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April 17, 2007

Describing your del.icio.us tags

I'm a bit slow on the uptake with this item, but I noticed a few days ago that my favourite social bookmarking service (del.icio.us) has introduced a feature called "tag descriptions", and I just started to play around with it a bit this morning. This feature allows you to add some descriptive information (title and free-text description) of a tag that you use i.e. to create some metadata "about" the tag and your intended "meaning" for the tag.

For example, I apply a tag "REST" in del.icio.us entries for resources related in some way to the Representational State Transfer architectural style. So to indicate that my tag is related to that particular meaning of "rest" rather than the "having forty winks" notion, I created a "tag description" for my "REST" tag which provides the expansion as a title, and a brief textual description. (I included a couple of URIs of "defining" resources too, but that's probably overkill given that I've already created and tagged entries for those same resources!). That description is displayed at the head of the page which lists my del.icio.us entries using that particular tag:


and it's also included in the "channel" metadata for the corresponding RSS feed:


The feature offers a useful mechanism for individual taggers to articulate and to disclose to other users the intent behind their use of a tag, at least in human-readable form.

Pulling together the different descriptions provided by different taggers for the same tag (which I'm not sure del.ici.ous allows me to do, at the moment anyway) might be an interesting exercise in highlighting where a single tag is applied by different taggers with contrasting "meanings". As far as I can see from a cursory scan of the first few pages, the vast majority of del.icio.us entries tagged with "REST" are indeed related to Representational State Transfer. I guess some of the other tags I apply ("Turtle", "TAG") are rather more likely to be applied with quite different intent by other users, and "tag descriptions" provide one way of highlighting such divergences/collisions.



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