Operating Permits BT Permits </li></ul><ul><li>Permits NT Building Permits; Operating Permits RT Licenses </li></ul><ul><li>Taxes NT Business Taxes RT Fees </li></ul>
  45. 46. Types of Taxonomies: Thesaurus Example, Hierarchical   Business Taxes . . Fees   Taxes .   Operating Permits . .   Building Permits . . Licenses   Permits .   Business Licenses . . Permits   Licenses . Taxes   Fees .     Licenses, Permits & Taxes Related Terms Vocabulary Terms
  46. 47. <ul><li>Synonym Ring </li></ul><ul><li>+ preferred terms </li></ul><ul><li>= Authority File </li></ul><ul><li>+ broader/narrower terms </li></ul><ul><li>= Taxonomy </li></ul><ul><li>+ related terms </li></ul><ul><li>= Thesaurus </li></ul>Types of Taxonomies—Summary
  47. 48. <ul><li>Facets are fundamental categories by which an object or concept may be described </li></ul><ul><li>Example: some facets describing a toy ball: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>size, weight, shape, color, texture, material </li></ul></ul>Taxonomies and Facets
  48. 49. <ul><li>Uses of Facets: Browsing Hierarchies </li></ul><ul><li>Facets allow users to follow the path best matching the way they think (their mental model). </li></ul>Taxonomies and Facets
  49. 50. <ul><li>Uses of Facets: Browsing Hierarchies </li></ul><ul><li>Example: epicurious.com > recipes > browse </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Main ingredient Cuisine Preparation method Season/occasion Course/dish </li></ul></ul>Taxonomies and Facets
  50. 51. Taxonomies and Facets epicurious.com
  51. 52. <ul><li>Uses of Facets: Fielded Search </li></ul><ul><li>Allows for greater specificity, thus increasing search precision. </li></ul><ul><li>But this is usually more complicated for users than simple searching, so it is often introduced as option on results page. </li></ul>Taxonomies and Facets
  52. 53. alibris.com Advanced Search
  53. 54. epicurious.com Advanced Search
  54. 55. <ul><li>Requirements for Browsing/Search Facets </li></ul><ul><li>Development of metadata schema </li></ul><ul><li>Development of appropriate controlled vocabularies </li></ul><ul><li>Proper content tagging </li></ul>Taxonomies and Facets
  55. 56. <ul><li>Aitchison, Jean. Thesaurus Construction and Use: A Practical Manual. 4th ed. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers </li></ul>Resources
  56. 57. Resources <ul><li>International standard for metadata: Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (ISO Standard 15836-2003) </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.niso.org/international/SC4/n515.pdf </li></ul>
  57. 58. <ul><li>National Information Standards Organization. ANSI/NISO Z39.19:1993. Guidelines for the Construction, Format and Management of Monolingual Thesauri. Bethesda, MD: NISO Press, 1994 </li></ul><ul><li>Rosenfeld, Lou, and Peter Morville. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Websites. 3d ed. O’Reilly Publishers, 2006. </li></ul>Resources
  58. 59. <ul><li>Sinha, Rashmi. Beyond Cardsorting: Free-listing Methods to Explore User Categorizations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Available at: http://www. boxesandarrows.com/archives/ beyond_cardsorting_freelisting_ methods_to_explore_user_categorizations.php </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Steckel, Mike, Karl Fast and Fred Leise. Creating a Controlled Vocabulary. 2002 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Available at: http://www.boxesandarrows.com/archives/ creating_a_controlled_vocabulary.php </li></ul></ul>Resources
  59. 60. Contact Information <ul><li>Fred Leise </li></ul><ul><li>www.contextualanalysis.com </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>@ChicagoIndexer </li></ul>
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