What is a Tag ?

A keyword (often in a string) which is attached to a blog post, tweet (see “hashtag”), social bookmark or media file. Tags help categorize content by subject.

We use tags to aid classification, mark ownership, note boundaries, and indicate online identity. They may take the form of words, images, or other identifying marks. An analogous example of tags in the physical world is museum object tagging. People were using textual keywords to classify information and objects long before computers. Computer based search algorithms made the use of such keywords a rapid way of exploring records.

Social Media

Tagging gained popularity due to the growth of social bookmarking, image sharing, and social networking websites. These sites allow users to create and manage labels (or “tags”) that categorize content using simple keywords. Websites that include them often display collections of is tag clouds, as do some desktop applications. On websites that aggregate the tags of all users, an individual user’s can be useful both to them and to the larger community of the website’s users.

The systems have sometimes been classified into two kinds: top-down and bottom-up.  Top-down taxonomies are created by an authorized group of designers (sometimes in the form of a controlled vocabulary), whereas bottom-up taxonomies (called folksonomies) are created by all users. This definition of “top down” and “bottom up” should not be confused with the distinction between a single hierarchical tree structure (in which there is one correct way to classify each item) versus multiple non-hierarchical sets (in which there are multiple ways to classify an item); the structure of both top-down and bottom-up taxonomies may be either hierarchical, non-hierarchical, or a combination of both.  Some researchers and applications have experimented with combining hierarchical and non-hierarchical tagging to aid in information retrieval.  Others are combining top-down and bottom-up  including in some large library catalogs (OPACs) such as World Cat.



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