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  1. Kaitlin says:

    My blog is the first one you mention regarding oral history + folklore. I would like to clarify that I use tags in order to create more detail about the post. I use categories so visitors to my site can search for posts that way and find all related posts. My list of tags is much longer than my list of categories.

    In these references, oral tradition is different than oral history, which is also different from folklore.

    Perhaps a tutorial on how to use tags vs. categories would benefit bloggers. And then it can get us closer to your goal of connected information and posts.

  2. Kaitlin,

    I completely agree with all you say. What you clarify is exactly the way tags and categories should be used (at least in their present technology). The thing that I’m looking at is the picture of knowledge across all of UMWBlogs. Across many blogs, one person’s category might be another person’s tag. So within a single blog, categories and tags work great. But across many blogs, they lose their utility for discovering possibly related posts. So I’m not criticizing your (or anyone else’s) use of tags and categories at all. I’m digging into fundamental limitations of tags and categories themselves.

    So, while guidance about tagging/categorizing might be helpful, the real issue I see is not in how people use them, it’s right in their nature.

    Similarly, the “bonus fail” isn’t a fail on your part at all — they all go to the feed at, not umwblogs. If that’s you’re intent, that’s all good — as a blogger, it’s a choice that’s entirely yours in how your blog works. Again, the thing I’m poking at is how useful tags/categories are for helping UMW students and faculty discover common interests.

    And yes, I definitely see that all three are different. But they also overlap, yes? Your post, I think, is a great example of how they could come together.

  3. Jim says:

    I personally love the idea of a pre-populated set of tags/categories for specific courses. I think that would be most useful, and would actually make a tag cloud somewhat useful—for as it is now it is just far too big to be useful at all.

  4. Jim,

    Nope! not talkin’ tag clouds or pre-populated sets (unless you count Wikipedia as the pre-populated set. And it’s not the bigness that makes it not useful; it’s the basic nature of ad-hoc blog-specific tax/folksonomy that makes them not useful.

  5. Scott Leslie says:

    IMO, the best of both worlds is through the “auto suggest” features you see in many tag driven sites – these will still not give you 100%, but that’s a fool’s errand. But they will greatly assist in providing increased consistency and relevance; perhaps a list harvested from such a course page as you suggest might work? It is easy to overstate the usefullness of tags, especially when we loose sight of their origins – relatively low value but high volume content. There needs to be scale (other than for the individual’s own tags, but then that was the point, right, they tapped into individual motivations in scenarios where no central taxonomy nor central cataloguers would ever be able to cope. 80/20-like)

    I fear I’ve missed your point. If the higher level metadata you seek is generated based on basic ways people are already working, or that require them modifying their behaviour in ways that they are intrinsically motivated to do, then hoorah! Tags clearly aren’t the end-all, but there were reasons too for their invention.

  6. Scott,

    For info management, autocomplete is great. But I worry about that guiding students (or anyone else, for that matter) away from how they want to tag. I say keep the tags and categories wild and woolly. We’d lose too many neat possibilities — and individuality of online space — if we guide based on autocompleters.

    I don’t think you’ve missed the point at all, but I think I wasn’t clear about where I’m talking about the organization taking place. I’m not talking about another way to do tags on posts or blogs. I’m talking about a way to give metadata about classes themselves, to say “My Engl 101 section, in spring 2009 semester studies X” (where X is a common reference; and wikipedia is just the current best shot at a common reference point )

    But the point you make about “ways people are already working” and “modifying behaviour in ways that they are intrinsically motivated to do” is, I agree, the essential thing. I think/hope that many people would like to create and share a profile of their classes, but that’s untested yet. And it will likely call for user experience skills far beyond mine.

    I’m working on the mechanics of it here. It’s all just test/demo so I’m not too worried about data being real and still discovering bugs. If you want to try it out, enter in data, and hit the “Create Class” link (and keep fingers crossed that it doesn’t fail!). Then go to the Exhibit on the top tab, and look through the three first stabs I linked to at the bottom of the post.

    There’s lots for me to figure out here…the biggie is what you said — demonstrating to people that they gain something by adding this kind of data someplace (or just capturing it through more sneaky means!).

  7. Kaitlin says:


    Ah, I see – I did not understand that all tags go through wordpress. I see how that could create so much data that will not connect. WordPress does suggest relevant posts (if you allow that option) though they are not always relevant. And it does allow you to click on a certain tag name, but as you have stated, that could keep oral history & and oral tradition far apart, though they should be together.

    Anyway, it sounds like a good idea to me. Though why tags and not categories in this case, since categories are of a smaller lot.

    Good luck!

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  14. Ralph says:

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