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Peter Thoeny
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Roles People Play in a Wiki
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Value of Tagging Wiki Content
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Value of Tagging Wiki Content

First, what is "tagging"? Folksonomy is a term combining "folk" and "taxonomy", it refers to collaborative efforts to organize content with freely chosen keywords, typically called "tags". Tagging is mainly used on public websites, such as, a site where people can tag and bookmark their favorite web pages, Flickr, a photo sharing site, or Technorati, a site to tag blogs.

Tag cloud of TWiki extensions A tag cloud lists a set of tags, usually in alphabetical order, with more important/popular tags emphasized. The emphasizing is typically done with a larger font, as can be seen in the tag clouds of, Technorati and Flickr. The image to the right showns the tag cloud of the TWiki extensions on

Is there a value in tagging wiki content? It depends. It can be difficult to finding content in a wiki at the workplace that has been in use for a few years, especially if it has grown to 20,000 pages or more. Wikis have built-in search, but typically without good page ranking. Search can be improved to some degree if the wiki is indexed with a search engine. However, indexing an intranet and wiki does not necessarily lead to good search results due to inadequate ranking of search engines on intranets, which is caused by the relatively low number of cross-links between pages. Content tagging is one way to address the search issue.

Users can tag any wiki page with keywords, which allows them to access their own tags quickly. In a way bookmarking their favorite wiki pages. Every page shows the tags used by all users, which allows users to quickly access related pages.

Socialtext and Kwiki have simple tagging features. Tags called "keywords" are listed in the sidebar; new tags can be created very easily. Confluence calls them "labels", it has a neat way of showing a large set of tags arranged in boxes. TWiki's TagMePlugin goes a step further, offering a tag vote feature, where tagged pages get a "collective ranking". In other words, tags have a "tag count". The tag search page lists tagged pages ranked by tag count. That is, more popular pages are shown on top, as can be seen for example with the tag on blogging. has now 50,000 pages; some developers are discontent that they can't find content. TWiki has over 200 Plugins, users could not easily find a suitable Plugin. Tagging was introduced a few month ago on the wiki. Overall, the Plugins tag cloud makes it easier to find Plugins of interest. On the other hand, tagging developers content and documentation has been received with mixed results. Many important pages are tagged, which makes it easier to find content. Nevertheless, the tagging activity is done by just a handful of developers, out of a large community.

To summarize, there are benefits in tagging content in a large wiki:

  • Access my favorite pages quickly with my tags
  • Find relevant content in a large system
    • by quickly accessing related pages via the tags on a topic
    • by quickly accessing related pages via related tags listed in a tag search view
    • by quickly identifying important tags in the tag cloud
  • Solve the search ranking issue of wiki content indexed by a search engine
  • Help solve stale content issues (old topics do not get tagged)

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