Taxonomy and tagging of content: preparatory work

This blog entry is related to the poll:What improvement would you like for this site? (Total: 4 posts)
It is discussing the poll topics:
Other topics:

Taxonomy = tagging of content

This blog entry is a status report regarding the use of taxonomy and content tagging in this site.

Although currently a work in progress, the site taxonomy, i.e. the way different pages are content are tagged according to topics, is an important way content is categorized.
The aims are:
- to allow users to find the most relevant content on any topic.
- find the most compelling content, whenever it was posted, newer content not necessarily being more interesting than older one.
- provide a community-editable wiki page related to each taxonomy term.


Past work: big tag cleanup

I have done a lot of preparatory work towards those goals.

Last summer, I have made a thorough review on how polls and poll options are tagged, and how discussion on each poll and on each poll option tie in with the use of taxonomy in the rest of the web site. It took weeks of planning, and many, many days of solid work to improve the previously existing workflow and migrate all the existing data to the current framework. I am happy with the changes. The interface feels more intuitive, and I have been able to tie in blogs and polls, two parts of the web site that were previously disjointed.

Late last year, I also improved the API (= the code) to create new tags, offering a cleaner interface for the users, and better administrative tools for myself.

Last month, I spent countless hours cleaning many, many thousands of irrelevant tags created by spambots. The new tag creation feature would at least for a while prevent spambots from creating any more spam tags, I am relieved to say. I still had to perform a much needed clean-up. The problem was so bad that I had to develop specifically designed tools to select the thousands of tags that met specific criteria (created by spammers), and mass delete them. Then I had to cope with all the tags created over the years by regular users who were confused by the old interface and who created many dozens of tags that were not achieving their intended purposes: the classification of content. I had to reword many tags, manually merge or delete most of them, again using tools that I had to develop specifically for the purpose.

Going forwards: taxonomy page view

So now that the tag cleanup is over, that we have a better tag creation interface for users and better administrative tools for myself, we must consider the taxonomy page view we get when we do click on a tag link. For example, if you click on the tag "Site taxonomy" above, you will land on the page taxonomy/term/3372, where 3372 is obviously the tag ID.

Such taxonomy page is a work in progress and will be the object of many improvements over the coming months and more. Up until yesterday, they were a mess to the point that they were barely useful. Today, I just made two small incremental changes so that we can start making some sense of what they provide. I plan to slowly (manually) associate each tag to a wiki page. The relevant wiki page should appear at the top of each taxonomy page. This is already the case for such tags as Site taxonomy, Practical Democracy, Help, Democracy, etc.

This is only a start.
Here is a rough list of things to look forward to:

  • I would like the use of taxonomy to be so useful to the users that they make regular use of it, and regularly check the taxonomy pages for content relevant to any topic.
  • Currently, beside the wiki page "stickied" at the top of the list, the pages with a certain tag are listed with the newest at the top. This is something I'd like to avoid: the most relevant and most informative content is obviously not necessarily the newest one. Together, we can brainstorm alternative solutions.
  • Depending on what a user is looking for, the taxonomy page should be able to show:
    • where active discussion is taking place on the topic,
    • list of related polls,
    • list of related wiki pages,
    • list of related user-contributed books.
  • Content tagging will mostly be a collective effort. A user will generally not tag its own content in the most optimum way. Any trusted user should be able to contribute by adjusting the tags of any content.
  • Tag creation and tag changes made by users should be logged and made visible, allowing the community to oversee itself.

In a later blog entry, I will share more about what I think constitutes an appropriate tag. Also, I'll show you some other features that already exist, highlighting possibilities and the importance of proper tagging.

Issues related to this page:

ProjectSummaryStatusPriorityCategoryLast updatedAssigned to
websiteTaxonomy: explain use of tid1+tid2activemajorfeature request43 weeks 5 daysaugustin