OpenWetWare:Feature list/Tags and categories

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Brief description

Tags and categories could be very helpful to allow users to better navigate OWW. We may want to use a delicious-style system where users can make their own "personal" tag lists, or something where there are over-all categories (e.g. wikipedia categories).

Detailed description

  • See OpenWetWare:Information management/Tags for a proposed list of "standard" tags.
  • See Avenue A | Razorfish for screenshots of integration of tag clouds and wiki's.
    • This script might be used with relative ease to implement the tag/category cloud. It's suggested in the last chapter of this book on MediaWiki administration.
  • Issues:
    1. Standardization - do we need to have a fixed ontology in order to be able to mine it down the line?
    2. Motivation - maximum flexibility in tag names could make it easier to use
      • Also, "personalized" tags might be nice. (e.g. I would probably use tags heavily if they were for my personal use. e.g. I would go to jason kelly/protocols and see all the pages I tagged protocol, etc.) So I could use it as a personal navigation system for the site, and then that could be mined. This is the model.


  1. Controlled vocabulary vs free-for-all
    • reid 19:39, 6 August 2007 (EDT): I think there are semantic and syntactic considerations. Do we foresee doing any deductive data mining that would require a formal ontology? Semantically, it makes more sense to me to allow a free for all--let the users do the work of establishing a relevant vocabulary. That alone may be enough. If not, we could create a formal vocabulary or formal ontology later, based on the free-for-all. I do think we should have syntactic recommendations: fooBar vs foo_bar, noun vs verb, etc.
    • Reshma 12:03, 7 August 2007 (EDT): One advantage of a controlled vocabulary might be in finding relevant/related OWW pages. When you click the "Related articles" link in Pubmed, it generally finds pretty closely related articles that are interesting. You could imagine doing something similar in OWW. However, such a suggestion engine might work better if there were a controlled vocabulary. However, I agree that a "free-for-all" is likely better because of the freedom it gives to users, I just think it is important to acknowledge what we are giving up by not using a standard vocabulary.
    • Skoch3 12:32, 7 August 2007 (EDT): From another perspective: having a controlled vocabulary would take a lot of effort by someone, and there would always be demand for more words. My instinct is that free for all is better, if for no other reason than it is easier. Any user could add the tag of "preferred" vocabulary when they notice a page with an inferior tag. A syntactic recommendation (noun) but not enforced would be my vote (again, less ongoing administrative work).
    • Vincent 08:58, 8 August 2007 (EDT): I am not sure that we need to make a clear cut between these 2 options, I can easily imagine both co-existing. But it means that we need to make more visible the tags system already in place (great contribution by the way). One of the frustrations I have with OWW is related to how hard it is to find the info. I thinks standardized tags will help a lot to structure the info, and make it easier to access/browse. I understand that standardized vocabulary comes with a need for curation (like it has been done so far by Reshma and Austin), but I think users will quickly see the interest of using a common tagging system to make their contributions more visible.
  2. How do we encourage people to tag pages?
    • Skoch3 12:32, 7 August 2007 (EDT):My instinct is not to worry about this. Probably some people will go nuts tagging and others won't. Once the feature is around, it would be good to advertise it, though. Perhaps by adding a generic tag to everyone's user or user_talk page so people are curious and click to learn about it?
  3. Shared tags or personal tagging
    • reid 19:39, 6 August 2007 (EDT): Can we just do what does?: anything I tag is shared. I can see everything with a tag at I can see what I've tagged with a particular tag at I can prefix tags like "private:mytag" to keep them from being shared.
    • Reshma 12:03, 7 August 2007 (EDT): Good ideas. This might be the right way to do things. The source code for connotea is available freely so we could potentially use that.
    • Jason R. Kelly: I like this approach as well.

Interested community members