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The Need For A Tagging Standard 200

John Carmichael writes "Tags are everywhere now. Not just blogs, but famous news sites, corporate press bulletins, forums, and even Slashdot. That's why it's such a shame that they're rendered almost entirely useless by the lack of a tagging standard with which tags from various sites and tag aggregators like Technorati and can compare and relate tags to one another. Depending on where you go and who you ask, tags are implemented differently, and even defined in their own unique way. Even more importantly, tags were meant to be universal and compatible: a medium of sharing and conveying info across the blogosphere — the very embodiment of a semantic web. Unfortunately, they're not. Far from it, tags create more discord and confusion than they do minimize it. I have to say, it would be nice to just learn one way of tagging content and using it everywhere.""
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The Need For A Tagging Standard

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  • Don't agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:17AM (#17612984)
    Isn't the power of tags that you can tag stuff however you want? To me a standard for tagging would be a negative thing.

    I don't thing the problem is a standard for tagging, the problem is having a standard for sharing tags between applications. But that's another problem and it doesn't need to be solved to implement tagging itself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dsginter ( 104154 )
      Some ideas for tag standards:

      <cow boyneal>
    • Re:Don't agree (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:40AM (#17613236)
      Er, guys?

      Tags are keywords.

      There's a keyword line up in the header that isn't being used for much these days.

      If you want to tag your document in a machine-readable way, put the tags in the keyword field. Problem solved.
    • Re:Don't agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lousehr ( 584682 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:42AM (#17613276)
      Your analysis of "the problem" is exactly the point of TFA. The stated concern is not that the content of the tags has no standard, but that the format of the tags has no standard. If a single tag contains multiple words, should the words be separated by spaces or underscores, or should we use StudlyCaps?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by laffer1 ( 701823 )
        Case is also an issue. Some sites only allow lowercase tags while others don't care about case.

        This is similar to the problem blogging sites have with cross site scripting. Try to tell a blogger you won't take HTML or bbcode posts (depending on generation of the blogger). Regardless of what you do, there's going to be sites that don't follow the rules and there will also be ways to screw it up for everybody.

        There isn't a standard for many things on the internet which causes validation to be near impossib
      • Re:Don't agree (Score:5, Insightful)

        by radtea ( 464814 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:28PM (#17614744)
        The stated concern is not that the content of the tags has no standard, but that the format of the tags has no standard.

        The medium, as Marshall Maclluhan said, is the message. As soon as you standardize the format of the tags you will restrict the kind of information people can convey with them. That may be an acceptable limitation to you, but not to others, and they will find workarounds that effectively break the standard.

        For example, if tags were standardized on underscores to separate words you would have to forbid spaces and caps to enforce that standard. And then we would have no way of distinguishing between Polish and polish, which would be bad if you were looking for things to do with Eastern European culture or furniture care products. People would then start doing things like expressing capitalization by some other syntactical hack which would be inconsistently applied and a greater mess would ensue.

        Alternatively, tags could be represented as more complex markup:
        <word order="1">really</word>
        <word order="2">stupid</word>

        But because words and concepts have no general one-to-one correspondence (many words do not convey a unique concept or a concept at all, and many concepts cannot be conveyed in one word) this would be inadequate, and in any case even if the content model of the "word" tag forbade spaces, caps and underscores, people would still create tags that looked like:


        The basic idea of "semantic markup" is wrong. From the summary:

        the very embodiment of a semantic web. Unfortunately, they're not. Far from it, tags create more discord and confusion than they do minimize it. I have to say, it would be nice to just learn one way of tagging content and using it everywhere.

        Actually, tags as they stand are the very embodiment of the semantic web. The only function of the semantic web is to create confusion and discord, because confusion and discord is the essence of the human epistemological condition. And the call for "one way of doing X" has a nice religious ring to it, history shows that attempts to standardize things relating to human thought are very much misguided.
      • If a single tag contains multiple words, should the words be separated by spaces or underscores, or should we use StudlyCaps?
        If tags are to be read by people they should be written and separated the way people always separate words and items. Space between words, comma between tags. Why mess things up with weird and unintuitive arrangements?


        privacy, Big Brother, government control

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by deesine ( 722173 )
          Why mess things up with weird and unintuitive arrangements?

          Why are trying to take away my job?

      • Maybe I'm missing the point to this, but shouldn't these variable formats all be parsed and handled by the software in the first place? How hard is it for a computer to be able to convert between, and simultaneously understand, the use of spaces, underscores, dashes, quotes, StudlyCaps, etc? Seems to me that is the right way of handling this, because you surely can't expect all implimentations and all users to know and follow whatever standard may possibly eventually arise.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I agree with you, and would add:

      1. If you establish a "tagging standard", you practically guarantee nobody's going to follow it. What's in it for them?
      2. What normal person care about tags anyway? If we want more info on a topic, we use Google.
      3. The blogosphere is for losers anyway. Most of the time, they just sit around blogging about the blogosphere. Case in point: TFA. This garbage dump of anti-content can remain disorganized, for all I care.
    • by MoogMan ( 442253 )
      No, the problem with tagging, is that everyone else may have a different interpretation of what the metadata means. The solution to this? Why, tag tagging of course.
    • I agree 100%. Expecting the +1,000,000,000 users of the Internet to follow some sort of tagging convention is a pipe dream at best. I'd settle for proper punctuation in forums.

      If any "standard" is proposed, it should be a mild, behind-the-scenes change. Perhaps a META TAGS header, i.e. rss/application or META KEYWORDS. And only to make it easier for scrapers and aggregators (and of course, our beloved Google).

      If anything, we need to be focusing on "concept" mining. Synonyms, slang and syntax must all
  • Automatic tagging (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drcoppersmith ( 1048722 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:19AM (#17613002) Homepage Journal
    I'm inclined to disagree that 'tags' are the answer here. I wrote my masters thesis on a method automatically generating semantic webs from plaintext. It's a huge problem with about a dozen different stages, but I had backing in all of my research from the psycholinguistics and computer-science field.

    Herein lies the rub: You're never going to get everyone to agree on a set of appropriate tags. Even if you do, you'll never have them uniformly applied (well I find that humorous but you have it tagged as inappropriate).

    There are other solutions here, such as automatic semantic generation. Hey, I never said it was an easy solution, but it's one that I'm certain can be accomplished. Flame away ;-)
    • Re:Automatic tagging (Score:5, Informative)

      by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:28AM (#17613106)
      I wrote my masters thesis on a method automatically generating semantic webs from plaintext.

      In the end, this could be said to be one of the central problems in AI. Basically, this is dimensionality reduction. People have been trying to do this manually for a long time. The Encyclopaedia Britannica's Propaedica is an example of a tentative semantic web for all human knowledge, but it's so inefficient that it's of very little use by a human, not to mention by automatic mechanisms.

      You're never going to get everyone to agree on a set of appropriate tags ... There are other solutions here, such as automatic semantic generation

      I believe it could be done if it were an automatically generated tag set. If it could be proven mathematically optimal in a certain context, it would be hard for anyone to disagree.

      • Re:Automatic tagging (Score:4, Interesting)

        by drcoppersmith ( 1048722 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:58AM (#17613476) Homepage Journal
        There are a lot of instances of manual tagging, and I agree with you that they're just too cumbersome (as does almost an entire field of psycholinguists [if you think you can get all of them to agree on anything you're sorely mistaken. They'll disagree just because they can]).

        The automatically generated tags are exactly what I was talking about. I didn't get terribly explicit with my ideas, but you seem to be going in the same direction I was. Getting the software to both tag incoming documents and categorize the semantic webs generated by each is the key to some 'universal' tagging sytem. This way we have maximally efficient tags along with a standardized definition for each and (perhaps most importantly) an automatic way of tagging all the documents to be processed. No room for the "13 year old cheerleader tags" as someone so eloquently put before.

        We still have the problem of naming the 'generic' tag categories generated by the software... The solution for that one is a lot hazier, though important. I don't think anyone will go looking for 'category 12233242' to find 'academic humor'.
      • " I believe it could be done if it were an automatically generated tag would be hard for anyone to disagree."

        Gotta luv those ifs - With English due to be a minority language before ye' know it, and since I already know Chinese/Japanese/Korean, let's just jump right ahead and use strokes. What? You don't have a clue? But what about the math-proven, optimally certain, shit-in-my-pants if it ain't true proposal ya'll just laid out...? Lead by example, ok?
    • You're never going to get everyone to agree on a set of appropriate tags.

      Then how come everyone on here has agreed on a handful of standard tags:




    • Re:Automatic tagging (Score:4, Interesting)

      by remmelt ( 837671 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:36AM (#17613184) Homepage
      Tags are probably very community based, so they would only make sense within that community. (!itsatrap wouldn't work so well on That said, why make tags which are meaningless to other communities or have vastly different meanings to other people available as a sorting or searching option? Sure, you could make some pretty mean stats proving any point you'd like (bad grammar in tags up 14.8% from last year! tag "yes" used in 87% of all blogs, world population feeling positive!) but I don't see the point.

      Also, anyone trying to make a serious argument containing the word "blogosphere" should really try and get out more. Come on people, it's not world hunger we're solving here. Viz: []
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I agree with your take on tags being community based. I think there's more use for this out there, such as categorizing communities, looking at the underlying semantics of a website, determining the focus of a company, or summarizing the entirety of a body of research (and more interestingly, categorizig what is part of and what is not part of that body of research).

        This is just a problem I've worked on for a few years and have always had a small fascination with, I'm glad to share it (both in the mundane
    • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:38AM (#17613216)
      The article is mostly talking about standardizing the envelope, not the message, which is to say, how do you share/create a two word tag, and how to you specify exactly what is supposed to be described by that tag, and how do you share that in a useful way.

      The fact that someone thinks something is funny and someone else thinks it is inappropriate is useful information to gather, if you get 5000 funny and 5 inappropriate, you have a lot more information than if you have nothing at all, but even in you get 10 and 10 you still have more information, which is probably a good thing.
    • Herein lies the rub: You're never going to get everyone to agree on a set of appropriate tags.

      Yeah. That's not what TFA is about. You should read it.

  • by T-Ranger ( 10520 ) <> on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:19AM (#17613004) Homepage
    Is not to tag everything like 13 year old cheerleaders.
  • One Key Point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Azarael ( 896715 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:20AM (#17613016) Homepage
    How do you standardize something that has not been widely implemented before? It's great to say that it would be good idea to have one standard practice for tagging, but which one? There's no reason to make a huge fuss about this until it a least one clear contender for standardization emerges (which will probably happen on its own).
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:30AM (#17613130) Journal
      Obviously we have to find the lowest common denominator between all the different tagging systems.

      I propose that we standardize the following tags:
      That should cover 100% of the content in a manner that everyone can relate to.
    • Re:One Key Point (Score:4, Insightful)

      by T-Ranger ( 10520 ) <> on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:43AM (#17613282) Homepage
      Well, not quite. Reading the blog post the problem lies with two areas: technology and linguistics.

      For technology, as an example, how do you quote things? How do you separate tokens? Do you use StudlyCaps and spaces? "Quoted words", and commas? If the later, what about nested quotes?

      Bullshit question. The question is solved. Use XML. (Yeah, well, it is the web). We don't need Yet Another CSV "standard". Tags may be presented as lists, in spans, or WTF ever. But if you are talking about storage and transmission, then store the tokens separately, and transmit them in an unambiguous format; in 2007, on the web, the solutions are implementation-specific and XML, respectively.

      For linguistics, thats harder. Nouns or verbs? Talk to a librarian, Im sure there are volumes of information on the right way. But I don't care, as I'm still disgusted that the technology problem even exists.

      Right now it seems there is little discussion on the problem. Right now, if implementations are trying to reinvent data encoding schemes either the implementations are totally brain dead (and need a kick in the ass from an outside force), or are completely oblivious to the problems they are encoding into there core features (and thus still need a kick in the ass). This is so bad, its worse then wrong. You have to try to get to the point of being wrong.

      Of course, I don't care because tags are stupid. OTOH, perhaps I would care if they at least were implemented in a potentially useful way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by robotninja ( 866362 )
      I can't believe I'm reading this -- it's a sad day for information science (I'm a librarian) when many otherwise knowledgeable, tech-savvy people are blinded by Web-2.0-speak. Let me reiterate another poster's comment:

      Tags are keywords. More specifically, they are subject keywords.

      If you can wrap your head around this idea, then you might realize what the author is talking about is a list of 'standardized' subject headings. You may know this by its common street name: a thesaurus [] (although some peopl
  • Er, I mean notatrap!

    One big problem is that people can just make them up, then you get the "greifers" who put bogus joke tags all over the place.

    (remember, the opposite of "itsatrap" is "!itsatrap", not "notatrap"!)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Um, no. I don't care what the FAQ says; "!itsatrap" is hard to distinguish from "itsatrap." Maybe it works in monospaced code, but not so well in proportional font.

      People who insist on sticking to the fucking rules are the number one problem facing today's society, methinks.
      • People who insist on sticking to the fucking rules are the number one problem facing today's society, methinks.

        Way to go against the machine! Fight the power of the slashdot tag system FAQ [], and become a legendary internet hero/freedomfighter. Free yourself from this evil oppressor, and liberate your fellow slashdot (ab)users from these bonds.

        Grow up

  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:21AM (#17613028) Journal
    How to share and categorize information is an ages old problem. One man's trash is another man's treasure, likewise, one man's bread is another man's dietary problem.

    I'm not sure, but haven't we already figured out that tagging would require more tags than the actual information being tagged to accomplish what the original poster was asking for?
  • Why not use an XML standard? If sites used a or similar, then people could put whatever they wanted inside. It would be simple for automated tools and users to find the tags and search against them. One of the most useful things that are similar to tags is the alt field in img. It allows people to search for photos online. Of course, this is open to abuse like anything else, and weren't search engines based on meta tags in the header at one point until people took advantage of them? Still, if tags ar
    • by Azarael ( 896715 )
      Syntactically that would probably work fine, however, it won't add anything in the way of semantics, which is what the article covers. i.e. What types of text to actually put inside of the tags, spaces/no-spaces, etc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by T-Ranger ( 10520 )
        Words have spaces between them. A tag may have multiple words and be an independent thought. Store it as English demands, with spaces. The Space, NoSpace question is only relevant if you are using an encoding scheme that is broken. Verb/Noun is a different question, but space/nospace, quotes, and BS like that is quickly solved with existing technology.
  • by NineNine ( 235196 )
    A tagging standard isn't needed. Tags are just keyword that describe something. They're *WORDS* for Christs's sake. Just screen scrape them if you have to. Put them in a database. Read them aloud with a British accent, if you'd like. But if you can't parse plain old words, then I don't think that any kind of "standard" is going to help you.

    In the article, this guy is saying that some tags have spaces in them, and some don't, so that makes it hard. How about "where lcase(tags) like '%vista%'? How har
  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:22AM (#17613050)
    I don't feel that tags have enough significance behind them to merit a standard. I'd be more concerned with truth in journalism first, for my part.
  • Hopeless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigmouth_strikes ( 224629 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:23AM (#17613066) Journal
    Trying to standardize tags in the context of standardizing what they are, is hopeless. It'll be like the Unicode standard; too complex to use in its entirety.

    But to standardize the format of tags and to standardize how to exchange tags between systems, is a great idea.
  • by setirw ( 854029 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:24AM (#17613072) Homepage
    Which is why I tagged this article with "njkewjdkewd."
  • by elzahir ( 442873 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:25AM (#17613078) Homepage Journal
    He said "blogosphere." Instantly, I don't care.

    Only thing worse would be something like, I dunno, "tags should be a Web 2.0 standard" or somesuch.

    Excuse me, but "proactive" and "paradigm"? Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important?
    • by Frnknstn ( 663642 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:49AM (#17613368)
      "buzzword" is a term used by cynical people trying to sound important.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "Cynical" is a term used by anal-retentive people trying to sound wise.
    • I call "bingo"!
  • Would make tagging almost useless. There are many different ways you can view one thing and to limit the expressions used to tag something limits the possibilities of communication. On the other hand leaving the tags available as open ended can turn out to be redundant, you may as well just tag something as its complete description. Perhaps the best way would just be to let people make up their own minds.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I don't think there is a real problem here... The problem mainly is the displaying of tags. The 'tag cloud' (and the person that invented it) should be banned from the internet and something better will have to be invented in the next couple of years. Tags that work on site x don't have to work on site y and don't even have to have any relevance so why a standard?
  • Hyphens. (Score:3, Funny)

    by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@spamgoe ... minus poet> on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:29AM (#17613118) Homepage
    I must say that the Slashdot way of tagging irks me. I think tags should have hyphens between words, much like they do in their "from the the-slow-down dept". Makes it more readable.
    Any-tagging-stuff-I-have-to-write-will-use-hyphens as who knows what analbum is?
    • Re:Hyphens. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chryana ( 708485 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:52PM (#17615132)
      I would add to this that slashdot tags tend to be not very useful.

      Most of the time, the tags have little to do with the actual article (eg. yes, no, maybe, fud, notfud, flamebait). I thought the purpose of tags was to be able to find an article easily later on when it has been archived, and the usefulness of the tags I just mentioned for this purpose is dubious at best. I do not pretend to have a solution to this problem, but I think the situation would be improved if the editors or maybe the /.ers who wrote the top rated comment where the only people allowed to set the tags.
  • tagging (Score:5, Funny)

    by AcidLacedPenguiN ( 835552 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:34AM (#17613176)
    and here I thought the standard for tagging was for the first person to agree or disagree with the headline, then the next has to immediately disagree with the first person. 5 minutes down the line if no one has added another tag, the third must disgree with BOTH the first and the second poster. Finally, a serious slashdotter will show up to add a relevant tag, followed by the oh so frequent itsatrap and slownewsday tags.
    • The parent should be modded insightful, not funny. As it is the tagging system is about as useful as the parent describes; that is to say it's not useful at all.
  • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:36AM (#17613186) Homepage Journal
    Tags are human assigned labels for something that we don't have better meta-data for, or where we don't want to be bothered with formalism. If you want something formal, go use a proper taxonomy/ontology and put bucketloads of OWL or RDF-schema data on your site to define relationships, or use format with well defined semantics to add information. Noone is stopping you, and there are cases where formally defining relationships is worthwhile, such as when you want software agents to be able to infer stuff about the data. But that's not what tagging is used for. Tagging is used for ad-hoc manual classification in situations where it is good enough
  • XSLT for Tags? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by null etc. ( 524767 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:36AM (#17613194)
    Similar to how XML uses XSLT to transform XML documents from one application to another, it wouldn't be a half-bad idea to have a Tag Transformation Language. Organizations with a lot of market share can define their own tag standards, and then people can optionally specify the transformation between their own local ontologies and the established tag standards. This has the advantage of being participation-driven.
  • And while we're at it, we should get everyone to agree to speak the same language and believe in the same religion!
  • Too many chefs, etc. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pope ( 17780 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:40AM (#17613244)
    Tagging, like anything else designed to be helpful, simply won't work if *anything* is allowed. For every person who tags something "correctly" in an effort to do good, how many people will deliberately mis-tag something to produce misleading results?

    Better to get rid of tagging altogether and go back to text searching! :)
  • No.. and yes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by slashmojo ( 818930 )

    First of all tags are not exclusive to the blogosphere - they exist on the boardscape (see boardtracker [] for example) and of course on the many social nets and pretty much everywhere else.

    There are already microformats [] for defining tags which can and should be used.

    Tags are for building a folksonomy [] and created 'by the people' so are by their nature, to a certain extent, personalized and flexible.. what makes sense to you may make no sense to everyone else but so what? You made it, its good for you and t

    • by nuzak ( 959558 )
      > Tags are for building a folksonomy

      I can live with Web 2.0 and blogosphere, but you will never catch me saying "folksonomy" in any conversation except to deride it.

      It's keywords. Welcome to usenet. There's nothing to see here. Seriously, internet pop culture is like some sort of weird reverse cargo cult that believes it invented every trivial technology.
  • The Annotea Project [] is a W3C project that ties together standards that allow attaching metadata to web pages without altering the contents of the object.

    The Amaya web browser/editor [] is a W3C project that serves as a testbed for the consortium's standards - including an annotea implimentation (the most interesting part of the project imho).

    Basically, you can keep your own local metadata, or have a central shared resource with that implimentation. Of course, you could build your own implimentation that has o
  • Someone should patent tagging, license it out for a small cost and enforce a standard...
  • I've talked to librarians and information scientists, and they talk about "controlled vocabulary". They told me one of the best systems was Pubmed [] which is an index of essentially every article published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Every article is "tagged" with Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) keywords, and you can search the database for those keywords. If they can use "heart" or "cardiac", they have to decide which one to use (they use "cardiac"). They
  • Even if there was a tagging standard, the choice of tag(s) will still be up to the people applying the tags. Different people will have different interpretations.
    Just look at how well Genres worked out for MP3-ID3, especially on services like Gracenote where people would just upload any old cruft.
  • I'm surprised this isn't already common practice, but why not implement tag searching in a LikeMinds scheme. For example, when you're looking for items tagged "funny", you would be shown items that have been tagged as such by people who in the past have tagged things the same way you have. This way you have a better chance of finding things that really are funny to you, based on what you thought was funny in the past.

    Obviously though this would do nothing for Slashdot's tagging system which has (probably un
  • The one time that tags were really useful to me were when I was asked to implement rounded corners on the portlets of a web page, and I was looking at what other people had done. I didn't find exactly what I was looking for until I checked for 'rounded' and found lots of other ways of rounding the corners of web content.

    I've been asked to implement tags on an existing discussion site, and I'm afraid it's going to turn out as poorly as the tags on slashdot. Unless the tagging system is used by
  • the solution... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bazman ( 4849 )
    I just RTFA and apparently the biggest problem is whether you type your tags as "Windows Vista","Piece Of Crap" or Windows_Vista,Piece_Of_Crap or WindowsVista,PieceOfCrap, so that people who put tags on might get confused when putting tags on Spaces? Quotes? Delimeters? Oh my. What shall we do.

    Basically, people are too dumb/lazy/stupid to read a one-line description of how to format their tags. How confusing can it be? You just show people how to do it in the form, e.
  • Quick, somebody tag this article "Yes".
  • Argh (Score:3, Funny)

    by eMbry00s ( 952989 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:10AM (#17613636)
    I think by "blogosphere", you really mean "internet".
  • Oh yes, Brain. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by neimon ( 713907 )
    Let's create a committee to discuss the standard, and send out several RFCs, then split off into an angry sub-contingent that insists tags be open-source and then Sun decides to embrace tags, but screws it up, and Microsoft buys its way into tags and engineers a perfect way to pwn your machine through the tag "1337."

    Don't forget to make it structured, with methods and types and blah blah blah.

    It's just words, fer chrissakes. When you can tell me the difference between "its" and "it's" then you can talk abou
  • RSS readers are ubiquitous. Generating custom RSS feeds from content is trivial on the server side. Building an RSS reader to pull tag information from another site into tagging software is trivial. The only thing that people need to do is to build it into their tagging engines so that their customers can easily find related information. The last thing I want to do, however, is to have things "suggested" to me. Why should and Technorati automatically be integrated? Leave that to the user.
  • there is a standard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yonder Way ( 603108 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:17AM (#17613718)

    There is a standard but nobody uses it these days. Even the search engines disavow it anymore.

    <META name="keywords" content="foo, bar, baz"/>
    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      Close, but that only defined keywords in an HTML document. How would that apply to an image, for example? Or an mp3? etc. Having one standard for one file type is not a standard when considered against all other file types.
  • Better hurry... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:22AM (#17613792)
    If someone gets started on a tagging standard right now, it might see a little use before the whole silly idea goes out of style next year.
  • I don't care so much about the actual tags themselves. Letting people tag however they like is the whole point, isn't it?

    But I would like to see a single standard API for adding tags and searching for tags. The exact same code should be able to connect to every tag-enabled site. A nice simple REST thing, an HTTP GET to send a query and an XML fragment as result.

    I figure there would be two types of query:

    1) Send an object identifier (URL, photo id, whatever) and get back a list of tags.

    2) Send a tag or li
  • I'm a big fan of tags. I just recently got finished with a redesign of a personal web site at [], and it uses tags heavily now. All of the content including photos, MP3s, videos, song lyrics, external links, documents, albums, individual tracks, and so on uses the same set of tags (which I applied). I can then use those tags to tie everything on the site together. Examples: Richard O'Brien [], Little Nell [], Rocky Horror Show []. Since I did all the tagging, it's consistent across all the content a
  • Two issues here.

    One is the "standard" of representation. Tags are not like a contact lists or meta data laden resource indexes. They're just words, an array of strings. If your favorite language can figure out how to go from, say, "tag1, tag2" to "array('tag1','tag2')" you have bigger problems than standards.

    The other issue is defining a universal, standard, taxonomy. From Dewey to RDF, we're no closer now than we ever were. You're asking people to all come to an agreement as to how they view the world
  • You mean XML doesn't solve this problem? Blasphemy!
  • by AdamHaun ( 43173 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:00PM (#17614312) Journal
    The only tags I like are my own. The real use of other people's tags is to show how they organize information, not to help me find something. The problems the article brings up are only the beginning -- the natural tendency of a global tagging system is for the number of tags applied to an object to increase without bound. If I'm doing a master's thesis on, say, web design, I might tag any number of sites "thesis". Is that useful to anyone else? Probably not. But it will interfere with someone who's searching for sites about writing theses.

    • Unless they figure out that the things you call 'thesis' are useful.
      I do this all the time on

      - Find a page that is likely to be bookmarked by anyone doing academia on web design

      - Use the "others who have bookmarked this page" function to get a list of other users
      who have tagged the URL in question.

      - See anybody using the tag 'thesis'? You probably want to see what else they've tagged that way.

      If you're lucky, you just saved yourself a butt load of research.

      Tags allow people to usefully keep tra
  • by wraithgar ( 317805 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:36PM (#17614862) Homepage Journal
    I think for me the moment I realized that the idea of tags needed a little bit of work was the day I saw them on I was viewing a product there, and it had been tagged "Presents for Jim".
  • The only thing missing from tagging is search. The API is standard already, (Flickr -> pictures, -> Resource Sites, News Sites: News)

    I would love to have a tag option in Google.

  • I think there definitely should be a standard of classifying information: we have huge masses of people classifying information they encounter on the web, it's the human equivalent of SETI. And therefore it would be a shame if we didn't allow people to take it one step further and give everyone the ability to do it "right" (for their particular version of right).

    I am not opposing the free-style tagging, as many people wouldn't bother with any formal definitions, but having a standard so you can optionally u
  • A tagging standard? Never gonna happen. Probably not even possible.

    Some words have more than one meaning in English alone, and different meanings throughout the different versions of English, then you can add in foreign languages too.

    Take for example the words "strip" or "ass" as an example (um, not sure why those came into my head first...). Search for "ass" and you get things about donkeys, amongst a variety of more or less interesting things. My guess is that the few mental patients searching for
  • I've thought for along time that the Internet (search engines in particular) is screaming for the equiv. of a Dewey Decimal system. I think the blog categorization taxonomy is an extension of that need...
  • by BovineSpirit ( 247170 ) on Monday January 15, 2007 @02:20PM (#17616452) Homepage
    The rel-tag microformat [] is an attempt to standardise tagging. It relies on other microformats to define what it is you are tagging. There isn't a 'photo' microformat at the moment, so you can't do a web-wide search for photos tagged 'fireworks' for example. If you're interested in the semantic web it's worth checking out microformats. You can download a plugin [] for firefox that reads microformats. Go and have a look at Flickr with it, or any other site that implements microformats. If people have tagged something with a 'geo' tag giving long. and lat. then it will bring up a Google Map showing the location. If they've included a 'hCard' around their contact details you can add it to your address book.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    hey guys,

    for those interested in a "tagging standard" for the semantic web (i.e. an ontology describing the concept of tagging) check out:


  • A dictionary.

    There are people who live and die by tagging their information. They build folders and create lists.

    There are people who just go through life serendipitously. They never use the laundry hamper and most people call them slobs.

    Between these two groups are the rest of humanity. Sometimes they make lists and sometimes they don't. And just because the word, "librarian," strikes a fear of boredom, most people ignore library sciences. The science of tagging, if to be used as a global panacea, must

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson