Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Next Generation Tagging

Scott Rafer and the Feedster crew are at it again. This time they’ve come up with a way to add a form to any post that allows any user to tag an individual entry. It looks just like this:

After trying the code on the page multiple times I can not get it to work. Here is what I’m using:

<form name=”tags” method=”get” action=”http://bookmarks.feedster.com/submit.php”>
<input type=”text” name=”tags” size=”15″>
<input type=”hidden” name=”uri” value=”<$MTEntryPermalink valid_html=”1″$>”>
<input type=”submit” value=”Tag this”>

Not sure what’s going on, but I’ll continue as if it works (since I already wrote it).

In fact, that is it. It’s an interesting idea and one I discussed with Scott at some length. I love the idea of allowing anyone to tag a post, because, as Scott wrote in this post introducing “Tag This,” “not all his readers have or want delicious accounts or want to learn enough to create them, though the benefits of a full social bookmarking account are numerous.” While I agree with that, and think there are many advantages to allowing users to tag anonymously, there are still a outstanding issues.

First, for me at least (and I’ve mentioned this to Scott), I really would like a way to dynamically display the tags users have given to my entry. This doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult to implement and I expect we’ll be seeing it sometime down the road.

However, even that function doesn’t answer a bigger question for me: Will readers tag a post when it has no real advantage for them? I tag things on del.icio.us because it will be easier for me to find them later. They are my bookmarks and I use tags that make the most sense to me. However, when you take tagging out of that context, what value does a user get out of it? (Please, someone reading this correct me if I’m wrong.)

I just feel like if I go to a page and am able to tag it, I probably won’t unless I want an easy way to find it again and in that case, I’ll just use del.icio.us. Now I know this service isn’t necessarily designed for me, but who will want to use it?

I guess the bottom line for me is that tagging is only useful when I can see a direct benefit. Call me selfish, but I’m not really going to tag someone else’s post to help them create a better organization system. I can see how something like “Tag This” can work on a larger scale, say for a website like the New York Times, where the benefit of tagging an article is the belief that someone else will be doing the same and creating a better organized site. But I don’t get it on a small scale. This may be my shortsightedness, though, because I do see the irony in saying that this will work on a site with a large, community-like readership but not a smaller site like mine (therefore implying that I don’t have a community-like readership).

If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. What else can I say?

Update (6/12/05): Looks like I got it working with a little help from the Feedster crew, here it is

May 24, 2005