Tags associated with other tags

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Jun 23, 2008, 6:11pm

Maybe this can already be done and I just haven't figured out how to do it yet (if so, I'd appreciate it if someone would let me know how to do it!). I would like to see when I click on a tag in my library (say, "history") all the other tags that can be found on books tagged "history".

For example, if I have
Book 1 tagged "history, England, 20th century",
Book 2 tagged "USA, 20th century, history", and
Book 3 tagged "history, England, Scotland, 16th century",
Book 4 tagged "fiction, fantasy, England"

I would like to be able to click on the tag "history" and get a listing of "16th century, 20th century, England, Scotland, and USA". "fiction and fantasy" tags would be excluded from this list because they aren't on a book with a "history" tag. Ideally, I'd then like to be able to click on "England" and then get a listing of all books with the tags "history and England". I know that I can run searches for all books w/ tags "history and England", but I'd really like to see a list of associated tags for any given tag.

Jun 23, 2008, 6:19pm

Only your tags, though, right?

Jun 23, 2008, 6:19pm

Do you want to see tags that are associated in your library only, or across the whole site? If it's across LT as a whole, you can see related tags on the right-hand side of tag pages, e.g. the tag page for "history": http://www.librarything.com/tag/history.

If it's related tags only within your own library, I agree, and I requested something like this before:

I'm not sure if I'm thinking of exactly the same thing as you, though. Is there more you would want this to do? Would it be something like a tag page, but personalized - i.e. a tag page restricted to how the tag is used in your library?

Jun 23, 2008, 6:21pm

That would be really neat, if it showed related tags from your library.

It's already possible to see related tags from LibraryThing itself.

Jun 23, 2008, 6:22pm

Right. In theory, this is doable, but what's the UI for it? I'm worried of gumming up the catalog with another feature--in this case one that, despite its evident usefulness, has not been requested before.

Jun 23, 2008, 6:23pm

maybe allowing ?view= on tag pages?

Not sure about the tagmash part of it.

Jun 23, 2008, 6:25pm

(Similarly, I'd like to be able to do precise tag mashes within my catalog - something it doesn't seem possible to do with the current search function, since it pulls up any tag with a word in it, e.g. tag:"history" pulls up labor history, 18th century history, or whatever (tag:"science" pulls up social science, science fiction, etc.), when sometimes I just want to know what I've tagged with, say, both "history" (but only that single-word tag) and "France", or "science" and "history" - but not including books tagged social science, or political science, or science fiction.)

Jun 23, 2008, 6:29pm

"what's the UI for it" - maybe not in catalog view but a personalized tag page? Or, if in catalog view, via a tag mash search - if that's possible to implement - or else a "restrict by" function?

Jun 23, 2008, 6:46pm

timspalding: Yes, only my tags that I've given to books in my library (sorry, should have clarified that!).

rsterling: Yes, I think we are talking about the same thing - related tags within our own libraries.

I know how to see related tags across LT, but I'm less concerned about that than locating related books w/in my own library. I'm in the process of cataloguing my books and I'm trying to work out a tagging system that's not completely random - this feature would be a huge help, since I'm kind of an organizational freak. :-)

I wouldn't think that the UI would be difficult (not that I know much about these things). If I go to my tag page and click on "history", right now that takes me to a page that lists books with that tag. Great. Theoretically, on that same page couldn't there be, below or off to one side, a list of related tags? Or a link that says "related tags" that takes you to another page that lists all tags also found on the list of books tagged "history"?

Jun 23, 2008, 9:58pm

I don't know if this helps you or not, but I have my tags organized in a hierarchy. Something like 'history' would be tag number 1, with dates and places listed afterwards. Example:

book 1: history, 12th century, England
book 2: history, 12th century, Scotland
book 3: history, 20th century, Canada

The order you enter your tags is the order they will sort when you sort your library by tags, so if you use a hierarchy, you can see what books relate. Go to my library and sort by tags if this seems confusing - you'll see what I mean. This may be a way to help you, if Tim and co do not implement a tagmash for personal use.

Jun 23, 2008, 10:01pm

I've seen it requested at least once before and I've always thought it would be a great feature.

At the top where the 'map' is showing where you are you could follow it with a drop down of the tags related, and if one is selected you can add it to the list and have another dropdown showing the tags related to BOTH of the current tags listed (as a bonus)

Edited: Jun 23, 2008, 10:38pm

5> Actually, hierarchical tags have been requested frequently. I'm doing a very clumsy form of that - Science, Science:Evolution, Science:Astronomy, etc. Each one is a unique tag, but at least they sort together in my Tags list. It would be great if it could be worked out.

Doing two related tags wouldn't be too hard - the way elphaba44 suggested in 9 would work (or a separate link under the tag for 'related' or something like that). It's doing three or more that would be very difficult. Maybe...a page (like Tags, or a lightbox off Tags) with 3-5 fields (or a field with a More function), where you enter a tag, enter another tag (number of books with both displays), enter another tag (number updates to books with all three)...then click a button to See Books with all those tags.

That gives you related tags, but not really hierarchical. That may have to wait until tags get modified to codes instead of text (yeah, I believe it will have to happen at some point...), when Historical as a subset of Fiction will be distinguished from Historical as a subset of Romance as a subset of Fiction...to draw an example from my library.

ETA hierarchical discussion

Jun 23, 2008, 10:59pm

Just another vote to say this would be awesome, and would satisfy my previous desire (I think) of wanting to see a tag cloud narrowed down by tag.

Jun 23, 2008, 11:23pm

Me three - or was that five or six? I've wanted this for a long time, just didn't get around to voicing it. Sort of a "search within" or "narrow your results" function, just within one's own catalog. Hugely useful!

Edited: Dec 5, 2008, 8:00am

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Jun 24, 2008, 12:46am

Can I just have collections?

Part of me thinks, yes, hierarchal and related tags would be awesome. And then I thought but that's just one more thing to distract from collections...or is it?

Because couldn't collections semi-solve this problem? I could create a collection for my history books and then, ideally, be able to look at the tags on only those books.

See we want collections even more than you thought we did.

Jun 24, 2008, 1:18am

Yeah, I'm not too hot on doing hierarchical tags soon.

Jun 24, 2008, 1:24am

Part of the discussion here was about hierarchical tags (which would involve a new tagging structure), sure, but I think the starting-point was mostly about new ways of displaying relationships between tags, based on the structure already there. At any rate, the two are slightly separate suggestions.

Jun 24, 2008, 4:42am

15> Minor point, but I just went through and experimented - while } will work fine to sort your tags to the end of the list, and you'll be able to click on them from the tag page, you will _not_ be able to search for them - a search for tags:}* gives you all your books. The only symbols that worked both in tags and in search were !, @, and _ - all of which, unfortunately, sort to the beginning of the list. It may not matter to you, but it's something to keep in mind.

Jun 24, 2008, 3:31pm

I'll preface this by saying that I haven't been following the discussions on collections, other than just glancing at the blog posts on this subject, so feel free to correct me or point me in the way of a discussion that might enlighten me. But in my mind, couldn't this feature negate the need for collections? If you can click on a tag and bring up all books marked history, and then be able to see the tag cloud for just those books and be able to search w/in just those books. Because really, I don't want to separate out my history books from the rest of my library. I'd like to be able to do the same thing w/ the tag "England" - bring up all the English authors, historical fiction set in England, and history books about England, and see related tags "royalty" "small town life" "mystery". Wouldn't this feature give the users more flexibility than collections would? Or are these different features serving different needs?

I, too, am currently doing some modified forms of grouping tags - mostly for subgenres of fiction (Fantasy: Contemporary, Fantasy: Historical, etc) so I can find them easier on my tag listing. But that doesn't give me an idea of the true breadth of topics associated with any other topic, and that is what I'd dearly love to see. It would be doable to do group tags for my history collection, but it's pretty varied, so that would get to be a rather long list of tags! I may end up doing it anyway. I haven't catalogued most of my history collection yet for just this reason.

Hierarchical vs. related tags? I don't think I'm quite grasping the difference. Would this be a difference in the programming of the feature (in which case, I'd be clueless anyway) or would there actually be a difference in how it functioned for the users?

(and I appreciate the discussion, all - it's good to see what others are thinking about this!)

Jun 24, 2008, 3:44pm

Well...as I understand collections (and there is still considerable debate about what they'll actually do), the big difference from tags is that you can assign attributes to collections that affect how they're used. No, you wouldn't make a History collection - that's properly a tag function - but you might make a Wishlist collection that doesn't get counted in the books you own, or a Currently Reading collection that can show up on your homepage/blog/whatever (and books move in and out of it easily). Or a Trash Can collection of books you hate and don't want on your shelf but still want to review - and make that collection not be used for recommendations or be counted in your books. To me, at least, Collections are less identifiers and more locations/situations for books.

Jun 24, 2008, 4:03pm

Of the possible collections that you mention above, the one that in my mind does not belong is the Currently Reading collection since it does not make sense to me to think of them as separate from my "Main" library. Yet that's the one that Tim has been talking about lately making a Collection. Go figure.

Jun 24, 2008, 4:07pm

The big thing are books can be in multiple collections, I know thinking of a Currently reading collection is a little weird but I think it will work.

Edited: Dec 5, 2008, 8:02am

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Jun 24, 2008, 4:49pm

22> Yeah...but one of the attributes that can be assigned is whether it is separate or merely a subset of another collection. So Not Owned would be separate (and therefore not count in the totals), Currently Reading would be a subset (and all those books would still 'be' in the main Library collection). It's much easier to sort books (or anything solid) digitally, because then they can be in more than one place at the same time!

Again, this is how _I_ visualize Collections working. I _think_ it's pretty close to how Tim is thinking, but given some previous guesses that were wildly off, I'm not making any guarantees.

24> Yes, if you only need 'things with this tag', anything that won't screw up a URL will work fine. The searching is necessary if you want to find 'things _without_ this tag' - I have all my tags that mean 'not-owned' (borrowed, discarded, read at bookstore) marked with @ so if I search for tags:-@* I can see all the books that I actually own. So for your purposes, the } works fine.

Jun 24, 2008, 5:08pm

12: I've done exactly the same thing. I tag books with "category, category : subcategory, category : subcategory : subsubcategory" rather than "category, subcategory, subsubcategory". I would prefer the latter because it's more succinct, but then the list of tags is disordered.

As it is, my list of tags is awkward but ordered (well enough -- there's still the alphabetical issue):
category_1 : subcategory_11
category_1 : subcategory_11 : subsubcategory_111
category_1 : subcategory_11 : subsubcategory_112
category_1 : subcategory_12
category_1 : subcategory_12 : subsubcategory_121
category_2 : subcategory_21

I would prefer to see:

I could get approximately and awkwardly what I want with a numbering system, which would be ordered though difficult to read (and which would require me to think about the order more carefully), but then my tags would never match anyone else's tags (not that they do now, except at the highest level):
100 category_1
110 subcategory_11
111 subsubcategory_111
112 subsubcategory_112
120 subcategory_12
121 subsubcategory_121
200 category_2
210 subcategory_21

The issue for me is actually not that I want LT to know how I logically group my books, but that I want my tags displayed on the tag page in a particular order that I can control (with the same order in the book list).

Jun 24, 2008, 5:21pm

The point about displaying relationships between tags is different from the idea of designing hierarchical tags, because in the former, we're just requesting that we be able to *see* relationships that already exist: i.e. what other tags I'm using for books I've tagged X.
Now, seeing that, of course, could also help with organizing tags in a hierarchical way, but the request i had was simply about having a "related tags" display - something like the one on this and other tag pages (http://www.librarything.com/tag/literature), but only for *my* library, i.e. where the relationships are only for my tags of my books. So it's not about creating something new called "related tags" but simply about displaying those that are already related to each other in my library (something that's already done on a site-wide basis).

On collections: I hope collections is open-ended enough to accommodate various ways of using it and creating user-generated collections (and not just set collections), so that we can use set collections like currently reading, wishlist etc. but also create others, as we want, for "borrowed from library," "at mom's house," "read but do not own," "kid's books," and - if individual users want, "history" or "fiction" or whatever.

Edited: Dec 5, 2008, 8:03am

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Jun 25, 2008, 9:56am

#19 Thanks for the research! . used to search ok, but appears not to anymore. I know have to re-tag all my authors with ! instead. grrr.

Jun 25, 2008, 2:00pm

#15, countrylife, As I wrote in the thread countrylife referenced,

"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."

I wrote that in November 2006, and I would still (or even more) love to be able to do it.

Jun 25, 2008, 4:24pm

This would be such a wonderful feature. I'd never thought about it until looking at this thread, but now that the seed's been planted, I want it:) It would make so many things possible.
Just imagine: I click on the tag "history" and easily see that my history collection leans heavily toward "architecture," on the one hand, and "American society," on the other, with strong showings by "dystopias" and "globalization" as well. Or I could see that "human ecology" brings together my books on "building technology" and "corporatism," which could be useful if I'm wondering what to read next. Or, I could pull up my "wishlist" tag and see what sorts of books I've been coveting. Clicking on a tag in the tag cloud would lead me to a tag-mash: "history+architecture", for example, or "wishlist+sustainability."

>5 timspalding: Right. In theory, this is doable, but what's the UI for it?
I imagine the UI would be on the tag page, changing the menu that pops up when you hover over a tag to: edit | tag page | related tags, where "related tags" pulls up a sort of personal tag cloud for that tag in your library, either in a lightbox or as another page.

>27 rsterling: The point about displaying relationships between tags is different from the idea of designing hierarchical tags, because in the former, we're just requesting that we be able to *see* relationships that already exist
Exactly. Although I understand why people tag hierarchically (I've toyed with the idea, although it seems like too much work), hierarchy does seem kind of antithetical to the idea of tagging. (To use Tim's well-worn example, there's no reason for France to be a subset of history, or vice versa.) But hierarchical systems do grant a great deal of functionality that tagging can only rival by capitalizing on its strength: the combined power of small bits of data.
I cringe a little when I see tags like "category: subcategory: subsubcategory," because in truth that's three separate tags. But I understand why they're useful, especially if you're focusing on how your own library is organized rather than on how it connects to others'. LibraryThing's been very much on the cutting edge about maximizing the potential of tags site-wide (innovations like the tag-mirror come to mind), but tags are still relatively limited within one's own catalog.

Jun 25, 2008, 5:11pm

31: To use Tim's well-worn example, there's no reason for France to be a subset of history, or vice versa.

In the world at large (if a system of specific categories were to be designed for use by everyone), I'd agree with this. In my own world/mind, I might well be interested in all things French including history, or in all things historical including France -- I would not necessarily consider the two categories equally significant. Also, I think it's not unreasonable to view biology and physics as subsets of science.

31: I cringe a little when I see tags like "category: subcategory: subsubcategory," because in truth that's three separate tags. But I understand why they're useful, especially if you're focusing on how your own library is organized rather than on how it connects to others'.

I also cringe, more than a little, and I completely agree that it's three separate tags. It is precisely _because_ I cringe, and _because_ it's three separate tags, that I'd like to see improved tag features (at least the ability order tags, though ideally something more sophisticated). I joined LT to organize my own library. (And really, I'd've paid the $25 lifetime membership fee for only that.) The social stuff was an unexpected extra. The more I see of the social/connection features, the more I am interested in them. But so long as I have to make a choice, I care more about seeing an overview of my books, and the tag page is where it's at. Most of my books fall into about half a dozen major categories, and I don't want to search for these tags in a list of over a hundred less important tags.

Edited: Dec 5, 2008, 8:07am

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Jun 30, 2008, 1:08pm

Sounds like a great idea. This would be a very useful feature for me. Actually, it would accomplish some of the things I was hoping to do with a Collections feature (though not everything). In fact, in many ways it would be a much easier/better way to navigate my library than having to create "collections," as it could be done on-the-fly, and with any tag.

I'd love to see something like this!!

Jul 1, 2008, 1:29am

Oh, yes please. I haven't gone the category:subcategory tagging route, but I was sorely tempted there for a while. Related and/or hierarchical tags would be SO useful.

Jul 1, 2008, 1:49am

My vote doesn't count any more than anybody else, but I cast mine for hierarchical tags. I've used them in Lightroom and I love them. Especially combined with their "virtual" tags (tag aliases).

Jul 1, 2008, 4:42am

Some of my books are in a sort of heirarchical tag system, but I have several tags that cut across the heirarchies. Having an organized heirarchical system might have advantages, but only it if has multidimensional capabilities. What I dream of is to be able to pull all my Iceland books from the travel, cookbook, literature, and textile sections of my library, but still have them sorted into those areas.

Edited: Jul 1, 2008, 3:05pm

Hey, as long as there is an "opt out", I'm all for it. lol

My tags are not in any hierarchical order, and I like it that way. They are basically in the order in which I added each tag, which is how I like it. As long as the tag order doesn't go changing willy-nilly because of some new feature, then... yeah.

(and fyi, I'm saying this with very little knowledge of what exactly "hierarchical tags" would be.)

Jul 1, 2008, 5:42pm

36: It's good to see a LT developer enter into this discussion and mention an existing example. I was unaware of Lightroom. A quick search didn't provide many details, but did get to various forum discussions about organizing photos that might be useful to read when I've got the time, for ideas about both the UI and the resulting structure.

37: Me too. I'd be shuffling my books around for awhile because many wouldn't fit into nice neat categories. I'd assume that hierarchical categories would still allow books to have multiple tags just as they do now. My current tags are preliminary. I've made an attempt offline to revise (because I enjoy this sort of thing), but it's a daunting task (and I don't want to get so bogged down that I never get all of my books into LT). My hope for hierarchical tags would not be that I'd eliminate all clutter and ambiguity, but that I'd eliminate a fair proportion of it, and also have a tool for thinking.

38: This is more about the library as a whole, not individual books (though the tag order for individual books might become an issue). Your "very little knowledge of what exactly hierarchical tags would be" is the general state of things. It's an idea, and not well defined, and so far LT has not officially taken up the cause -- too immersed in other features at the moment (and who knows, the work on collections may be relevant).

Edited: Jul 6, 2008, 6:50am

My hope for tags is that we could get a list over the tagstrings (hierarchical) that we have in own library.
I opened a bookbox from my storage and had to go trough my whole library and write out sides to get the hierarchical system on print to see how I had done it before. (It was 18 pages A4 written out.)

It would have been so much easier to just have a list of the tagstings on your tagsite.

Jul 7, 2008, 4:26am

Yeah. I now realize that I offered no examples as to how h-tags work. I think I've written a couple of long posts about them before but I'll try my hand at it again. I'll use Lightroom as a good example (although they didn't invent hierarchical tags nor were they the first-to-market) because they have the best UI for them so far (that I've seen).

Lightroom is Adobe's RAW image editing and cataloging tool. It was originally targeted at serious photographers who do a lot of shooting (I have a third of my photos in LR and have 4,000 photographs tagged).

Their tagging structure is very similar to LT's. You just tag items with single tags like "WWII" or "Christopher" or "France." Their UI then allows you to organize your tags much like you do a folder structure on your harddrive. By doing this you create tag "trees" that give your tags a hierarchical order. You can also create the trees manually by tagging something with a complete path with delimiters between the tags like so:

Each of these tags can also have numerous aliases, so anything tagged with Greece would also be considered to be tagged with Hellas for instance. Searching for either would find the item. Likewise, searching for Greece will find all of the items tagged with Acropolis (because after the hierarchies are made then you can simply use the lowest level for which an item matches and the system knows the structure above that is inferred). Of course, the catch with this sort of system is that there can't be an "Acropolis" tag under "Greece" and "Cyprus" at the same time. That's a minor issue when you consider the fact that each member would have their own set of hierarchies and you could always vary the term slightly to make it unique:
Greece>Athenian Acropolis
Cyprus>Korion Acropolis

And honestly, we could probably figure out a way around that if we felt the need.

We already have some idea of tag aliases here because tags can be combined, although it is only at the global level.

It's much easier for LR to deal with tag aliases and hierarchies because they are only dealing with a single user. We deal with half a MILLION of them but that isn't something that would keep us from using hierarchical tags if it came to that.

The great thing about h-tags is that if you don't want to use them then you just don't. Tags are treated exactly the same.

Jul 7, 2008, 9:16am

41: I vote YES! (Thanks for the description. Sorry you've had to repeat. I've been out of the LT loop for awhile, this thread was current when I returned, and I didn't dig around for others.)

Jul 7, 2008, 6:03pm

Droooooollll... The problem you pointed out would be a slight hitch for me (I've got, specifically, Historical Fiction and Historical Romance that I have to tag separately (Historical and Romance:Historical at the moment)) but it would be no worse than now and the rest sounds _wonderful_. Someday...can this be the next 'dream feature' after Collections come out?

Jul 10, 2008, 8:53am

Well, I doubt it. Tim has said that he's not too keen on h-tags. They're just one of my pet features that I'd love to have. But you never know how things are going to work out (and neither do I).

Jul 10, 2008, 9:01am

44: What's the objection to hierarchical tags?

Nov 23, 2008, 10:27pm

Hierarchical tags on LT would be *divine*. I'm still holding out hope.

Nov 24, 2008, 4:01pm

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Nov 24, 2008, 4:20pm

Coincidence: last week I signed up for the first time to LibraryThing. Today I find myself on this page because of a Google search for "hierarchical tags" - born of utter, broken-hearted frustration that hierarchical tags aren't yet available for bookmarks in Firefox.

My tuppen'orth: do, for the sanity of your users, adopt hierarchical tags quickly. A flat hierarchy creates extra work for users, both in avoiding redundancy (why tag London, Britain & Europe when you can tag just London?) and distinguishing between semantically different tags (do you mean orange the colour or orange the only fruit?)

Nov 24, 2008, 4:29pm

I'm not convinced. A lot of my tagging is set up heirarchically in my brain, but the lower levels don't just belong to one section of the heirarchy.

For example: I have 15 books tagged Africa. But the top tags for those books are: Theology, Travel, History, Biography, Food, Fiction.

My theology heirarchy has a section for 'Women in the church', but I have added that tag to lots of books that are in other parts of the heirarchy.

OK, every book I tag Vienna has to also be tagged Austria, so it comes up on a general Austria search, but it isn't that difficult to add the extra tag.

Nov 24, 2008, 4:37pm


Partly because most hierarchies are not as clear as the concocted geographical examples people always bring up. Does a book about French history go under History > France or France > History?

Also, if you're brokenhearted about anything to do with a web browser, count yourself fortunate that your troubles are so small. ;)