A quiet moment for me
A quiet moment for me
posted 17 Dec ’05, 11.38pm MST PST on flickr

In the middle of nowhere, so silent you can only hear the blood flowing through your ears. Good job a car is nearby or I’d be in trouble.

Hi, my name is Alan, and I am a compulsive del.icio.us tagger.

Just for some idle curiosity, I looked for my first tags- my home there said I was on “page 1 of 133”, so doing some quick math, with 25 links per view (usually I set it at 100, but I recently cleaned cookies), I got at something over 3300 web sites tagged.

So I dug back to the first screen by forcing the URL http://del.icio.us/cogdog?page=133, where in fact, it told me I had 3316.

My first site was tagged October 6, 2004, roughly 1125 days ago. So my tag rate has been 2.7 sites tpd (tagged per day).

For more trivia the oldest three sites where:

And the whole crowd thing suggests folksonomy works based on the collective activity of lots of other taggers.

I’ve spent effort that last few years building resource collections and trying to get people to tag conference stuff. I’ve pushed it heavily to tag content, examples, seeds for our NMC Horizon Project with a good number of things tagged in 2007. And we put out public requests this year for anyone to funnel web content to this year’s process as well via our horizon tag.

I know there are lots of folks who are good at getting groups of people tagging, like Beth Kanter’s NpTech tag.

But I am most curious about what sorts of percentages are optimal, or even what one can expect, for active tagging towards a project? It’s one thing for a class, where students may be tagging for ppoints, but volunteer tagging, IMHO, has been rather frustrating in that I feel I end up doing about 90% of the tagging.

I’m even loathe to blog this, as now some of my colleagues will be tagging perhaps by guilt, but even among the technology oriented folks on this year’s Horizon Project, the tag flow has been, well lonely.

So my bottom line rant is- although a lot of people, among the net population, are taggers, it is still a rather out on the long tail activity, and regular tagging is not… to me, very widely practiced.

Am I wrong? I’m sure there are exceptions. Does it matter? Would we want a lot of tag noise via many hands on the tagging pool? What is optimal? What is realistic?

So I’m still tagging my 2.7 sites per day, but often, it is pretty damned lonely.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. I’m a lonely tagger too, though at least now lots of events are encouraging people to tag photos/videos/blog posts about the event with a common tag. Coming up with that beforehand seems to be key to getting people to use the same one, and even then constant vigilance is needed to keep folk from inventing multiple tags for the same event. Tagging is good. Keep up the lonely work, dog.

  2. I’m a pretty regular tagger (not as prolific as you, with only 2263 bookmarks tagged, at ~1.9 tags per day – but I have been tagging longer than you! ;-). I follow your tags, appreciate the links you send my way – you’ve shown me a bunch of stuff I’d have missed otherwise. I suppose I’m a selfish tagger, though. I tag primarily for my own use. Does that impact other people? don’t know. on one level, that doesn’t really matter. I’m selfish, remember? but, I like to delude myself by thinking that by contributing to the Great Tag Cloud, even quietly, I’m somehow contributing. Not sure how accurate that is…

    …anyhoo… your tagging is useful. you’re a role model. keep it up!

  3. Alan,
    I recently del.icio.us-ed this post,
    …which ends with, “I say no, tagging isn’t stuck. Just don’t try and make it the primary thing to do. Instead, make sure personal value precedes network value. Then you’ll have plenty to aggregate.”

    I’m a recent follower of you (via Twitter) and I love delicious! I have a student who is teaching me how to ‘mine’ it for resources using rss and searching ‘Popular’ links. Until recently tagging has been very personal. I for one, would tag for a task/group/network. I often use the ‘for’ (ie for:cogdog’) tag to ‘give’ others links of interest… this is especially handy now that delicious shows you that you have links waiting for you… and I could easily use a tag if I am requested to do so.
    The next time you would like tagging done for a network let me know… but I’m roughly at 1.3 tags a day, so they will come slowly from me;-)

  4. Hello my name is Susan and I’m a tagaholic. Your post prompted me to do some math and it seems I tag on average 3.1 sites a day. Enjoyed re-finding my first set of tags from May 2006. Unfortunately for such an avid tagger I’m hopelessly tagging challenged, never seem to use the same tag twice and thus have ended up with a long list of excellent sites that I can never find when I need them.
    Recently I have started using tags as a way of adding a recommended sites list to a Ning network by RSS – 2 other members are tagging along with me, my other attempts at getting a group to tag have been quite futile.
    Like David I’d happily push tags your way – just tweet susant

  5. Maybe tagging was just a phenomenon that moved metadata creation from hardcore pros like librarians to somewhat less specialized and far less qualified people like ourselves… but not much further.

    But I’m reminded of something you often say about Web 2.0 apps — that they allow us to meet our own selfish needs, and there’s a bonus collaborative payoff… and every now and then that payoff is a jackpot.

  6. Well I know people that bother to leave blog comments are not the ones I am talking about. And I know that among the general populace, that tagging on a broad scale is a pipe dream of sorts.

    I’m talking about a large segment of people in the ed tech field, who are active and keen, but maybe not in the social software space, who just dont tag. I’m talking about some clued in colleagues. And if I talk anymore, I might just start shaming, which is not the goal.

    I’d really like to know if there is research into projects where they’ve looked at participatory amounts of tag activity.

  7. I think it’s at least partially a result of tagging being a geekish thing initially. Dragging a bookmarklet to a bookmark bar, then remembering to click that to add a bookmark, etc…

    But, software is catching up, and getting out to more people. Flock has built-in del.icio.us tagging support, and a giant star button to trigger it. And other software is adding it – Blogbridge has a “pin” feature that can automatically send a feed item to del.icio.us for tagging. It’s becoming as easy, or easier, than not tagging. That’s where it’ll start to take off. When someone says “why wouldn’t I just tag that? it takes too long to save a bookmark…” then it’ll go to the next wave of adoption.

    And a focus on “what’s in it for me” will help, too. Tag so stuff is available to you (and also others) from anywhere. No more bookmark files to sync or backup (or live with being out of sync). And if someone else gets some benefit, so be it.

  8. Hi Alan,

    This is a great reflection. I have 3300 resources in del.icio.us. My first tags were cambodian culture resources starting in April 2005.

    We managed to hack del.icio.us and get some stats on nptech tag in del.ici.ous. And what we learned

    2400 accounts used nptech tag
    5% were super taggers – more than 100 items tagged
    10% had between 25-100
    the rest were less than 25, many only 1 item

    So, this sort of breaks out along the lines of the lurking ratio in online communities.

    For NpTech Tag – I think there’s an incentive to tag because a resource may get in the summary. People read the summary and visit those links.

    About a year ago, David Weinberger contributed to a pew research report about tagging – I think they found the same numbers – anyway he said, you only need a small percentage of “lonely taggers” to make tagging work for everyone.

    So, there are different roles in the tagging ecosystem.

    That’s my 2 cents

  9. Thanks Beth- that was worth may more than 2 cents… and it confirms my hunch is that a small number of small, lonely rudders steer the big ships, and thats okay.

    And there are other roles- the people who syndicate tagged content, people who follow links from it, people who share what they discover to other outlets- “ecosystem” is the perfect noun.

  10. Hi, lonely Tagger,

    would you like explain to me what does mean” tag or tagging?” I just understand you are lonely for that and someone also following you, sorry for this stupid question, but I hope I can get answer from you! if you have time please mail to me to explain it for me, I just know i am like you just lonely….

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