By Collin Allen

Tagging Standards

September 6, 2005

Sites like organize data through the use of tags, which I think is a brilliant idea. However, I disagree with the occasional comment lamenting the lack of tagging standards. I think the absence of a standard encourages a diversity of categories, bringing in more related content that would not otherwise be found.

The idea behind letting users tag their own content goes beyond simple per-user categorization. The theory is that, when enough users have tagged the same piece of information, it should be possible to find similarities between tags and produce an “average” list of tags for that data. While some users may append not-so-common tags, if enough do, the popular ones will rise to the top with the rest and create a new commonly used tag.

I’m wondering, though, what cutoff should be used to gauge when a tag or grouping is “popular enough”? And what tag sample size is necessary to determine that, as well?