The Tyranny of Tagging

blogtagcloudsmDave Lee is noticing a pervasive, annoying issue for anyone who has advanced from experimenting with social tagging to depending upon it.  In de.lic.ious and my folksonomy he complains about how searches of his tags weren’t showing some of his bookmarks, because his personal tagging strategy is inconsistent:

in my listing of web 2.0 titles, some were tagged with “web2.0”, others tagged “web-2.0”, yet others tagged “web_2.0”, and even a few were tagged “web20”.  links to content on informal learning  was tagged either “informal-learning”, “informal_learning”, or “informallearning.”  and it wasn’t just inconsistent filling in of spaces.  did i tag the content i was looking for as “workplace learning” or “organizational learning”?  or was it “thebigquestion” or “tbq”? “learningcircuitsblog” or “lcb”?

As Dave notes, this a pain for individuals keeping track of  their  own bookmarks, but gets even more complicated when one would like to know what *other* people are bookmarking under these concepts.

It is issues like this one which we believe make the case for organizations interested in leveraging the advantages of Web 2.0 technology from within a coherent platform like Q2’s xPERT eCampus.  Our app permits individuals to create their own tags, but we also make it possible for the manager of a site to pre-load tags of special interest to the organization.  This way, when somebody wants to tag a post so that it’s easily searchable by other participants by that tag, they don’t have to wonder whether the preferred organizational tag usage is “Sales_Goals”  “sales_goals” “salesgoals” or “Harry’s_harebrained_notions_of_what’s_possible_this_quarter”.  The manager-supplied preferred tag is included in the list suggested to them when they go to tag the response.

We also permit participants to share their tags.

We think organizations can profit from being open to the out-of-box thinking of rest of the wild world of the web, but need not become slaves to the free-for-all.  A way to manage a controlled vocabulary in parallel with an open one is just one way we embed that philosophy in our product.