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This is why it's not nice to the community to use tags as graffiti

 
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 02:24 am
I've explained that the tags are intended to be a means to save threads that you find relevant, as well as a means of creating new forums and organizing topics but it's to be expected that it would also be used for fun, and for doing things like leaving anonymous graffiti.

Thing is, it won't be anonymous forever and eventually topics will be able to display who tagged it and tags are increasingly going to be a way that members get to determine the fate of the community. Talk about a subject enough and it's place on the site gets more prominent. And for this reason systemic use of tags as graffiti can have negative effects for the rest of us. Here's an example from the home page right now:

http://img30.imageshack.us/img30/5137/37796585.jpg

The propaganda crap that comes at us from new accounts and new ips incessantly (despite a large number of them being blocked) is often tagged humorously (and responded to) each of which action votes up the topic and the tagging also has the effect of creating special forums to collect these topics. In this case these propaganda spammers have scored a coup with a nice home page link to their nonsense on able2know. This came courtesy of a small number of users who probably didn't intend for this to happen so the obvious solution is for us to tweak the related tags algorithm to rely on more of the crowd. But more of the crowd helping out would also be way cool. The way tags work with the site is going to continue to evolve and become more apparent but the short version is:

Tagging a topic is intended to bookmark it so that you can see it in your list of tagged topics and by doing so send a signal to the community that you find the topic worthy of saving. So tagging dumb topics with humorous tags has the effect of promoting the dumb topic.

Tagging also creates a forum for other topics with the same tag. So using it to make comments makes able2know a worse place. We don't need a "so and so was here" forum, and while there will always be folks who will use it that way if the tool is open that way I'd like to appeal to more of the regulars here to help us out by: 1) tagging topics that you think are worth recommending to others, 2) using tags you think are appropriate forums that others would find useful.

We'll work on making the software do better at handling open tags and there are a lot of things we aren't yet doing right. Here we should start with ranking related tags by unique user combinations to prevent a single user from being able to have this much of an impact so while we work on making our code do better at extracting the wisdom of crowd I'd also like to appeal to the crowd for more wisdom. If you can't help but go graffiti on the tags we aren't going to get all authoritarian on you and require you to stop but it does cause us more work and at least please avoid systemic use of it that way (e.g. using the same novelty tag too many times) so that it doesn't become too prominent in areas where the tags are used for the communal purposes.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 26 • Views: 8,951 • Replies: 143

 
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 03:23 am
I haven't indulged in "graffiti tagging", but I have often used the "tags" section as a descriptor of what the thread is actually about. To offer a bit more information (than just "relationships", "community" , "Australia", etc, etc ..) of what the thread is actually about. Often it's hard to tell, just from the thread topic.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 03:45 am
@Robert Gentel,
I would try to help by creating more of the useful tags, but I really try to keep my own tag list as uncluttered as possible, not that you could tell by looking at it.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 05:29 am
@roger,
Graffiti tagging happens to my threads on a regular basis. Instead of speaking to me directly, somebody prefers to botch it up for me and anybody else that would be interested. Apparently they don't know any powers of persuasion and have to resort to name calling.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 06:09 am
I have found that adding ten tags to my topics helps to reduce/eliminate graffitti tagging (then again, people may not want to do that to the site Proj. Mgr. so my experience is not necessarily a common one). But be that as it may, it does help to have the tags up there and filled out. Writing about President Obama? Then tags like Politics, United States, Presidency, President Obama could all be good. Really, it takes less than a minute and it helps out the site in a big way.

Thanks to all who tag, and tag well.
farmerman
 
  4  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 06:10 am
@edgarblythe,
I only tag gungasnake threads with graffiti tags and I feel so ashamed. At least I have used new graffiti phrases so they dont get reinforced.

Criticism taken with deep solemnity .

In my sinful state, and in an effort to seek absolution, I would serve as a guinea pig (or test hamster) to use my tags as a method to update yer sofware.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 09:04 am
I suppose one option would be to only allow tagging after a user has posted a certain small number of posts (say 10). Of course the author can tag during topic creation as well. That might stop the hit and run type of tags while still allowing even infrequent users to participate.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  5  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 09:56 am
@Robert Gentel,
I hate to say it, but I find the "graffiti" tags useful. Things like "international snooze", "hit and run" and "do my homework", are usually pretty accurate tags.

I understand the problem you're running into with tags like this, but I don't see a way around it. Users evolve to fit the system available to them. This is our environment. We have adapted.

djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 09:59 am
i never use the tags to look for topics or to judge the topics

i've mentioned rude tags before, i'd rather confront the poster in their thread then just tag and run
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 12:40 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
Thing is, it won't be anonymous forever and eventually topics will be able to display who tagged it


yeah, ok, so?

I don't care if my conservative hysteria and ignore h20man tags have my name attached - as Rosborne has pointed out - we've worked out a way to make the tagging system work for us. It may not be the way they're supposed to work for the site, but evolution took over.

In a related vein, I regularly add ESL, learning English and EFL tags to threads marked as English - I don't want to go back to those threads thinking they're about English in the way I think of English.

The tags are intended to mark threads to be saved. It's probably about an even split as to whether I've used them for "go-back-to" or "avoid-at-all-costs" purposes.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 12:43 pm
As with all other functions of A2K, I use the tagging system primarily and exclusively for my personal enjoyment. The promotion of humorous tags makes the site a better place, not a worse one.

Cycloptichorn
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 12:43 pm
@jespah,
jespah wrote:
Writing about President Obama? Then tags like Politics, United States, Presidency, President Obama could all be good.


this one in particular is an arrrrrgh for me. Using "politics" to mark something that's about the current state of U.S. politics. U.S. politics - probably in my top ten tags - most days for "stay away" purposes.
tsarstepan
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 12:44 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

I hate to say it, but I find the "graffiti" tags useful. Things like "international snooze", "hit and run" and "do my homework", are usually pretty accurate tags.

I understand the problem you're running into with tags like this, but I don't see a way around it. Users evolve to fit the system available to them. This is our environment. We have adapted.

Thank you rosborne! Smile That's the exact sentiment I hold.
ossobuco
 
  5  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 12:47 pm
@djjd62,
I am guessing that tags that show up often in thread description also are apt to make the thread show up higher on the browser pages if someone outside of a2k googles or otherwise browses that word... thus potentially bringing a2k more potential members. Again, just a guess, but if true another (to me) good reason for tagging.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 12:48 pm
@djjd62,
I personally use the tag search engine to search for threads that I'm involved in or want to be involved in but haven't got around to it yet.

So I find tags useful.

I also humbly apologize if I add to the burden of the admins and webmastarians alike. I was unaware of the technical archive process of tags and such.
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 12:54 pm
@tsarstepan,
i guess from my days of record shop browsing i like to just scan through endless things, i usually scroll through the first 2 or three pages of new posts, an search my posts for threads i'm already active in

0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 01:18 pm
@djjd62,
For search, it depends - if I'm looking for a recipe I remember, I first use the Google Custom Search box; or if looking for something recent, look down the column with the tag headings on the right and find, say, Sports, then Football - and up pop the threads I've been following. If I'm chasing down a subject that I don't usually follow, say, walruses, I'd type that into search tags. Last place on earth I'd look is in 'my tags' as I've 73 pages of them (50 each) - although there is a nice list of some of them to the right on my 'my tags' page, and I suppose I should/could look there in my searches.

Anyway, I like subject tags and when I tag tend to go from general to specific in my list.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 01:32 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:
I hate to say it, but I find the "graffiti" tags useful. Things like "international snooze", "hit and run" and "do my homework", are usually pretty accurate tags.


Useful for what? In order to identify topics of little value? Because voting them down would also do that and tagging them makes them more prominent on the site, which increases the likelihood that more such content will appear.

If just for fun, which is a use in a sense, I get it though. But by making this thread the person responsible noticed the unintended side effect and actually removed all the tags fixing the problem (though another person is doing the "hit and run" ones that now replaced it).

Quote:
I understand the problem you're running into with tags like this, but I don't see a way around it. Users evolve to fit the system available to them. This is our environment. We have adapted.


Who's we? This is being done by a couple of people. But yes, the users "adapted" but will continue to adapt. You might be beyond convincing but others might not be and I already outlined two things we can do about it.

1) We can code the related tag algorithm right to begin with, right now it ranks related tags merely by total times it's been used with another tag. So if one single member always tags two tags together they have this effect. We need to rework all the data so that we are counting and using unique user tag pairs as well in the related tag rankings so that this doesn't happen.

There is a lot of other things we need to do to improve how we display the "wisdom of the crowd" but at the same time the crowd can also give more wisdom so:

2) For those who feel so inclined, tagging can help the community, and this thread is an appeal to tag more helpfully. It worked beyond my wildest dreams when the member removed all their uses of this tag, which I thought was a suggestion too forward to make myself. I was just hoping to get a reduction in future use and better yet it's retroactively removed.

If others want to help, and I understand that may not be for you, here is how to do it:

1) Tag topics you find worthy of sharing. In the future your tagged topics will bring you recommendations, you are telling the software that you like the topic and that you recommend it to others.

2) Use useful tags that categorize the topic instead of comments about the topic. More tags are better than fewer tags, and the perfect ideal would be to mix more inclusive tags with more specific tags. E.g. first use a tag that is one of our main forums, then get more specific ("politics, obama, health care"). The more you use multiple tags the better we can determine related tags.

Making this appeal made our crowd wisdom better, this is one thing we can do about it.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 01:38 pm
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

Robert Gentel wrote:
Thing is, it won't be anonymous forever and eventually topics will be able to display who tagged it


yeah, ok, so?

I don't care if my conservative hysteria and ignore h20man tags have my name attached - as Rosborne has pointed out - we've worked out a way to make the tagging system work for us. It may not be the way they're supposed to work for the site, but evolution took over.


I understand that the anonymity might not matter at all to some, but to others it does. So by doing so it will reduce the prevalence of such tags a bit.

Remember, I don't expect this kind of thing to stop. People are too diverse in their desires for such a thing to happen without an authoritarianism that I won't abide. So it will happen and my challenge is to find ways to minimize the negative effects on the community.

By removing the anonymity a small reduction can occur. By highlighting the ways the tags are used some users will change. Some won't, and I accept that but there are some who will be willing to help us out.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 01:39 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
As with all other functions of A2K, I use the tagging system primarily and exclusively for my personal enjoyment. The promotion of humorous tags makes the site a better place, not a worse one.


Have fun then. If possible try to have fun in ways that negatively impact others less. For example, even if you want to use humorous "graffiti" tags just varying them can help. Using one over and over makes it more prominent than it deserves to be.

Think of it like jokes, telling the community the same joke too many times doesn't make it a better place.
 

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