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  • Tagging people
  • Consumating: tags as communication
  • No one gets tags

Tagging people

Boundary studies are nice for figuring out where something doesn’t
work and why it doesn’t work. I’ve been thinking about where tagging
and folksonomies break down for my FIS paper. Some of the cases I’ve
been looking at involve web services where you tag people.

Tagalag is a no-frills system for tagging
people. It doesn’t really offer anything in the way of immediate
personal incentive. In fact, the only thing you can do with it aside
from tagging people (e-mail address required) is put your XML feeds
together in an OPML list for easy aggregation. Very bare, and very few
users.

43people allows users to track whom
they’ve met and whom they want to meet. Popular tags include
occupation, gender, nationality, and location. Tags are also used to
describe characteristics such as “funny”, “glasses”, and “brilliant”.
This shows tagging as a clear faceted classification. “Find people
also tagged with…” makes it easier for people to search for
interesting combinations, and you can narrow the search to the current
city. Usual problems with keywords: “smart” vs “intelligent”, etc.
Particular problem: funny vs hilarious, relativity.

Consumating is the weirdest. It’s a
dating site with a much broader audience than the other two sites, and
you can tell that from the tags. The most popular tags follow the tag
profile of 43people, but the recent tags look like one-off tags used
for communication. That said, Consumating makes good use of tags in
conjunction with polls, prompting people to keep refining their
profile every week.

So: tagging other people is still a bit weird, but shows a bit of the
folksonomic piles-of-leaves flattened faceted classification. Tagging
one’s self, on the other hand, is more of self-expression, ad guiding
it with questions is pretty effective.

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Random Japanese sentence: すると、少し先に、またもう一匹、ふわふわした灰色のねこがめにつきました。そしてこれも前の二匹と全く同じくらいかわいいのです。 But then he saw a fuzzy gray cat over here which was every bit as pretty as the others, so he took it too.

Consumating: tags as communication

Ah, I see! People could be using tags for messaging in order to get
around Consumating’s message limits. Or maybe it’s spam. Argh.

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No one gets tags

<sigh> I got too attached to the title “Folksonomies of Folks”
for my Metadata Schemas and Applications paper (due tomorrow – that
is, in 11 hours!). As a result, I find myself now writing a paper on
tagging and folksonomies in online dating sites.

They suck. They all suck. I’m serious. There are a few good ideas, but
generally they suck.

VerbDate throws the term “tag” around,
but it, like, _so_ doesn’t get it. Heck, there aren’t enough tag-savvy
users, so one of the ‘popular’ tags is “looking for a guy who can make
me laugh and is not still living with his parents”. There’s no way to
get a cloud of just the most popular tags – you have to know what
you’re looking for. There’s no easy way to add tags to yourself. And
here’s the most brain-dead thing of all: you can’t tag other people’s
profiles! No tagging, no folksonomies, nothing. Zilch.

RogueConnect‘s stuck with its fashion focus. Not bad, but too visually-oriented for any real depth. Unless you’re the kind of person who likes only Armani-wearing people, that is. Or at least people who say they wear Armani. The only interesting thing here is that the site creator’s noticed people are more comfy tagging blog posts than they are tagging people, so that’s something cool there. But tags aren’t front-and-center on people’s profiles, and they’re anonymous. So no folksonomy for you, either.

ConsuMating _almost_ got it right with
weekly polls and questions to encourage people to keep developing
their profiles. Then the service shoots itself in the foot with its
business model limiting you to 10 free messages per month, which naturally
drives all these users to make tags their free communication tool,
polluting the tagspace for individual users and making it imposssible
to get a quick idea of someone’s interests. Oh, you can’t tag someone
with a tag they already have, so you can’t see who else thought
someone was cool, so you can’t follow the links to find out whom else
_they_ thought was cool, so you can just forget about social
filtering. Heck, you can’t even pull up a list of the people _you_
tagged cool. Not that there are ever any cool people on these social
networking websites.

It’s all messed up. And to think CNet actually bought consumating,
sucky domain aside…

Aiyah.

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Random Japanese sentence: 犬か猫か鶏を飼うようにしなさい。 Try getting a dog, a cat or a chicken.