There's no such thing as a "private tag." Which is rather strange, since that's exactly how the tag feature was first promoted
I don't say a word about private tags there Joe. So I think you've misunderstood something.
Well, we can see how well that works. As Craven points out, if everybody tagged the threads in which they were interested with "subscribed" or "bookmarked," then the tags would become completely useless as bookmarks. But then that raises the question: wasn't the tag feature primarily designed to bookmark threads?
But you can bookmark things without using a meaningless tag. Whatever you use, and it shows up on your "my tags" list. When you bookmark websites in your browser do you name each of them "bookmark" or "subscribe" or do you use useful descriptions? Do you put each in a folder called "bookmark"? All I am saying is that the most useful way to use it is to actually describe the topic. That way new clusters of content is organized for others through your efforts to organize it for yourself.
A tag is
a bookmark, and what I've been saying is that the folksonomy we get out of the tagging affects others, so using "bookmark" to describe the topics is not useful to others.
I suppose one could come up with a uniquely personal tag that no one else would duplicate, like one's user name.
Why? All your tags are already unique to you. Just like your browser bookmarks. You don't title each website you bookmark something unique to yourself do you? You probably let it use the page title so it accurately describes the link.
For instance, I could bookmark all of the threads in which I am interested with a "joefromchicago" tag.
Why? Why not a "politics" tag if it's about politics? The tagging is essentially a relevancy vote, and the topic most tagged politics show up at the top of the politics list by default. Since your tags are already filtered for you why do you need a unique string?
Of course, everyone would know that I had bookmarked the thread, but then everyone would know if I had posted "bm" to the thread as well, so I don't see that as a problem. Furthermore, if anyone wanted to form a mini-community with me, they could just follow my "joefromchicago" tags.
Or they could just go here:
They don't need a specific tag to follow your tags just like you don't. So you could organize your tags semantically and you and they can still follow them but the difference would be that they make sense.
One problem with that, though, is that it appears only 20 tags are listed in the "my tags" section. I don't know if these are the most frequently used tags or if there is some other way that they are grouped. They seem to change for me on a daily basis -- for what reason I cannot tell. And I know that I have more than 20 tags, because some of them don't appear at all (e.g. I tagged a philosophy thread "Friedrich Nietzsche," but that doesn't appear in the "my tags" box -- so much for that bookmark).
Right now, it's sorted by the ones you most used (and note that your topics were imported with you tagging them the forum name) but you point out one of our biggest priorities: our tag clouds are limited and don't let you page deeper.
We'll make ways you can access all your tags.
Now, before I get labelled as a Luddite whiner, let me just say that I am guardedly enthusiastic about the tag feature. As a bookmark, I don't think it works terribly well (at least not as well as promised), but it has the potential to make the site much more user-driven.
Hey, I think it works well as a bookmark and is deficient in all the areas you aren't criticizing it for (except for the cloud, you are right to criticize that and it's the most unfinished part of the live site).
If you tag it, it shows up on your list. It works. You don't need to use these convoluted tags to get the "bm" equivalent. Once you tag it you have a list of your tagged topics that you can sort by anything that you could do on the old "my posts" page and more.
I like the tags, and I have been doing my part to add tags to discussions that will help categorize those threads and make them easier to search and group in the future. I just wonder if the potential that is there will be fully exploited.
As long as people keep using useful tags it will work well, when people start advocating the mistaken notion that the tag should be unique to the user instead of describing the topic is when the categorization is being used poorly.