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(A smaller reason I don't tag is that I'm not accustomed to tagging so I had to do a lot of hunting around to figure out the "rules" for tagging.)
Don't worry so much about them and simply tag each book with whatever tag would be most meaningful for you. Don't be afraid to make up your own!!! At a later date, you can go back and add, edit, or delete any of them.
The tag clouds are great for this purpose. In your own tag cloud, you can see which tags overlap or which make no sense. You can change them then and there!
Or the ability to search tags based on one word in the tag, instead of the entire tag. Then I can type in "Booker" to see if I used "Booker Prize" or "Booker Winner" or whatever.
I am, however, dead-set against suggestions from others' tags. This might seem easier in the short-run, but tags work best when they are about how you see the world—when they're your mental map. Use someone else's term and you might as well use traditional subjects, except more thought went into those.
As for "rules" of tagging, you probably meant technical rules. But, I'll tell you that, at librarian conferences, I frequently get a question about whether and what LibraryThing has to say about tagging best practices—and never from others. I have no opinion on the issue whatsoever, and will never be putting up guidelines, other perhaps than saying "do what makes sense to you." :)
Besides, there's nothing stopping any one from getting together with their 100 bestest friends and developing a loose tagging convention.
To clean up tags, look at your alphabetical tag list. You'll quickly spot things like spelling differences, etc.
9METAlibrary First Message
What would really be helpful would be a way of grouping your own tabs (in addition to the alphabetical list): e.g., a genre group, a nationality group, or whatever suits your fancy. This would, for me anyway, make it easier to find the tag I'm looking for than the long run-in list of tags.
I realize that in the example I could just delete those 50 tags and add back tags with the inserted word. But when you have a lot of tags with generic-type entry, viz. "music/vinyl/" with follow-on tags all differing slightly (e.g., "music/vinyl/contemporary/kj" & "music/vinyl/jazz/piano/tb") and there are hundreds such...you're screwed if you want to insert something between music & vinyl, or even add a tag word to the beginning of the whole tag, whereas you CAN add whatever you like to the end, but this goofs up any fine tuning you want your tags to do such as putting works in alphabetical order for a particular purpose. Basicallly you're left with the unappetizing choice of modifying each tag individually.
> What would be useful would be a drop-down list of our
> previously-used tags! I can never remember if I've used
> "exhibition catalog", "exhibition catalogs", or the "-gue"
> variants. Was that "History-England" or "History-English"?
A drop-down list of previously-used tags probably wouldn't be that useful for those of us using more than a thousand different tags, would it?
Then again, having a wade through your own tags list--even a quick glance can do--one in a while, might "solve" most of your "problems".
Personally, I am using some thirteen hundred and some different tags now, and I do not think my personal tagging system is a mess. YMMV.
Because (at present) LT lacks any support for book series--which is a pity, I think--I happen to put serial name and serial sequential number as 1st and 2nd tag. Because some series contain several subseries, my turnaround using tags might affect the 3rd tag, too. Mind strict tag order is important for this matter.
Cf. i.a. FAQ : A Way to Get Series Books into Reading Order in Your Catologue? containing my explaining /talktopic.php?topic=2173#19839 and /talktopic.php?topic=2173#19914.
Concluding : me and some others do care quite a lot about the first AND the second (etc.) tag and their strict ranging, place & order.
Bonus : It might be a good idea to provide for book series above and beyond the present turnaround using tags.
Two things. Yes, I'd like to be able to drag tags from my tag cloud into an item, as long as I'm fantasizing, and I like the idea of organizing tags into convenient tag-pots.
Squeakychu, you wrote, "I think the fun of tags are that they are so individual." Ohhhh, I feel faint ;-) (Sometimes the traditional librarian emerges in me...)
Speaking of which--getting off one bus and onto another--this is my problem with facets. There's no accepted UI for them yet. You can't tell without *reading* whether a facet "goes deeper" or just changes the search. The whole "narrowing" idea of facets runs against people's understanding of a link. That is, if the link says "Mountain climbing" the assumption is that it leads to books about mountain climbing, not that it takes your current, possibly bad, search, and gives you a "mountain climbing" slice of it.
For example, people understand the "related tags" on LT to be a new search, not a facet. How would I communciate "overlap" or "narrowing"?
For certain tags they are preceded or followed by modifying tags - language books have the languages they are in right after the language tags, the name of a series is followed by a series tag, award winner, folllowed by name of award, etc., a date goes after historical or historical fiction.
It's not entirely logical because it grew organically as I found new tags to add, and I don't always get it correct ( I have an average of 7 tags each on 1300 books, it's hard to spot the anomalies, and this is the first time I've written my tag order down). It's only really meaningful to me, but I'm very grateful to be able to organise tags by order.
Since the latest firefox upgrade fixed the problem I was having with my browser crashing after editing tags in library view I'm pretty happy with the ways of entering tags. I don't use power edit, even though I possibly could for some things.
I see tags are very useful for describing personal titles and recording a mental map, customizing a library. If I can add, though, there's something to be said for keeping an eye on the tags other owners have used for works. Sometimes adding a common tag will link two works where I want to describe a relationship that isn't captured any other way--It extends my map beyond titles I currently own.
If tag pots means what I suugested (being able to group tags) into categories, what I actually meant was that each user could do this for his/her own tags. For example, under a heading of "Science," I might group my tags for biodiversity, biogeography, geology, ecology, mathematics, developmental biology, etc.
So I'm not clear why there would have to be a convention, since choosing group headings could be up to the individual user, just as picking the tags is. But maybe I don't understand what Tim meant by "convention," since I have no knowledge of programming.
Edited to remove typos caused by lack of coffee before typing original message.
I'm not sure but I think Tim was referring to a programming/UI convention with regards to "drilling" down through "levels" of tags.
To repeat and extend the example above:
biodiversity, biogeography, developmental biology, ecology, geology, mathematics
French, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish
The headings wouldn't have to be tags themselves, just an organizing tool.
And - because this thread has no touchstones - Women, Fire and Dangerous Things
I have worked my tags so that my LT collection exactly (or as exactly as possible where some shelves are double or triple loaded where they get into my old scifi paperbacks) follows the "shelf order" of my physical library. This has placed me in the odd position of being on the "50 top taggers (by number of distinct tags)" list, although not having a single "content" tag (each of my books has a distinct tag reflecting bookcase/shelf/book and the past hundred or so books I've read also carry a "date finished" tag).
I have been hesitant to add any content tags for fear of messing up the current ordering of my LT display. I would heartily welcome a way to make all my current location (and date) tags "private" (assuming I'd still be able to sort on them), which would also remove those otherwise useless (for everybody else) "filed c09-s4-b05"-style tags for the general "tag population"!
> I have been hesitant to add any content tags for
> fear of messing up the current ordering of my LT display.
You needn't fear. Just make sure your ordering tags are first. Personally, I use the latter technique for indicating series and numbers--i.e. ordering--within series, and I know some others do so, too. It was even discussed (and explained) somewhere in LT Talk, too. While LT is lacking any (better) books series feature, this might be a suitable turnaround, I think.
I thought your "private"--i.e. book location--tags weren't meant to be private at all, for you are hinting and inviting whatever visitor to use the "right" order and even explaining how he can do so. Though quite particular indeed, that's a nice feature, I think. I do not get why you went through the effort of explaining your ranging method if you 'd rather not want anybody to see it.
I wouldn't mind that much about 'the odd position of being on the "50 top taggers (by number of distinct tags)" list'. It doesn't hurt anybody, does it?
It's not so much that I don't "want anybody to see it", it's more that I'm sensitive to the level of "tag pollution" my 1,712 "useless for anybody else" tags creates out there. I know that I have a twinge of "why am I looking at this?" when I see other people's tags like "box 7", or "Mike's", or "loaned to Mom", etc., so I assume that others running into MY idiosyncratic location tags have some fleeting negative reaction as well.