Tag chaos

As part of the SLIC/CILIPS Web 2.0 experimentation, the Information Team has been looking at the process of tagging in social networking sites. When we first approached tagging, we thought that our cataloguing skills would be useful but quickly realised this was not entirely the case. The lack of consistency and control in the world of tags left us reeling!

Undeterred, we started to experiment with different approaches and came to the conclusion that some tagging guidelines would be helpful, at an organisational level at least. After much deliberation and procrastination, we’ve now battered out a final draft and would welcome any feedback or suggestions.

The process of compiling guidelines has left us with many questions and few definite answers. How should librarians approach tagging? Can guidelines work at a community, if not global, level? Should user-generated tags be incorporated into catalogue records? On a practical level, how should tags be constructed? Should we favor US spellings, ditch capital letters and insert underscores? Let us know what you think.

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2 Responses

  1. You raise an interesting point about the inconsistencies between American and British English and how these should be tackled. On a worldwide level, it seems reasonable now to consider English a lingua franca of the internet. Where to fall on the argument about spelling differences between its two most dominant forms is a thorny issue. The internet is an American invention, and most innovation, in delivering web content and technology seems to eminate from her West Coast, such that American English has gained a very prominent position in the wider world.

    Nonetheless. as speakers of British English, we balk at the thought of having to write American spellings ourselves – though it is becoming harder to avoid doing so – html tags like [align-centre] or [colour] do nothing, as web rendering engines can only ‘see’ their American cousins.

    I think the solution for this, could be managed quite easily, if software that parses tag searches is taught that favor and favour; color and colour; y’all and you etc. are one and the same. Whether or not American content providers bother to include such is a different matter altogether.

  2. I think your comment is valid and something librarians the world over, specifically cataloguers, argue day in day out. If only these tagging networks had thought of using an age old concept such as cross referencing, indexing or controlled vocabularies the world would be so much more…organised.

    Americans may not give a jot about international grammar differences, schemes such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings quite happily refer to football as soccer and pavement as sidewalk and we as standards abiding librarians usually have to put up.

    By coincidence my grammar check has just told me the word organised is incorrect….obviously some USA centric software systems developers don’t care, should we follow the pack or celebrate all the nuances of an ever evolving international language?

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