Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Similar to What are good rules for naming menu items?, what are good tag naming conventions?

For example, should one pluralize the topic (wavelets) or always use the singular (wavelet)? Is it better to choose the shortest possible synonym or the least ambiguous (code c++ vs programming c++)? Should one use the active verb form (tagging) or the noun/name form (tags)?

To demonstrate I suppose somewhat ironically, I've tagged this question with both already available tags, tagging and tags.

share|improve this question
4  
I think this opens up a much larger debate as to how useful are tags in general. I think if you're sticking with the concept of tags, there's no rules. Duplicates/synonyms/etc are likely inevitable unless you implement some form of human or AI curating. If you're looking at locking down the terms, I'd call that a categorization system rather than tags, where the primary difference is the curation happens BEFORE users interact with them. –  DA01 Nov 8 '11 at 0:45
add comment

4 Answers 4

Tags are folksonomy, so as DA01 rightly points out, you don't prescribe them. Typically if they are prescribed they will be categories.

share|improve this answer
2  
Tagging is a particular way to categorize information, but it doesn't dictate that a folksonomy is the only way to build the inventory of tags. I think there are valid cases for closed inventories, especially in cases that value consistency over actual diversity of vocabulary. –  Todd Sieling Nov 14 '11 at 4:11
    
True ... that's why I said 'typically' as you certainly can have a closed tagging system, providing pre-determined values while allowing users to choose. –  jameswanless Nov 14 '11 at 7:13
add comment

Tags should fit in the following sentence:

This item is about _________.

This simple and useful guideline came from UXExchange, the precursor of ux.stackexchange.com. (I came up with it, so of course I think it's useful.)

So "tagging" would be for an item about the process of tagging, "tags" would be for an item about the actual tags themselves, and "tag" would be for an item about a children's game.

(This applies to the most common use of tags, which is as topic descriptors (what the item is about, as opposed to a category describing what the item is).)

Of course, nothing is foolproof and people will just do whatever they want. But while tags are meant to be user-generated, it is a good idea to give some guidance in choosing tags so you don't end up with 214 "tagging" items, 301 "tags" and 253 "tag". At least a simple guideline like this may help keep your tags a bit more consistent and useful.

share|improve this answer
1  
Nice use of double parentheses –  Emil Nov 14 '11 at 4:16
add comment

I would advise you not to make rules for tagging. The whole point of tagging is that it's flexible and mostly user generated. For avoiding typos you could implement auto-completion.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Don't allow spaces. For example: "objective-c" not "objective c", "web-development" not "web development".

share|improve this answer
    
... because then you can use a space as a delimiter when inputting multiple tags? –  Patrick McElhaney Nov 15 '11 at 0:31
    
But then you get CamelCase Infestation in non-tech folksonomies… –  Oliver Jan 1 '13 at 20:04
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.