"Auto-tagging" - Take existing tags to tag your books

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"Auto-tagging" - Take existing tags to tag your books

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1wonderer First Message
Dec 19, 2006, 3:28pm

The subject says it all.

Let's say I would like to know what are my most often used tags in my collection, but I have got 2000 books and I don't feel like tagging them all to find out what are my most used tags, the words that "define" who I am (or at least, what I'm interested in reading).

Hence "Auto-tagging", that is, to grab the tags that others have already assigned to a book and tag your whole collection from them.

As this feature of auto-tagging is not available at the moment, has anybody programmed any sort of automated script, Greasemonkey, perl script... that does this task?

2fyrefly98
Dec 19, 2006, 5:58pm

I vaguely remember Tim being against this, although I can't remember where that impression comes from.

I think the idea is if people don't individual enter tags, and enough people just start automatically adding the most popular tags for a book, then eventually the fact that those tags are the most popular becomes less meaningful. It's sort of a case of a swarming mob effect and the few deciding for the many whether Dune counts as fantasy or sci-fi (for example), instead of the mob democratically deciding for itself through individual tagging.

But, again, that's not an official answer, just my impression.

3readafew
Dec 20, 2006, 8:29am

So you want others to make the words that "define" who you are? Now sometimes I wouldn't mind haveing a dropdown list of the 5-10 most common tags I've used with maybe after selecting one getting the 5-10 most common used with the first one selected

4reading_fox
Dec 20, 2006, 8:46am

Don't forget you can power edit them so you don't need to individually afix tags against every book.

you want other people to define who you are? Wouldn't ou rather do that for yourself?

if you enter the tags as you add the work it doens't rack up as quite such an ardeous chore.

5rebeccanyc
Dec 20, 2006, 9:27am

There have already been several discussions of how to make tagging easier, for example http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=951 and http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=3597 and probably elsewhere too. There seems to be a general sense tagging needs to be made easier, but little consensus about how to do it in a way that would be easy to use but also easy for Tim et al. to set up.

PS As reading-fox (#4 says), I didn't enter tags at first, because it seemed daunting, but then I started entering them as I entered books, and it became easier. As I go along, I fine-tune them too.

6hailelib
Dec 20, 2006, 9:28am

Especially if you add them in batches that use the same tag(s). The tag box on the Add Books page is 'sticky' and you can add a dozen with the same tag without retyping them. But you have to add a batch and then edit them.

7YorickBrown
Jan 10, 2007, 10:06pm

I would really like to see a list of my own tags when I'm tagging new books. I always forget things like whether I'm using the tag "20th Century" or not, and whether I'm using "Fantasy and Science Fiction" or "Science Fiction and Fantasy." I'd like to be able to keep my own system consistent.

8ryn_books
Jan 11, 2007, 6:14pm

I'm with all others my own tags to come up easier. By autofill choice or suggestions or whatever. Anything to reduce having to check my own tags and redo almost-duplicate tag mistakes.

I do not want other people tags in any suggestions when I'm adding my tags for my own books.

9wonderer
Jan 25, 2007, 1:05am

It shows that there'd be the implicit fear that by allowing autotagging, tags would decrease its quality.

2 things here.

1 - People who don't care about tagging, wouldn't tag anyway. So autotagging wouldn't prevent him from tagging what they would have never done.
2 - If 1000 people autotagged using the tags that only 100 cared to input, that would have absolutely *NO* effect on the quality of the tags used to describe the books. Statistics speaking.

As only the top 5 most used tags would be used to autotag, and those would be actually the best tags agreed by the minority who care to tag, it would actually be that minority who would still hold the AUTHORITY to properly describe a book.

There you go.

10melannen
Jan 25, 2007, 1:49am

But there are plenty of books where the top five tags would be *all* the tags.

That problem with most people not tagging, again.

And then you have one person putting in a bad or questionable tag, and the next 100 people who input that book picking it up without thinking about it.

Not to mention the remaining issue that even *if* autotagging didn't alter the top tags for a book, it would still reduce the incentive for people to come up with their own tags. So somebody who, on their own, might use the tag "dogs biting people aauuugh!" might instead settle for the common tag "animal attacks", since it's easier to autotag and it's peer-pressure-approved.

And then LT would be deprived of the much more descriptive "dogs biting people aauuugh!" tag in its database. And that would be sad. Because it would be less total information in the system. Statistically speaking is fine, but what individual quirky people have to say is just as useful, and LT gives us both.

...the most common tags will still come up for people who just want to know about the book, or see other books with similar tags. But what's the point of tagging in your own library if you don't go for tags that are the most meaningful for *you* and the way you think about your books? You might as well just use the LOC subjects then.

I'd be all for autofill based on your own previous tags though, says the person who has to periodically go through her tag cloud to reconcile the plurals.

11serph
Jan 27, 2007, 4:36pm

I just suggested more-or-less the same thing under the topic, "Inputting Tags." Sorry that I didn't find these posts when I searched the topic!

12Existanai
Edited: Feb 4, 2007, 10:01pm

I'm all for auto-tagging. Classifying, uploading etc. is fun but sometimes you just want to save time, especially if you have a large library.

13debweiss First Message
Feb 10, 2007, 3:08pm

It would *definitely* be helpful to have this feature. It's not about someone else defining who I am, but how many different ways can I tag about book about learning Hebrew, for example? I would love to just take those tags from people who share my books and have already done the work. I now tag books as I enter them, but my original library was created from importing a list of ~ 4000 books that didn't have tags on them, and I'm desperately trying to catch up.

I would submit that there's a certain non-trivial percentage of tags that do not need a creative interpretation. Reference books, etc. I don't think it's a crime to "conform" in terms of those tags, and of course i can always add another tag or change the existing tag once i've done that. I could even take a tag from another user who shares 30 of my books, and then do power edit and change the tags entirely! And that would be a lot easier than having to find those books in my library, assemble them in a list that makes sense, and then tag them via power edit.

That will leave a lot of spare time for us to exercise our creativity on coming up with new, individualistic tags for our other books ;)

You can see I'm pretty passionate about this--Please PLEASE give us this feature!

14rebeccanyc
Feb 10, 2007, 3:13pm

I have long asked for a simpler way to tag, but only to add the tags I want. I do NOT automatically want the top 5 or whatever tags for a work to appear; I use tags to suit my needs and they may or may not conform to what others use. If I want to see what others have done, I can click on the social link.

15PossMan
Edited: Feb 10, 2007, 3:29pm

When I enter a book and then add the tags I have often felt I would like to see what others have used - sometimes when I look at other people's tags for a book I have I think "YES — that's sums it up exactly". And then use it myself. So, yes, when I'm adding books I would love a way of seeing the 'top 20' before I add my own. But I would hate to add tags automatically. And although most of the tags I apply are straightforward ('history'; 'reference'; 'novel' etc) I also sometimes use tags which are 'me specific' to indicate a book was a gift, a complimentary copy, remaindered, second-hand etc. Assuming others do the same these tags could play havoc with an automatic system. As rebeccanyc points out users apply tags to suit their own purposes. If I use 'York' as a tag that would imply to me that it was about York. But some time ago I read a post by a person who would use such a tag to imply it was bought in York. Not the same thing at all.

16myshelves
Feb 13, 2007, 7:34pm

I'm a little confused. Some of the posts here seem to suggest that if you saw a list of tags you'd be forced to select one of them. Surely that could be avoided.

I read some of the fiction in my library 40 years ago. I sometimes look at the social page tags to try to find a reminder about the plot. :-)

17jjwilson61
Feb 13, 2007, 7:40pm

What's confusing? The first post in the list suggests that you be able to auto-tag all your tag-less books based on what other people have used. The suggestion wasn't just to see a list of tags, after all, you can do that now.

18myshelves
Feb 13, 2007, 8:06pm

#17
Ok. Later posts were confusing to me, in that some said that they'd like to see a list of their own tags as suggestions but NOT other people's tags. They didn't seem to me to be talking about auto-tagging.

I wouldn't use auto-tagging. But I'd like a fill-in (subject to manual override) from my existing tags when I type the beginning. When you are trying to list thousands of books, typing out something like "science fiction and fantasy" or "American Revolution" gets to be a pain. I'd also like a drop down of tags used for the book, from which I could select if I liked.

19jjwilson61
Feb 13, 2007, 8:28pm

I agree a pull-down of your existing tags would help you to keep your tags consistent as well.

20arkem First Message
Dec 24, 2007, 5:49am

I would really like to see an auto-tagging feature. It could be an opt-in kind of deal so that you don't have to have your books auto-tagged.

Failing that I would like to see a search option that allows me to search within my library based on other people's tags (even if my books were tagged completely differently). First of all it would be good in situations where I hadn't tagged my books but it would also be a good comparison to easily compare my idea of 'cyberpunk' to the group's idea.

21quiltartist First Message
Dec 26, 2007, 7:20pm

I find the easiest way to be consistent with tags is to make a list, like LOC subject headings, but smaller in scale!
When you add a new tag, just add it to the list. You can always check your profile for the tags you have used. The last thing I would want is to use someone else's tags.
I always add tags when I enter the book, saves a lot of backtracking. I will check out the information in Message 6 about entering items with the same tag.

22BOB81
Dec 26, 2007, 9:09pm

I'd like a 'Your tags' list to choose from.

23Heather19
Dec 26, 2007, 10:20pm

A quick work-around, or at least, this is the way I do it: I have my tags up in another window, and have both that window and the catalogue window at half-size, so I can put them right next to each other and see the tags list while I'm changing tags in my catalogue.

24msabo
Feb 28, 2009, 5:59pm

I just joined the site and was looking for exactly this type of feature. After importing a few hundred books I would like to be able to browse them at least by genre without having to tag them myself. Isn't there something inherent in the book information that could be used as an auto tag without negatively biasing the tags? Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress etc?

25Annix
Edited: Mar 1, 2009, 4:24am

>1 wonderer:
Well, if you only want to see how others tag your collection of books, without necessarily attaching those tags to your own library, then rejoice – that feature already exists! There is the tag mirror under Profile > Clouds > Tag mirror. Read more about it in this blog post. It is possible to click an individual tag in the tag mirror cloud to see a list of those of your books that have been tagged in that way by other users.

26whimsicalkitten
Mar 1, 2009, 10:05am

I'd also love a way to easily see the tags that I've used so that I don't use variations of the same concept. I suggested this quite awhile ago, when I first started using LT. Remeber being told that despite the popularity of the feature, it wasn't going to happen because Tim believes that it would stifle creativity and he is dead-set against anything that does that (sort of the anti-LCSH position) - or at least that's what I recall. In its own way, this seems as stifling as the imposition of an authorized set of tags such as the LCSH - only IMO

27jjwilson61
Mar 1, 2009, 11:08am

I don't believe Tim has ever opposed auto-filling of your own tags. However, it hasn't managed to rise to the top of new features to implement yet.

28xtofersdad
Mar 1, 2009, 2:14pm

>26 whimsicalkitten:

You can easily see the tags you've used to date by clicking on the Tags folder in the top menu bar.

I regularly go through mine and prune out ones I was originally too enthusiastic about or ones I've mispelt; I also consolidate singular with plurals or vice versa and have tried to standardise the way in which I refer to the centuries (eg 13th C, not 13C) or to individuals or places.

However these are my preferences and so I personally wouldn't support a need for auto completion, even with my own range. Besides it doesn't take long to do at least three tags per book - (maybe more) - and it makes you think about what the book is about.

29staffordcastle
Mar 1, 2009, 5:19pm

I find it helpful to open the Tags page in another tab or window, so I can flip back and forth between the cataloging window and the tags list. Since I have a huge number of tags in use, a drop-down list of them would actually not be very helpful. :-(

30PortiaLong
Mar 1, 2009, 5:41pm

AH! but what if your could "group" your tags?
Genre tags
Subject tags
Location tags
etc.

Then you could select
Genre
-- Sci-Fi
-- Fantasy
-- Horror
etc.
Subject
--Aliens
--Demons
Location
--@Living Room
--@Kitchen
Ownership Status
--!library
--!Family/Friend borrowed
--!loaned out
BookMooch
--Mooched-Away
--Mooched-In
--Moochable

Then you could pick a "heading" and select your tags out from under it (allowing for multiple choosings of course).

I would be an advocate of being able to select from your own tags for consistancy (I am constantly having to "clean up" my tags list).

I'm not really interested in being able to select from other's tags. I see why some folks want it but I agree with Tim that being forced to select how you consider a work has its benefits. I guess I would say that I think this adds to the "depth" of the metadata the tags are reflecting.

31MerryMary
Mar 2, 2009, 12:27am

Besides, if you truly want to know what tags someone else used for a book, you can see it in the main entry for that book.

32rsterling
Mar 2, 2009, 12:50am

For now, power editing is the way to go. Just search for subject: science fiction, or for that matter science fiction in any field, and then use power edit to tag all the results. If you make subject classification visible in your catalog, you can scan a few pages and see what labels seem useful to you, then use search and power edit to tag them.
It's not automatic, but it means you choose which are relevant to you. You probably wouldn't want every single subject classification, since some of them can be a bit off. (They're particularly off when you don't use a library source to add your books, since then LT just has to guess classifications based on all the copies here, which can include classifications from libraries all over the world. My amazon-added copy of Kate Chopin's Awakening, for example, has a LONG and repetitive list of subject classifications, including Kuṇḍalinī, which may be correct in some language, but which I wouldn't want automatically entered as a tag for my own library.)

So, I'd suggest a combination of searching your library for subject classifications or key terms in the titles, browsing the tag mirror (a good suggestion someone made above), and then using power edit.

In a way, actually, what it sounds like would be useful is a "subject classifications cloud" -- I'll admit that would be fun to have, but probably very messy, since LOC subjects are often several words long, and hierarchical to boot.

33rebeccanyc
Mar 2, 2009, 8:22am

#30, PortiaLong, I love the idea of grouplng tags and actually asked for it back in 2006 in this thread. There I wrote:

"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:

Science
biodiversity, biogeography, developmental biology, ecology, geology, mathematics

Languages
French, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish

The headings wouldn't have to be tags themselves, just an organizing tool."

I still think it's a good idea!