Friday, August 11, 2006

usability errors with tags

Photo below: The Exciting Hellebore Shew at ResonanceFM.

Tags are keywords that people add to their Flickr, YouTube, and blog posts, among other uses. A tag is supposed to be a way to link content to similar content, generally content by the same author or uploader. Or content related to a topic like "sex destruction" or "lamb fruit" or "Net Neutrality".

I have mixed feelings about tags. I wonder why this tag system is implemented so poorly. It sucks. And I'll tell you why now.

At the video uploading/hosting site YouTube, my experimental varnish videos are tagged "vaspers" (sans quotes). All of my video dribblings have the "vaspers" tag appended to them. NOT: "vaspers the grate". Why? Because YouTube foolishly has installed the Single Word Separated by Spaces regime of video tagging.

Single Word Separated by Space is stone cold stupid. It is so incredibly stupid, I don't know why I have to stop my daydreaming and post this angry article about it. Others should have beat me to it.

Tags must be more than single words, because information and entertainment cannot be classified according to single words. Multiple words are required.

EXAMPLES: web usability, brain surgery, rocket science, web content writing, family oriented humor, naughty blogging, business blogging, web analysis, mommy blogging, Islamo fascism, turkey stuffing, sour grapes, electronic music, noise music, tape get my drift.

Best Tag Methodology: words and phrases separated by commas.

Thus: vaspers the grate, web usability, and all the other multi-word classifications, all of 'em would be tags of more than one single word, and separated conveniently by the common comma.

Tag clouds at search engines (see my Swicki tag cloud in my sidebar) and tagging blog posts are good uses of the tag idea.

What tags would you use for your blog posts? You should use your name, aka, or company name. Then add just enough tags that you think users would type in to find your type of content. No more, no less.

How do we get around the dopey Single Word Separated by Spaces tag implementation? I suppose by forming ugly neologistical keyphrases, like "web-usability-analysis" and "CEOblogs" and "business-blogging". See how we are smashing unpaired words together in a hideous hybrid mess?

Or by truncating, as in "vaspers" instead of "vaspers the grate".


Loren Feldman said...

Great post. The dopiest system ever.

steven edward streight said...

Loren:- yeah, I cannot figure out how this Single Word Separated by Spaces idiocy of a methodology ever got past the user observation tests..., I guess they didn't do any such testing.

See why we must flame and attack every single thing that sucks? If we don't, the number of suckish things will balloon out of control and eventually the entire universe will suck.

That would suck.