I'd like to take a moment to revisit the tagging subject with the community, because in less than two weeks the system has become an absolute freaking mess. If a chunk of us would make the effort, it can be quickly turned into a very useful tool.
The tagging system was supposed to make locating information easier. But as usual, when you have a user base this size, it's gotten out of control very quickly. So can we have a discussion about common sense tagging? I'm just going to go through a few things I noticed while doing the clean up today in the hopes that at least some of you will read this and take some initiative to help get it under control.
First, let's revisit the tagging tips, shall we?
- Use combinations of simple tags rather than inventing complex ones. For instance, use tags CIA, LEAK and INVESTIGATION, instead of CIA-LEAK-INVESTIGATION.
- Try to think of what tags people might use to search for something and use those. For example, PLAME, KARL ROVE, PATRICK FITZGERALD, BOB NOVAK, TREASON, OUTING, OPERATIVE might all be good tags for an entry on the Valerie Plame outing.
- Try to re-use existing tags.
- Keep it simple. Don't use tags that are redundant.
- For election blogging, add the year, state and office. So the Colorado governor's race in 2006 is tagged: "2006, governor, Colorado". Also add the dKos style abbreviation of the race (two digit state abbreviation and race). So a governor's race would be "CA-Gov", a Senate race "CA-Sen", and a congressional race would be "CA-06".
- Stop with the "cutesy" tags. This is a tool to help organize content, not show how clever you are with keywords like "HUNTERRIFIC" to express how great Hunter's diary was.
I didn't find too many abuses of tip #1, so I'll leave it be and move on to tip #2. Most folks are doing pretty good on this point, but some people are going a bit overboard. Does every diary about Valerie Plame need a "Bob Novak" tag? No, especially if the article does not relate directly to her outing. For example, say I post a diary about how Valerie Plame & Joe Wilson's lives have changed since the outing. I'm not going to tag it with Bob Novak, because the article doesn't mention him. It's one of those gooey profile stories. It needs tags like "Valerie Plame" and "Joe Wilson". All I'm saying here is that your article usually only needs a few tags, not ten or fifteen.
Moving on to tips #3 and 4. Those are where most people are not using any common sense at all. #3 says "reuse existing tags". That would imply that people should take a moment when tagging (especially because the handy "Tagging Tips" link is right there next to the tag box) to see if there's already a tag for the subject of your diary. Regarding tip #4, come on people, use some common sense. For those who've forgotten, the definition of redundant is "more than is needed, desired, or required". Think about this: do we really need both a "sixties" AND a "60s" tag? Do we really need both "KKK" and "Klan"? Do we really need both "DFA" AND "Democracy for America"? No. Remember, tagging is supposed to make things easier. It's not supposed to create such bloat that it becomes dysfunctional. Now since the list is so long right now, I know searching can be a PITA. Just press "control-F" on your keyboard (or I think "apple-f" for mac users) and a little search box will either pop up in IE or load at the bottom left of mozilla.
Tip #5 seems to be catching on, so I'll move along.
Regarding tip #6, we've still got a few problems there. We're all grown ups, right? Well, heh, most of us anyway. Why tag stuff with "yankees suck"? Even if they do suck, it's just a juvenile thing to do.
And one more thing. I am normally not the grammar police, but in this case it's imperative that you spell your tags correctly! Right now I see "Amrstriong Williams" and earlier I cleaned up about five variations of the name John Shalikashvili. Yea, I know that's not an easy one, but realistically, if you're unsure of how to spell something, please go to google or dictionary.com and make sure you get it right.
Now there's certainly room for some grey areas in all this, as metadiaries tend toward subjectiveness. I think that the system is fucked up already. Others may disagree. But I'm saying this from the perspective of a web and mail admin and a longtime user who'd like to see this feature work as it was intended. So that's where I'm coming from. And yea, I think it would be great if this made the rec list so the entire community could engage in this discussion.
If we all practise just a bit of due diligence the tagging system can become a thing of utility and beauty. I'm simply asking that the community please pitch in and follow the guidelines that were laid out when tagging was implemented. And of course, if you feeling like cleaning up some useless tags, then by all means please do so.
And remember, bad tagging practise makes baby metajeebus weep.