2019-04-19 On tagging blog posts

I was talking to @dredmorbius who was mulling the categories to use for a blog.

This is hard. I approach tagging from the perspective of “given this post, what other posts would a reader be interested in” – and from this perspective administration is different from politics of course, but what’s the difference between copyright and patents on my blog, if we care about grouping by usefulness (in my peculiar sense) and not ontology? In this case, the fact that they are both very different is not a useful category for the reader interested in all sorts of intellectual property issues.

I think trying to use labels as a way to structure human knowledge and applying this to a blog, like a library, like an encyclopedia, is probably the wrong approach. In the much more limited world of a blog writer and reader, these ontologies are sometimes overly specific or useless given that I am Alex and you are you and you know the things I write about. So, given that you are looking at a blog post of mine, will the labels it has help you find the other articles you want to read? We need to make assumptions about inner states, intents, and all of that.

I think sometimes we have the tendency to use a Dewey or Linnaeus style labeling system that describes the world but leaves the granularity up to the reader. Like, I almost never want to talk about specific plant species when talking about pictures. “Hippeastrum” (the genus) is fine. But other readers might still find the tag “Hippeastrum” useless because I am assuming they are interested in colorful plant pictures (thus, a broader interest). A tag like “Plants” is more useful for my blog. The labels I use need to reflect the discoverability needs of myself and my readers. I need to ask myself the question: given an interest in A, would it ever make sense to not be interested in B? If an interest in my blog and A most often implies an interest in B, then perhaps A and B should not be two different labels on my blog, for my readers (clearly not a usable thought for libraries).

Thus, the need to merge tags: it probably makes no sense for me and my readers to differentiate between copyright and patents because even though there are differences, legally, culturally, economically, historically, for the context of my blog and my readers it makes no difference.

I’m not going to reorganize my blog any time soon but those posts by @dredmorbius made me think about the tags I use. 🤔

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