Tagging improvements

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Tagging improvements

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Nov 5, 2006, 8:07am

I'd like to see the ability to copy tags more easily. I caught a comment somewhere that a lot of LT users don't tag. I know why I don't tag: it's laborious. When I add a book, LT brings in the record very nicely, but it doesn't give me the option to pull in the tags others are using for the same book or to glean a broader tag pool from related items. So I need to hunt and peck, then copy and paste, etc.

(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.)

Edited: Nov 5, 2006, 8:47am

I think the fun of tags are that they are so individual.

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!

Nov 5, 2006, 10:32am

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"?

Nov 5, 2006, 12:26pm

Yes! Previously-used tags would be good.

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.

Edited: Nov 5, 2006, 12:40pm

You can do a partial search now '*Booker*' works fine (so btw does '*ooker*' but you get more interesting results).

Nov 5, 2006, 2:16pm

I want to have some way to hit previously-used tags. VERY early on I had a Google-ish autocomplete, but it wasn't exactly right and frankly the code—it was open source—was so complex as to prevent me from working on it.

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." :)

Nov 5, 2006, 2:17pm

Oh, incidentally, although most users don't tag, most users with more than a few books do. Tagging only makes sense if you have a lot of books.

Nov 5, 2006, 4:47pm

That's true! More books means more incentive to tag.

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
Nov 5, 2006, 7:51pm

I open 2 browser windows to edit and view my tags so I can check consistency when tagging new books.

Nov 6, 2006, 8:36am

METAlibrary, I do the same thing you do, but I have so many tags. I like the idea of a drop-down list, but it might become unmanageable too.

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.

Edited: Nov 6, 2006, 2:36pm

I have found that the power-edit function won't allow an inserted addition to the tag. e.g., existing tag: "fiction/mystery/box07" (and let's say you've got 50 of 'em like that) which you now want to insert "paperback" into thus: "fiction/paperback/mystery/box07". It can't be done...unless there's something I don't understand about the function. Is this the case? and if so, can it be made to accept inserted tag words?

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.

Nov 6, 2006, 3:30pm

>3 lilithcat:

> 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.

Nov 6, 2006, 7:27pm

Oroboros: No, there's no way to insert them in the order. What do you use the order for. I've heard from people who care a lot about the FIRST tag (which affects sorting), but how do 2, 3, 4, etc. work for you?

Nov 6, 2006, 8:09pm

>13 timspalding:

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.

Nov 6, 2006, 11:16pm

A number of people care about tag order because they can do things with it after it has been exported. I keep my tag order in my profile as a comment, just for consistency and neatness. Users mangaroo and mikeneko also tag in order. I believe one of them uses: market genre, author, publisher, imprint and the other author, market genre, type/lang, type, lit genre ...

Nov 6, 2006, 11:23pm

No, I get it. Interesting to know. Series has been mentioned elsewhere and is a planned improvement. I've got a lot of those, however, and it's not at the top.

Nov 7, 2006, 2:57pm

Tag order feels like a hold-over from LC cataloging, where subjects are assigned and usually displayed in order of importance to the item. Not that this is a bad thing, of course, ahem...

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...)

Nov 8, 2006, 3:23pm

The problem with tag-pots (nice term) is that there's no convention.

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"?

Nov 8, 2006, 5:13pm

I'm using tag order extensively to organise my tags and make it easier to keep track of them and sort by them. I always put 'fiction' or 'nonfiction' first, age (either it's tagged 'juvenile' or it isn't), then genre(s), main subject areas, minor subject areas, then format of story (eg 'short story', 'collection', 'anthology' 'excerpts' 'illustrated') then series information, then location of setting, then date read, then details about my actual copy or it's library thing record (e.g. 'second copy', 'wrong cover',).

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.

Nov 8, 2006, 5:37pm

As done at del.icio.us, I've used "." to separate facets and indicate narrowing. After working with traditional subject headings most of the day, I tried few improvements for tags.

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.

Edited: Nov 9, 2006, 11:53am

Tim wrote (#18) The problem with tag-pots (nice term) is that there's no convention

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.

Nov 9, 2006, 11:47am

But maybe I don't understand what Tim meant by "convention," since I have no knowledge of programming.

I'm not sure but I think Tim was referring to a programming/UI convention with regards to "drilling" down through "levels" of tags.

Nov 9, 2006, 11:58am

Hmm, I wasn't necessarily thinking of drilling down through levels, but just being able to create groups with a heading to organize the tags on my tag page, instead of having just the alphabetical or frequency run-in lists. It would make life so much easier for me.

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.

Nov 10, 2006, 5:31am

rebeccanyc has pinpointed the biggest problem with tags--how shallow they are ontologically, if I can say such a thing before I have drunk my cuppa joe. LCSH may be clunky, but that Division-Subdivision concept doesn't have any useful equivalent in tagging.

Nov 10, 2006, 6:11am

They are ontologically shallow but also broad (if I may stretch a metaphor) as opposed to the 'narrowness' imposed by rigid hierarchical categories. I think it would be neat to allow 'fuzzy' clustering of tags - in much the same way as collections are proposed for books - so that one tag could belong to several clusters.

And - because this thread has no touchstones - Women, Fire and Dangerous Things

Edited: Nov 10, 2006, 6:29am

I'd be happy to simply have "fuzzy clustering" to the extent of personal vs. public tags.

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"!

Nov 10, 2006, 2:17pm


> 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?


Nov 10, 2006, 10:45pm

"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."

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.

29PaulFoley First Message
Nov 10, 2006, 11:10pm

There was a good suggestion in a previous thread about any tag starting with * or # being hidden.