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Homework Prompt: What are some of the weaknesses of tagging for making content more findable?

No, seriously: I did a semester of Cataloging and Classification and then a semester of ADVANCED Cataloging and Classification for this?! I have yet to get into tagging things. I think tagging can be really great for some things, especially images. Tagging uses the vernacular and you don’t need to go through all this just to change words and conform to a standard. But that’s the downside, too. What happens when terms change? Do people go through and re-tag everything on the internet that has been tagged already? Improbable. Perhaps even impossible.

Another weakness is British English spelling vs. American English spelling. Will my search for “humor” get me returns of things tagged “humour?” Unlikely (WordPress doesn’t even recognize the latter spelling). When I search for items by their tag, what I will get are the most popular (read: most viewed and most likely tagged) items. Nothing about the quality of the items is represented by the fact that they are tagged or not. Also, they may not be the most appropriate items, they just so happen to be the ones that people have taken the few seconds to tag. And of course, there’s the problem with a lack of controlled vocabulary which means that for the most part, I’ll only find things that are tagged using the same terms as my search terms and not necessarily things that are tagged using different words for the same item. Musicals vs. Showtunes vs. Broadway_musical vs. Musical_theatre vs. Musical_theater vs. Musical_comedy vs. Rock_opera vs. makeitstopalready! As I mentioned, tags can be very useful. I just wouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket. Unless everyone tagging everything happens to be a librarian. Hey, I’m biased!

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