Archive for the ‘Bookmarking’ Category

Survey on Social Tagging Techniques

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Survey on Social Tagging Techniques Authors: Manish Gupta, Rui Li, Zhijun Yin, Jiawei Han Keywords: Social tagging, bookmarking, tagging, social indexing, social classification, collaborative tagging, folksonomy, folk classification, ethnoclassification, distributed classification, folk taxonomy


Social tagging on online portals has become a trend now. It has emerged as one of the best ways of associating metadata with web objects. With the increase in the kinds of web objects becoming available, collaborative tagging of such objects is also developing along new dimensions. This popularity has led to a vast literature on social tagging. In this survey paper, we would like to summarize different techniques employed to study various aspects of tagging. Broadly, we would discuss about properties of tag streams, tagging models, tag semantics, generating recommendations using tags, visualizations of tags, applications of tags and problems associated with tagging usage. We would discuss topics like why people tag, what influences the choice of tags, how to model the tagging process, kinds of tags, different power laws observed in tagging domain, how tags are created, how to choose the right tags for recommendation, etc. We conclude with thoughts on future work in the area.

I recommend this survey in part due to its depth but also for not lacking a viewpoint:

…But fixed static taxonomies are rigid, conservative, and centralized. [cite omitted]…Hierarchical classifications are influenced by the cataloguer’s view of the world and, as a consequence, are affected by subjectivity and cultural bias. Rigid hierarchical classification systems cannot easily keep up with an increasing and evolving corpus of items…By their very nature, hierarchies tend to establish only one consistent, authoritative structured vision. This implies a loss of precision, erases differences of expression, and does not take into account the variety of user needs and views.

I am not innocent of having made similar arguments in other contexts. It makes good press among the young and dissatisfied, it doesn’t bear up to close scrutiny.

For example, the claim is made that “hierarchical classifications” are “affected by subjectivity and cultural bias.” The implied claim is that social tagging is not. Yes? I would argue that all classification, hierarchical and otherwise is affected by “subjectivity and cultural bias.”


  1. Choose one of the other claims about hierarchical classifications. Is is also true of social tagging? Why/Why not? (3-5 pages, no citations)
  2. Choose a social tagging practice. What are its strengths/weaknesses? (3-5 pages, no citations)
  3. How would you use topic maps with the social tagging practice in #2? (3-5 pages, no citations)