But since I’ve started using tags in Qumana, I find myself unable to ignore the urge to somehow subvert the intent of these tag things. I want to make people laugh, to surprise them, and so I like to tag posts so that they’ll show up in a way that makes the “finder’s” experience richer not in the usual way, but in the way that makes them go WTF?
Most of the time, I use tags to add context to what I’ve written. Not to classify it. Not to organize it. Not to plug it in among the topics that others are writing about. Tags have a place beyond taxonomies and classifications and categorization. They are a beautiful, wide-open opportunity to add subtext to your writing. To sew meaning into the fabric of someone else’s reading experience.
I like to tag based on emotion, inference, subtleties, in a way that make tags PART of my post, not an afterthought way to plug them into Technorati and what everyone else is talking about.
What do you think of that? It made me a little ill, and confused, but then I realized that for this blogger, blogging is a pure emotional release and tagging is just one more way to express emotion.
A lot of the comments on her post did not agree with her. Tagging by the seat-of-your-pants-emotions dilutes the tagging process.
While it’s nice and romantic to think that people will stumble upon your tag called “rough-edged stones”, what are the odds? And if they do, won’t they be irritated to find that they are not discovering new methods of rock polishing or gemology but some self-involved babble?
These are the tags on that particular post:
While there are a few in there that make sense, what about the other ones? The one word tags related to her post content about tagging with emotions. The rest have NOTHING to do with the content. Sure, maybe the content of the overall site, but not the post itself. I believe she thinks of these as tagging easter eggs.
How do you tag your posts? Have you looked over the various tag services’ most popular tag lists, like the one at Technorati, and learn what are the key tags for the subjects you write about? Do you think about the content and dig out keywords that people will use to search for your post and use those as tags? Or do you just list the first words or phrases that come into your head?
This blogger makes an interesting point, though, in spite of her reckless use of tags.
Because that’s really how we find each other–the each others that we can make meaning with going forward. We find each other in our humanness, not in our ability to mimic machines. We don’t need to re-create search engine technology. We need to get real.
This is a very good point because it puts a human face back onto the process. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t work. Look at her tag she’s nuts. There is only one post, hers. How do you connect with others if there are no other posts in your tag category? Clearly, not a hot tag topic.
The odds of people entering that search term is small, but if someone is searching for “nuts” then her post will appear. And hopefully people seriously searching for information about walnuts, pecans, almonds, and peanuts will forgive the crap that appears in the Technorati search for “nuts”. More dilution of the tag, but this time, its because of synonyms not poor usage.
Again, this is how I think of tags. They are the index page for your blog. They provide navigational links to help people find related topics based upon one or two keywords. Bottom line:
Tags help people find information.
If your tag doesn’t lead to the information they are seeking, you have just wasted their time. It is nice to think that for a second you might have broadened their browsing experience, gave them a change to giggle and grin in the dimly lit room from which they enter the Internet world. The truth is that they have taken one glance, realized you don’t have what they want, and click, they are gone. You didn’t get much of a chance to expand their browsing experience. Few people do time-wasting browsing, randomly poking around. Yes, some do, but most people are out on the hunt.
What do you think about this?
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network