Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Percent who tag

Some bloggers* has talked about my statement in When tags work and when they don’t, that:

“Tags work best when they’re about memory, so tagging makes the most sense when you have a lot of something to remember. On LibraryThing, members with under 50 books seldom tag, but users with 200 or more usually do.** When you get right down to it, few of us need to remember 200 books on Amazon. For most of us, the “wishlist” feature is good enough. We don’t need to sub-segment out the “anthropology” books.”

Here’s some data on that issue. I compared the number of books a LibraryThing member has with whether they tag or not. The later is defined as having at least one tag, so it over-represents taggers. But the trend is clear. The more you have to keep track of, the more you tag.

(click to enlarge)

*Notably, Thomas Vanderwal, who coined “folksonomy.” Vanderwal is giant. He makes some criticisms of my post that I agree with—I wrote pretty rapidly and off-the-cuff. And some I don’t. I have not been watching Amazon’s tagging month by month as Thomas has, but his points don’t change my mind. Even with half the time—and remembering that LibraryThing was dead-obscure for much of it’s life—and any other caveats and nuances one applies, Amazon’s tagging experiment hasn’t worked out. If it worked, they’d be swimming in high-quality tags. They aren’t, and they’ve been distracting customers and burning up valuable screen space to acquire a web of meaning so flimsy as to be largely useless for its ends. Anyway, I hope to get a reply out soon.
**You’ll note my qualifiers are a bit off. But my impressions match the facts better insofar as the numbers above overplay taggers. In theory, I could set a bar—X% of books are tagged. But that would miss some people who catalog first, tag second. I’ve seen that a lot—although I’d go mad if I delayed it like that! Those people are taggers too.

Post footnotem: Anyone have an explanation for why tagging dips at 200-250? People who hit the free-200 wall, get frustrated and leave before tagging?

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