Tag Management

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Tag Management

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Jul 26, 2007, 4:34pm

There have been several ideas put forward for tag attributes so you could specify that a certain tag means that the software shouldn't use that book for suggestions or another tag means that you don't own the book so it shouldn't be included in largest library calculations, for example. But Tim has also said that tags shouldn't be hard. So here's an idea to make tag management easy and also solve some other problems with tags, such as tag hierarchies and tag ordering.

(I know Tim has mentioned something about tag bundles which may conflict with this idea, but since I have no idea what that is or where in the process of being implemented it is I'm going to go ahead and present this idea).

I suggest a new tag management page that would be linked to from the current tag page that is behind the tag tab and possibly from the tag pages as well. This page would present you with all of your tags in a grid with tags down the left and across the top would be columns for Don't Suggest, Unowned, Private etc. (or maybe that should be Suggest and Owned with their default being set). This should make it quite easy to set your tag attributes and to see what they are.

Another numeric column would be Tag Order with the meaning that if two tags are both present on the same book that the lower numbered tag would always be shown first.

A little more complicated idea would be that some tags could imply other tags so, for example, fantasy might be set to imply fiction with the result that whenever you put the fantasy tag on a book, TL also adds the fiction tag. This would be a way to enforce a tag hierarchy and could be done by having one of the columns being a drop-down list with all of your other tags. If another tag is specified in the drop-down list then TL will reorder the tags on the tag management page with the sub-tag showing up right below the super-tag and indenting it.

I do see a problem with people who have a system for creating lots of unique tags for things like location (Room1Cabinet2Shelf3Book4). This can be handled if tags could take values. For example, you could create a loc tag for locations and check the Has Value column and then you could use loc:r1c2s3b4 in your catalog. People who already have this system could have a massive conversion effort though.

I hope that wasn't too long. Any thoughts?

2aaron_t_hanson First Message
Jul 26, 2007, 8:15pm

Personally, I think this is a great idea. It could potentially solve the owned/unowned; read/unread; and wishlist and suggestions issues so many people have been talking about.

That said this introduces a great deal of complexity to tagging. Imagine having 500 unique tags to sort through and set each value individually, not a pleasant experience.
The tag hierarchy sounds like it would be easy to make circular links where if you selected one tag three or more get added as well. So that if one tag is present all the linked tags are there, distinction fails. Perhaps that's not bad? It could even be considered a feature.
Tag Order or maybe Tag Priority sounds interesting, but needs to be fleshed out a bit. I'm not really sure what the purpose would be for it.

I'd probably use this system, even if might be overwhelming. But it should also be completely ignorable, if an LTer doesn't want to use it the they wouldn't have to. Anyway, I'd like to be able to define at least some of my tags to have special meaning to the system and this sounds like a good way to do it. Or maybe a good start.
Just my 2 cents

Jul 26, 2007, 8:36pm

jj: before you go any further with this, I really recommend that you check out del.icio.us -- that's where the tag bundle idea comes from, and it does a good bit of what you're talking about without nearly as much complexity.

Basically, a tag bundle is... a bundle of tags. I can group any of the tags I've used into non-exclusive* batches. It's not strictly hierarchical, because, again, it's non-exclusive, and I can look at a tag across all my bundles or indeed all of the site, but it allows a level of containment for people who want to use it as a hierarchy or for people who want to use certain tags that way -- I have a bundle that consists only of private links, because I'm always forgetting how to get to various work-specific tools, login pages, and the like, even though I'm a huge tagging whore for most things.

It's a much simpler and more flexible system than tables and checkboxes and pre-defined tag uses that may or may not work for anyone else. If it were implemented here, it certainly wouldn't do everything you say, but I suspect it would help with a number of recurring issues. Also, it's fun to play around with.

On the other hand, tag ordering feels anti-tagging to me (I think someone else brought up the same point in the Everything Is Miscellaneous Contest thread). Tags aren't hierarchical, they're faceted. And tag dependencies are just wrong -- the whole point is that even if 99% of the time "fantasy" implies "fiction", sometimes it implies "erotica" or "cake" or "foreign policy" instead. Plus, dropdowns with hundreds of items are to be avoided!

* I have "metadata" listed in my "ideas", "school", and "technology" bundles right now, but it may come out of the school batch when the metadata class I'm taking this semester is over. Or it may not. Probably not. Because it's everywhere!

Jul 26, 2007, 9:41pm

#2: The idea is that the tags would be hierarchical, loops would be disallowed. The idea of Tag Order is that tags would always be listed in the same order. Perhaps it is against the tagging philosophy, but it would make sorting by the tag field make some sense (at least the books with identical tags would be sorted together) and if you always have a location tag and a owner tag (me or my wife) and a book condition tag, it would be easier to detect if one is missing if they always appeared in the same order.

I hadn't considered someone having 500 tags, I have maybe 30 total.

#3: I think hierarchy in at least some tags is necessary. How else can I select all animals if the only tags I have are lions and tigers and bears, etc. etc.? But it looks like tag bundles would take care of that.

What do you mean that you have a bundle consisting of private links? I thought we were talking about bundles of tags? Or does del.icio.us do bundles of links and the concept of bundles is what is being borrowed? If so, then it looks like links have attributes, like private, so why can't tags have attributes too?

Jul 26, 2007, 10:14pm

It would be great if we could force some kind of tag ordering without going through each book and fixing them. What would be great is if we could force it by bundle...say, you have a bundle of location tags, and they always appear in one place, and a bundle of owner tags, and a bundle of condition tags, and they each only appear in one place. This would be really helpful, organizationally.

Jul 26, 2007, 10:20pm

How does that work if a tag appears in more than one bundle, which is apparently the advantage of bundles over hierarchies.

Jul 26, 2007, 10:38pm

I'm obviously using some kind of misconceptions of what a bundle is. That's fine. It's never really been explained that well or anything.

Jul 27, 2007, 5:13am

I like the tag management age, a drag and drop would be ok - even though I've a lot of unique tags to sort, most would remain in the default, nothing special field.

I don't liek the imposing order fields though, because that starts constraining some of the freedom. Tags are already ordered - the first tag you type is sorted first.

TIM is against auto-tagging which is your last idea. As am I, if I wanted something to be tagged both fiction and fantasy I'd do so. Besides there are non-fiction works I'd also tag fantasy.

Jul 27, 2007, 7:34am

Tags are already ordered - the first tag you type is sorted first.

Yeah, but if you have to use the tag replacement hack in power edit (add tag, delete tag) that order is lost. Or if you add a new "standard" tag, and do it through power edit, it comes at the end rather than towards the beginning where you would (probably) want it. I don't think it's constraining any freedom to be able to sort tags easily, I think it's just facilitating the catalogue sort on tags.

Jul 27, 2007, 9:15am

#8: Neither of those functions are required. If you don't care about tag order and don't have hierarchical tags then don't use those features.

I also don't think the latter function is auto-tagging, it's just a way of saving a lot of typing when you want hierarchy in your tags. You could also have the system implicitely know that when I search for fiction that it should select all the fantasy and science fiction books but I think the way I suggested is probably easier to program.