Folksonomy v/s Taxonomy

12 May 2006 - 8:45am
7 years ago
6 replies
657 reads
Vishal Subraman...
2005

In my case, I need to categorize user created lists of places/
organizations. I can either have user defined categories or use tags.

My obvious concern with tags is that the use of synonyms can potentially
fracture the usefulness of the data and creation of meta-noise. For Eg.
if the users are creating a list of high-schools- they could be
potentially tagged as schools, school, educational institution etc. But
it does work well in Flickr/delicious etc.

So..when do I use one over the other?

Vishal
http://www.vishaliyer.com/

Comments

12 May 2006 - 9:11am
James Melzer
2004

My two cents, based on nothing but my own analysis of del.icio.us and
other free tools:

1) If you have over a hundred thousand users, then a folksonomy could
be useful. You need a huge crowd to drown out the noise of a
folksonomy and extract any useful value. The only exception to this
size requirement is if your user pool is a population of librarians
(or similar).

2) If you have a user experience model where the user has major
incentives to tag things, then a folksonomy could be useful. For
example, literally tie tagging practices to annual bonuses. Or
alternately, provide people with game-like or social incentives, like
public recognition for good practices, hidden rewards, or tag groupies
(er... I mean RSS).

3) If you have a fast-changing field/domain AND hundreds of thousands
of resources that you do not control. Del.icio.us took off precisely
because things like news or web design are very hard to describe and
very hard to keep up with. But if your project is for a corporate
intranet, you know precisely what the domain is and you have a fairly
good handle on the resources.

Otherwise, I'd say forget it. Taxonomy is better. It provides
precision, explanation and control.

~ James

--
James Melzer
http://www.jamesmelzer.com
http://del.icio.us/jamesmelzer

12 May 2006 - 9:47am
Thomas Vander Wal
2004

It is far from an either or. Folksonomies do not need hundreds of
thousands of users to make them work. A few hundred in on intranets
have made it work quite well.

The best approach by far is a marriage of folksonomy and taxonomy.
Both are far from perfect on their own.

Use the folksonomy to provide your initial collection. Keep it
running to validate the taxonomy over time, identify gaps as well as
emergent vocabulary, and use it to offer up the terms to fill in the
gaps (for free, none-the-less).

Taxonomy is good for providing a consistant structure, which can breed
enculturation and help firm up the terminology in a discipline. For
those that feel they need heirarchy the taxonomy is helpful, and it
takes a person to build the heirarchy (at this point).

The important thing to remember with folksonomy, ones that serve the
user/consumer first, is that each term is that person's expert
assessment for what will make it easy to bring that item back to them
when they need it.

All the best,
Thomas

On 5/12/06, James Melzer <jamesmelzer at gmail.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> My two cents, based on nothing but my own analysis of del.icio.us and
> other free tools:
>
> 1) If you have over a hundred thousand users, then a folksonomy could
> be useful. You need a huge crowd to drown out the noise of a
> folksonomy and extract any useful value. The only exception to this
> size requirement is if your user pool is a population of librarians
> (or similar).
>
> 2) If you have a user experience model where the user has major
> incentives to tag things, then a folksonomy could be useful. For
> example, literally tie tagging practices to annual bonuses. Or
> alternately, provide people with game-like or social incentives, like
> public recognition for good practices, hidden rewards, or tag groupies
> (er... I mean RSS).
>
> 3) If you have a fast-changing field/domain AND hundreds of thousands
> of resources that you do not control. Del.icio.us took off precisely
> because things like news or web design are very hard to describe and
> very hard to keep up with. But if your project is for a corporate
> intranet, you know precisely what the domain is and you have a fairly
> good handle on the resources.
>
> Otherwise, I'd say forget it. Taxonomy is better. It provides
> precision, explanation and control.
>
> ~ James
>
>
>
> --
> James Melzer
> http://www.jamesmelzer.com
> http://del.icio.us/jamesmelzer
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

12 May 2006 - 11:31am
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

A folksonomy does not work well in an absolute sense for Flickr and
others. It only works well on average for an average number of persons
doing typical things in a very large population.

I have had good luck in looking for typical images in Flickr, but the
moment I stepped away from the average, in looking for things like
colugos or fossas for instance, I might as well have been doing a
search on "animals" and/or "zoo"

The condition would be worse with a small or medium sized population of
users.

Alain Vaillancourt

--- Vishal iyer <iyervish at msu.edu> a écrit :

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> In my case, I need to categorize user created lists of places/
> organizations. I can either have user defined categories or use tags.
>
> My obvious concern with tags is that the use of synonyms can
> potentially
> fracture the usefulness of the data and creation of meta-noise. For
> Eg.
> if the users are creating a list of high-schools- they could be
> potentially tagged as schools, school, educational institution etc.
> But
> it does work well in Flickr/delicious etc.
>
> So..when do I use one over the other?
>
> Vishal
> http://www.vishaliyer.com/
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

12 May 2006 - 12:12pm
Todd Roberts
2005

Vishal, I would say the classification system depends on several things: the
goal of the product, the goals of the people using the product, the
anticipated size of the vocabulary, anticipated variation in vocabulary
between users, anticipated number of users, the structure of the metadata,
etc.

It sounds like the question is two dimensional: 1. single- vs. multi-faceted
classification and 2. controlled vs. free vocabulary. Single-faceted
classification systems are good when something fits neatly into one
category. Multi-faceted classifications are good when the data has multiple
attributes that users would want to look at, e.g. show me all structures
that are historic landmarks AND houses. Controlled vocabularies are good if
the users will generally use the same word to describe a concept or the
range of options is small enough as to be browseable or if the options can
be easily "thesaurused" to point to similar terms. Free vocabularies are
good when categories are fuzzy or if you have a lot of users and a large
possible vocabulary.

This is way over-simplified, but hopefully gives you something to think
about.

12 May 2006 - 1:25pm
dcooney at umich.edu
2006

Quoting James Melzer <jamesmelzer at gmail.com>:
>
> 2) If you have a user experience model where the user has major
> incentives to tag things, then a folksonomy could be useful. For
> example, literally tie tagging practices to annual bonuses. Or
> alternately, provide people with game-like or social incentives, like
> public recognition for good practices, hidden rewards, or tag groupies
> (er... I mean RSS).

I've always presumed one of the essential elements of success for the
recent systems that use tags was that adding a tag was useful to ME
first (as a re-finding tool), and the collective knowledge (emergent
folksonomy), sharing, or collaborative filtering tools were secondary.
By getting that personal information management element right, the tool
is useful without the social element, and I will have reason to use it
outside of any network effects. That I get a personal benefit from
using the tool alone (better than previous "favorites", bookmarks, or
other single-faceted schemes etc.), is precisely what makes it so easy
for these systems to realize the growth that leads to network effects.

> ...But if your project is for a corporate
> intranet, you know precisely what the domain is and you have a fairly
> good handle on the resources.

depends on the size of the corporation. Some of them are rather large
and have so many disciplines within them that knowing what is happening
on the other side of the org. chart, or simply in a related group, can
be quite a challenge.

Dan Cooney

12 May 2006 - 3:41pm
Vishal Subraman...
2005

Thomas Vander Wal, are you the same person who coined the term Folksonomy?

> It sounds like the question is two dimensional: 1. single- vs.
multi-faceted
> classification and 2. controlled vs. free vocabulary.

Todd...your questions do help a lot in making the decision.

Are there some types of data that naturally lean towards Folksonomy (and
vice versa)? For Eg. say the data is community resources (libraries,
education institutions, Voluntary organiuzations, schools etc), am I
correct in assuming that a taxonomy (user defined) would be more
appropriate than Folksonomy.

Does user defined taxonomy still count as taxonomy? And how does it
compare with
> Use the folksonomy to provide your initial collection. Keep it
> running to validate the taxonomy over time, identify gaps as well as
> emergent vocabulary, and use it to offer up the terms to fill in the
> gaps (for free, none-the-less).
Which one of the two is collabulary?

Vishal
http://www.vishaliyer.com/

Todd Roberts wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Vishal, I would say the classification system depends on several things: the
> goal of the product, the goals of the people using the product, the
> anticipated size of the vocabulary, anticipated variation in vocabulary
> between users, anticipated number of users, the structure of the metadata,
> etc.
>
> It sounds like the question is two dimensional: 1. single- vs. multi-faceted
> classification and 2. controlled vs. free vocabulary. Single-faceted
> classification systems are good when something fits neatly into one
> category. Multi-faceted classifications are good when the data has multiple
> attributes that users would want to look at, e.g. show me all structures
> that are historic landmarks AND houses. Controlled vocabularies are good if
> the users will generally use the same word to describe a concept or the
> range of options is small enough as to be browseable or if the options can
> be easily "thesaurused" to point to similar terms. Free vocabularies are
> good when categories are fuzzy or if you have a lot of users and a large
> possible vocabulary.
>
> This is way over-simplified, but hopefully gives you something to think
> about.
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

Syndicate content Get the feed