Tag Heirarchy

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Tag Heirarchy

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Jul 23, 2008, 3:05pm

I would love to see a tag heirarchy. I would like to click on a tag, say 'fiction', and then see the tags that were listed with that tag, like 'historical', and then tags under historical, like 'American Revolution'. This way I could find tags under tags to narrow down my search for books about a particular subject. Another example would be click on 'China' then get a list of tags under that like 'ancient', 'food', 'culture', 'politics' and then click on 'ancient' and get tags 'inventions', 'dynasty','writing'.

This is how I thought the tags were going to work and I am disappointed that you can really only get one level of tags. I realize I can do a search with several tags, but that does not really show me what I might have in common with a particular tag.

Jul 23, 2008, 3:11pm

It sounds like what you're actually after is a faceted search and not a hierarchy -- that is, your "food" tag isn't a subset of your "China" tag in any way that's attached to the book record; rather, you want to be able to drill down to a subset of your "China" results to find "food", or for that matter start with "food" and refine from there to "China", right?

In that case, OH MY GODS YES!!

Jul 23, 2008, 3:51pm

I don't see "china" and "food" as being hierarchical, since the direction can go either way:



Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you're wanting to be able to look at all tags used on a particular subset of books? That is, "find all tags that I use on a book I have also tagged "china"?

Jul 23, 2008, 3:52pm

1: This is an issue that's been discussed before, with variations. Some sort of tag hierarchy / bundling is my #1 wish for LT, enough so that I've starred talk threads in which it has been mentioned (sometimes as the focus, sometimes as a digression) so I can keep track. In general, it seems that the flatness of the current tag system is the frustration, but from there different people take off in different directions with suggestions for improvement. The status so far as I can tell is that LT folks are aware of the interest, and conceptDawg is an advocate, but there will be higher priorities for awhile (as well as specifics to consider when time allows).


Jul 23, 2008, 5:02pm

3: True. In my library, I have tags of equal importance that intersect, and tags that are always subsets of other tags. An ideal system would somehow allow multiple arrangements. What is less than ideal is the current system in which the tags are displayed alphabetically (China, culture, food, history, India, Mexico) without any indication of the library organization. Aside from the visual issue (an overview of the library, not just prominent themes as in the tag cloud but how things fit together), finding books has become difficult because I have too many tags to remember or scan quickly (partly because of, and partly despite, my efforts to adjust to the alphabetical order by creating icky (and anti-social) tags with the form category : subcategory).

Jul 23, 2008, 5:25pm

*bounces about 2*

Jul 23, 2008, 5:32pm

I seriously love facets. And have a sudden craving for Chinese food.

Jul 23, 2008, 8:34pm


You realize you can put tags in any order you want, right? Alphabetical is an option, not a requirement.

Jul 23, 2008, 8:43pm

8: I can put them in the order I want for each book, and I've done so. The tags page options are alphabetical or frequency.

Jul 24, 2008, 9:56am

Yes, maybe heirarchy is the wrong word, but you definitely got the idea. This was the primary reason I thought I would use LT so I could find books spread out in all kinds of subjects but with information (fiction and non) on the subject we are studying.

I can still do it with the search feature but it would be so much more valuable with the tags.

Jul 24, 2008, 11:02am

Well, I get the feeling that Tim has an idea, a philosophy even, of what tags are and structure is the exact opposite of it.

Edited: Jul 24, 2008, 11:51am

I'm an advocate not so much of creating a hierarchical tag structure, but of enabling better ways of viewing the relationships between tags, and of pulling up the results of overlapping subsets (think of Venn diagrams). This would keep the same free-floating, flexible nature of tags, but allow you to see relationships and overlaps between them -- whether you conceived of the relationship between two tags as hierarchical (set and subset), or as two horizontally equivalent sets, or whatever else. I've also chimed in on this on a couple of other threads, but what I have in mind is either something like the "related tags" section of the tag pages on LT, except where it would only show relations between my tags and for my books (so something like a personalized tag page in addition to the site-wide tag page), or else something like what del.icio.us does. (In del.icio.us, when you click on a tag, it shows you your bookmarks with that tag, but it also has a section on that page called "related tags," which includes tags that overlap with the tag you just selected (i.e. you have items tagged with both of them), and you can click on a plus sign next to the related tags to see things tagged with both tags.)

I'm not necessarily against the hierarchical idea in principle, and I can see that it might have some advantages, but I like to use tags that overlap with multiple other tags: so, rather than have an 18th century philosophy and an 18th century literature tag (subsets of philosophy and literature, respectively), I have a tag for literature, one for philosophy, and one for 18th century. Sometimes I want to look at only lit+18c, sometimes only phil+18c, but sometimes I want to look at everything 18c, so it's not logically a subset of either of the other 2 categories. And I'd also like to be able more easily to see the overlap between tags like philosophy and, say, nationalism, where neither is a subset of the other. (I know you can do some of this to a limited extent with the search function, but it's not very precise, and it gets very complicated for more than 2 search terms.)

edited for typos

Edited: Jul 24, 2008, 12:05pm

>12 rsterling:
I agree with you. While I would love, for example, to have my travel books bundled and then subgrouped by destination, I'll have trouble should I ever acquire a travel book for, say, Chicago (because Devil in the White City is about Chicago, but is definitely not a travel book). Even given my library in its present state, I would have second thoughts about making my London tag a subunit of my travel tag; my opinion may change when I read Peter Ackroyd's London, but I always thought it was a history book rather than a travel guide.

</rant><threadjacking> (Sorry about that!)
Edited for HTML typo

Jul 24, 2008, 5:00pm

Well...if it's threadjacking, it happened a lot farther up. This thread, like most requests for structural tag changes, has turned into 'Comparative Philosophy of Tagging' - ie, "Well, I use my tags like this and it would be neat if it went like that...". Which is fun, and maybe even useful in the long term. If Tim & Co do ever decide to modify tags, they will have a _lot_ of data on the way people actually use tags and would like to be able to use them - quite a bit conflicting, but still.

Jul 24, 2008, 8:04pm

12: Ooh, I'd love to have a Venn diagram of my library. Even better than strict hierarchy, because as you say some sets may partially intersect, and some may be entirely contained. One question might be which comes first -- the logical structure, or the tags. Do you create a tag, place it in a diagram, and then whenever you use that tag all subsuming tags are automatically added? (e.g. If you create a hierarchy of science > biology and tag a book with "biology", do you get the "science" tag automatically?) Do you tag books, and then a diagram is constructed dynamically? (e.g. If you tag a bunch of books with "biology, biography", "biology, textbook", "math, biography", "math, textbook", do you get a 2D grid with rows of biology|math and columns of biography|textbook? (Now, imagine 3D... e.g. China|India and history|literature and ancient|modern)) Gets really complicated really quickly. Still, any ability to organize tags would be an improvement. And presumably, the folks who are happy with tags as they are wouldn't have to do anything different. Anyway... Idle chat at the moment, because an actual feature seems to be in the distant future.

14: Yeah, guilty as charged. An issue that I care about, and I'm hoping for "useful in the long term". I'm also interested in other people's "philosophy of tagging", even if LT doesn't change.