19
   

Tags vs. Forums -- The Showdown

 
 
jespah
 
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 04:03 am
I know what you're thinking. If you're interested, and you're reading this, you're already sold on tagging. If you're not (then how do you know about this topic? There's today's existential question for ya), or you're still skeptical about tags, then you might read along or skim politely but no dice, I won't convince you. Not you.

Well, I hope you'll hear (read) me out.

In the old A2K, topics were divided into forums. We all know this. One thing not known outside of Moderator Land is that one of our jobs was not only to promote interesting topics (Noddy, may she rest peacefully and comfortably, was in charge of that) but also to assure that said topics were in the correct forums. This helped people to find what they were looking for.

As Mods, we had the ability to do a sort of partial move, which afforded an opportunity to show a topic in > 1 forum without the user having to create > 1 identical topic. We did not (nearly all of the time) do any more than double a topic as that would wreak havoc with the requirement that we had to have 10 (no more, no less) topics featured in any given forum. One of the problems with limiting this (always a lower priority versus pulling spam, handling access issues, etc.) is that not every topic fits into a nice neat singular or dual pigeonhole.

For example, let's say there was a topic about someone who wanted to train their dog to be in show biz, including not only TV but also print media such as magazine layouts. Perhaps they'd start the topic in the old Pets & Garden forum, and do a bad job naming it, calling it Help! That's all well and good, and it might attract people interested in dog training, but it would probably not bring in anyone with too much knowledge of show biz or getting an agent, etc. Hence we would do our duplication trick with the topic, but to where? Performing Arts was really meant for non-TV, non-movie subjects, such as opera, ballet, Broadway shows, mime, etc. Unless the dog was going to walk on during a pivotal scene in this video, that forum was out. What about TV? All well and good but the dog could get roles in the movies, too. Plus the old TV forum was dominated with people mainly just talking about existing shows. And what about print media? With no magazines forum (adding forums was very, very tough with the old software, so adding a Magazines forum was out of the question), the closest one was Books. Although that could pull in some ideas about agents, it wouldn't be for canine talent.

Hence that topic would end up, most likely, just in Pets & Garden, and nowhere else because we'd be at a loss as to where else to put it. Then we'd hope for the best. In the meantime, with a topic title that was less than descriptive, it would likely not attract many participants. A recipe for a forum flop.

Enter tagging. Here on the new A2K, instead of forums, we have tags. If you were creating the dog talent topic, you could put anything you wanted into the tags. Things like: dogs, talent agency, talent scout, advertisements, TV, movies, magazines, clicker training, etc. Then any time someone either searched under one of those tags or even if they went to Google and looked, that topic would have a fighting chance of coming up. Not so much of a forum flop anymore, eh?

Then, as more people read and tagged the topic, it might get new and different perspectives from the participants. Other tags, like border collie, reward system or Cesar Milan might be added. Those new tags, in turn, would have the potential to bring in more and more different people. Not so bad for a topic called Help! about a somewhat obscure yet very specific subject.

And there's more.

As folks come into the new A2K, a lot of them have issues with finding things. And that's understandable as the new system is being learned. However, this is where tagging can really shine. If our little Help! topic is tagged Cesar Milan, then anyone looking for topics about Cesar Milan will find it, just by doing a search using the tag search box (try it: there already is a Cesar Milan tag). There is the search up top (which is just an A2K-specific Google search) and there's also the tag search. Tags can help with both.

So try some tagging. As you do it, so will your fellow A2Kers, and it'll get even more useful. Use tags when you start topics. Use them when you go back into your older topics. Use them when you go into others' topics, if you don't see them tagged, or not tagged properly or specifically enough, or if you can think of a different tag that that topic seems to be missing. When the site was imported and changed, the names of the forums were brought along as tags, so if you really want to look things up using only the old forum names, feel free! Just start typing the old forum name into the tag search box (left side of the screen, about 40% of the way down) and you'll get to the right set of topics. But try your own tags, because I bet they'll work even better.

All we are saying, is give tags a chance.

Thanks for reading.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 19 • Views: 6,713 • Replies: 77

 
maporsche
 
  2  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 04:16 am
@jespah,
jespah....I'm sort of leary of tagging topics that I'm not REALLY interested in because they will forever show up in the "my tags" section. I like things really clean.

Any suggestions.
jespah
 
  2  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 04:23 am
@maporsche,
Actually, I've done that -- I've tagged stuff and then voted it down (hence you'll find "lovatts" as one of my tags although those puzzles don't interest me). I think -- don't quote me on this -- that the main ones are going to show up, that there's some sort of limit to the # of tags showing. Therefore if you tagged something and it was one of your less popular tags, it would eventually drop off the list.

One thing I've noticed is that some people have come up with some pretty nasty tagging (e. g. this user is a such and such). Not only is that, let's face it, immature, it's also something that will end up being crowded out quickly, as other users tag and their more popular tags crowd out the nastiness.
0 Replies
 
George
 
  5  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 06:56 am
Jes~

In answer to the existential question, I found this because I default to New
Posts and -- voila! -- there it was.

The one thing I liked about fora was that I could find questions I was able
to answer by checking a given forum. A noob with a question had to put it
somewhere and most often, though not always, would find the right forum.
My point is that with fora, a noob would have to make a decision. Now he or
she does not. If there's no tag, then the question can get lost easily, especially
since the uninterested will be voting it down.

So...

How can we get one-time-questioners to tag?

~George
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 07:08 am
@George,
exactly Mr George - especially when tagging is optional to start a question

Quote:
Optional: Use comma, separated, keywords to categorize your topic



comma, separated, keywords ? perhaps comma-separated ? or keywords separated by commas (assuming people know what keywords are ...)
0 Replies
 
OGIONIK
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 07:34 am
@jespah,
mixture of both, balance is always the answer.

just like repub versus dem, socialism versus capitalism, balance !!!!
0 Replies
 
Ticomaya
 
  2  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 09:26 am
@jespah,
jespah wrote:
I know what you're thinking. If you're interested, and you're reading this, you're already sold on tagging.
...


Actually, I'm reading this because I'm NOT sold on tagging, and I'm hoping you are about to tell me about the New A2K Forum feature.

I'll continue reading ...
0 Replies
 
Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 09:31 am
@George,
Okay ... I finished reading. And I'm still skeptical.

And I think George asks a very good question.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  2  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 09:43 am
I'm not sold on tagging either. 1) So often when I click on what appears to be the appropriate tag, the thread I want won't be there. Even my own tags (not the specific tag but the generic list) don't always call up the thread I'm looking for which could of course be due to me doing it wrong.

I'm coping with it all pretty well now, though, and have no serious complaints other than one.

Used to, when a subject was entered into a forum, it had a chance of being visible on the first page for a few hours and often for several days. Many of us with limited time prowled in a few favorite forums and would see most of the new stuff. This also allowed intermittant browsing types to see it and, if it peaked their interest, to participate.

The general 'new posts' thread where we all log in now, however, moves so fast that an interesting topic can move off the first page within minutes and can be buried pages deep within hours. Unless you're lucky in guessing how it was tagged, it probably won't be seen by most.

Newbies coming into the forum, who haven't figured out the tagging system, etc. are almost certainly going to be frustrated when they can't easily find the thread that was sufficiently interesting to prompt them to make their first post(s).

I don't know if there is a solution for this or if there even should be. A new member, somebody dear to me, that I recently brought into A2K is a really bright guy. But he has found it too confusing to even attempt other than the two threads he has participated in. I don't know how many more are like him.
CalamityJane
 
  4  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 09:55 am
@jespah,
Well, I started out with tagging and it just became a nuisance to constantly
tag new threads and I resorted to the default feature "all topics, all time",
and I also use "my posts" - that's it.

So having used tags for 2 weeks, I prefer the old sub-categories to tagging!
Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 09:55 am
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre wrote:
I don't know if there is a solution for this or if there even should be.

I don't know either, but I wish there was an easy solution.

In an offhand way, it seems a workable solution might be to create "groups" or "clusters" of tags, with the groups/clusters being finite and set -- sort of like the forums used to be. Then somehow tags are placed into those defined groups. I say "somehow" because when a new tag ("Obama" for instance) is created, it won't be in a "group." There would need to be the ability to place that tag in a group ("Politics," in that example.). Then those of us who prefer to search the old forum way, could look at the groups and see clusters of tags that relate to the grouping.

However, I'm sure CdK and others have thought of this ... since he has spent quite a bit more time analyzing the working of this site than I have ... and that "solution" has either been determined to be unworkable/impossible, or it or some variation of it is in the works.
0 Replies
 
Ticomaya
 
  2  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 10:09 am
@CalamityJane,
CalamityJane wrote:
Well, I started out with tagging and it just became a nuisance to constantly
tag new threads and I resorted to the default feature "all topics, all time",
and I also use "my posts" - that's it.

I do the same.

Quote:
So having used tags for 2 weeks, I prefer the old sub-categories to tagging!

Me too, CJ ... me too.
maporsche
 
  2  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 10:53 am
@Ticomaya,
Quote:
Quote:
So having used tags for 2 weeks, I prefer the old sub-categories to tagging!

Me too, CJ ... me too.


Me three....
Lash
 
  4  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 10:58 am
@maporsche,
Me, too. I can't find old stuff AT ALL...and sometimes not new stuff. I wasn't going to complain...I was trying to work with it, but if I'm being asked....I like the old forums...
Linkat
 
  3  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 11:11 am
I’m a rebel. I don’t use the tags thingy and I don’t use the vote down button. Like George, I default to New Posts and have the posts ordered by date. I then scroll through and any question or discussion that is of interest I read/respond " like this one.

In the “old” A2k, I didn’t use Forums to look things up either I looked at everything and in order of newest or pulled my posts to see what others replied or reamed me from my comments.

But, like I said I’m a rebel.
roger
 
  4  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 11:13 am
@jespah,
jespah wrote:

I know what you're thinking. If you're interested, and you're reading this, you're already sold on tagging.


Yep. This follows logically like day follows bathtubs. Actually, I'm reading this because things written by jespah often have the force of what some of us probably still call "ANNOUNCEMENTS", and found it because I'm set up for all topics, all time.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  3  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 11:18 am
@Linkat,
Me too, Linkat, except sometimes using forums was handy for finding old threads when I couldn't dredge up a good keyword.
Region Philbis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 11:20 am
@Lash,
old threads can be found under tags that correspond to the old forums.

a thread that was in the old compter forum, say, can now be found at
http://able2know.org/tag/computers/

if i'm not mistaken, all old forum tags appear on the homepage, in the left-hand column...
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 11:20 am
@roger,
Well, I'll join this rebel-ution.
0 Replies
 
Region Philbis
 
  2  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 11:24 am
I mistakenly wrote:
if i'm not mistaken, all old forum tags appear on the homepage, in the left-hand column...
it looks like only the most popular tags are shown there now.
that might've changed when the tag display was changed from a word list separated by commas to a single-word column...
 

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