Folksonomies: Tidying up Tags? Marieke Guy and Emma Tonkin D-Lib Magazine, January 2006 http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january06/guy/01guy.html Max Miller LIS 4010 10/18/2011
What is a folksonomy? “ A folksonomy is a type of distributed classification system. It is usually created by a group of individuals, typically the resource users. Users add tags to online items, such as images, videos, bookmarks and text. These tags are then shared and sometimes refined.”
What is a folksonomy? They are not a replacement for formal categorization systems -This is feature, not a flaw There are risks inherent in “tidying up” tags.
What are tags? <ul><li>Basically, freely chosen keywords
Little is known about user behavior when selecting tags </li><ul><li>Important factor to take into consideration when making tags more searchable </li></ul></ul>
Tag distribution <ul><li>Adam Mathes: tag distribution follows a “power law” scenario </li><ul><li>A few tags used by many, many tags used by a few, and huge number used only by a couple of users </li></ul></ul>
Author study of tag distribution <ul>Random sampling of Flickr and Delicious tags </ul>
Findings <ul><li>Single-use tags do not dominate folksonomy system (make up 10-15% overall)
Evidence of convergence of tags over time </li><ul><li>Suggest we can develop vocabularies in folksonomies over time </li></ul></ul>
How? <ul><li>Given evidence of convergence in tagging vocabulary, how do we foster this? </li><ul><li>Educating users to add “better” tags
Improving systems to allow “better” tags to be added </li></ul></ul>
Educating users <ul><li>Checklist of considerations for tags
Introduce structure within tags – get rid of single word tags
Tag bundles: “tagging” tags to incorporate into formal systems? </li></ul>
Smart systems <ul>At point tags are added <ul><li>Error checking (spelling, etc)
Tag suggestions </li><ul><li>Improvement in how system searches existing resources to allow synonym suggestions </li></ul><li>Ways of discussing tags – tag ranking </li></ul></ul>
Putting it all together <ul><li>Tag improvement is an engaging idea, but one limitation </li><ul><li>Users who supply tags are geographically and culturally diverse
Strength of folksonomic approach is often described as its openness – everyone can tag according to their view </li></ul></ul>
Putting it all together Tagging gets better with scale. With a multiplicity of points of view the question isn't "Is everyone tagging any given link 'correctly'", but rather "Is anyone tagging it the way I do?" As long as at least one other person tags something the way you would, you'll find it – using a thesaurus to force everyone's tags into tighter synchrony would actually worsen the noise you'll get with your signal. If there is no shelf, then even imagining that there is one right way to organise things is an error -Clay Shirky
Should we try to “tidy up” tags? <ul><li>“The strengths and weaknesses of folksonomies within classification systems are emergent from the nature of speech within context.” </li><ul><li>Use of dialectical vocabulary is often at odds with search engines, though it makes sense in context </li></ul></ul>
Conclusions <ul><li>Possibly the real problem with folksonomies is that they attempt to serve two masters: the personal collection and the collective collection </li><ul><li>Is it possible to serve both?
Suggest a mixed approach to tagging: instead of discouraging single-use tags, why not complement with agreed on keywords? </li></ul></ul>
More questions <ul><li>Is it certain training users to use a narrow set of tags is beneficial, if even possible?
It's possible future methods of mining metadata will differ from today </li><ul><li>Single-use tags may have a better use based on different context. </li></ul></ul>
Answer for now “The answer is to remain open minded and look at solutions that retain as much as possible of the metadata submitted, bearing in mind that metadata can be mined in all sorts of ways.”
Discussion Questions <ul><li>Based on your experiences using social tagging systems (both as creator and navigator), do you agree with the “folksonomic flaw” idea? What stakeholder do you feel finds that an accurate description?
Do you agree with the conclusion that we should retain as much of the metadata submitted as possible, even if it's not useful now, and there's no guarantee it will be in the future? </li></ul>