12 votes

Geographical tags

Tags: tags

People are regularly using regional tags like "south america", "europe", "asia", and "africa" on posts... but almost never "north america". If we're going to use tags based on continents, should we be consistent and include North America as one of those tags?

On the other hand, are continental tags even relevant? Should we just drop them, and use only country-specific tags?

(previous discussion)


There are a lot of "eu" tags being used, which leads to ambiguity about whether it's "europe" or "european union".

I think we should stop using "eu" entirely, and use only the longer, more informative, tags.

(previous discussion)


EDIT: Typo.

23 comments

  1. [13]
    Deimos
    Link
    Personally, I would only use a tag like "africa" if the topic was relevant to the whole continent for some reason. I think country-level is a good cutoff point if we're just trying to specify...

    Personally, I would only use a tag like "africa" if the topic was relevant to the whole continent for some reason. I think country-level is a good cutoff point if we're just trying to specify where a story happened.

    I don't think I've been consistent about choosing between "eu" and "european union". I don't feel too strongly either way, but it is a pretty significant difference in length. I think EU is a pretty well-known and established acronym that it would be reasonable to use, similar to choosing to use "usa" and "uk" tags instead of the full names for those countries.

    10 votes
    1. [12]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      I entirely agree. However, people are using regional/continental tags, and "north america" is notable by its absence. ;) Catt made what I thought was a good point in one of the previous...

      I think country-level is a good cutoff point if we're just trying to specify where a story happened.

      I entirely agree.

      However, people are using regional/continental tags, and "north america" is notable by its absence. ;)

      I think EU is a pretty well-known and established acronym that it would be reasonable to use, similar to choosing to use "usa" and "uk" tags instead of the full names for those countries.

      Catt made what I thought was a good point in one of the previous discussions I linked: we should avoid tags of fewer than 3 letters. I'm even uncomfortable with "uk" because it's only 2 letters long.

      1 vote
      1. [11]
        json
        Link Parent
        If 3 letters should be a minimum, then for country specific tags we should be looking at ISO-3166-1 Alpha 3. Similarly, there are the Olympic and FIFA country codes.

        If 3 letters should be a minimum, then for country specific tags we should be looking at ISO-3166-1 Alpha 3. Similarly, there are the Olympic and FIFA country codes.

        3 votes
        1. [10]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          I know. :) But, just because 3 letters is a good minimum, that doesn't mean it should also be a maximum. There's no reason we can't use tags like "china" and "france" and "brazil", or even "united...

          I know. :)

          But, just because 3 letters is a good minimum, that doesn't mean it should also be a maximum. There's no reason we can't use tags like "china" and "france" and "brazil", or even "united kingdom" if we want.

          1 vote
          1. [9]
            cfabbro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Yes there is... longer tags take up more horizontal space (and often vertical space, especially on mobile). Hence eu > europe, uk > united kingdom, usa > united states of america, etc... for...

            There's no reason we can't use tags like "china" and "france" and brazil", or even "united kingdom" if we want.

            Yes there is... longer tags take up more horizontal space (and often vertical space, especially on mobile). Hence eu > europe, uk > united kingdom, usa > united states of america, etc... for country/continental tags, IMO.

            At some point tags might get synonymized, tag number limits set, a fold mechanic added for overage, and a mechanism to show only the shortened versions on mobile implemented, but for now I would highly recommend sticking to the short versions for general use. A database find/replace can always be done later to "correct" them to the longer standard if/when that is decided on.

            p.s. Example of why synonymized tags, shortest possible tags, tag number limits and a fold for tag number overage, are a good idea:
            https://tildes.net/search?q=Sack+of+Constantinople+1204+-+Fourth+Crusade+%7C+Kings+and+Generals
            (and yes, I did that to annoy Deimos ;)

            2 votes
            1. [3]
              Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              I wasn't trying to suggest that we should use the longest tags possible! Even I agree that "united states of america" is unwieldy and unnecessary. I was just trying to say (as I've said before)...

              I wasn't trying to suggest that we should use the longest tags possible! Even I agree that "united states of america" is unwieldy and unnecessary.

              I was just trying to say (as I've said before) that we shouldn't impose brevity and blindly follow rules at the expense of usefulness and readability. "European Union" is more useful than "eu", because "eu" might also stand for Europe, which is different. And "north korea" and "south korea" are more useful than "prk" and "kor". The tags need to be readable by humans, more than by computer databases.

              That topic of yours is just ridiculous! (In the most fun possible way.)

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                Tygrak
                Link Parent
                Well if you want to use European Union instead of EU why should we use USA instead of United States of America. And no, EU doesn't also stand for Europe - if we want to make sure nobody uses the...

                Well if you want to use European Union instead of EU why should we use USA instead of United States of America. And no, EU doesn't also stand for Europe - if we want to make sure nobody uses the acronyms incorrectly than we should just ban all acronyms.

                1. Algernon_Asimov
                  Link Parent
                  Don't tempt me! :P I'm not a fan of initialisms, including acronyms. They're ambiguous, and opaque to the uninformed. If I'm talking about the WWF, am I referring to sports or wildlife? If I'm...

                  we should just ban all acronyms.

                  Don't tempt me! :P

                  I'm not a fan of initialisms, including acronyms. They're ambiguous, and opaque to the uninformed. If I'm talking about the WWF, am I referring to sports or wildlife? If I'm working PC-style, am I avoiding giving offence, using a computer - or even helping the constabulary? Is LOL a computer game, an expression of jollity, or am I developing feelings for you? Is TOS part of a contract, or one of my favourite television shows? Is the EU a geopolitical entity, or a collection of novels and comics related to Star Wars? One of my favourite initialisms is "FTSOF"; what am I talking about?

                  Despite this, I realise that my personal preferences aren't everyone else's personal preferences, so I'm not going to be as stupid or unreasonable as to demand that we ban all initialisms.

                  I can still ask that we reduce the use of initialisms which might be ambiguous, though.

                  1 vote
            2. [5]
              Elronnd
              Link Parent
              The problem with short tags is that they can have different meanings in specific contexts. For instance, you can say eu is europe, but on /r/writingprompts eu means 'established universe'; what...

              The problem with short tags is that they can have different meanings in specific contexts. For instance, you can say eu is europe, but on /r/writingprompts eu means 'established universe'; what should become then?

              1 vote
              1. [4]
                Deimos
                Link Parent
                That's not exclusive to acronyms and abbreviations though, words can have different meanings in different contexts as well. For example, if I tag something "python" in ~comp, that would mean...

                That's not exclusive to acronyms and abbreviations though, words can have different meanings in different contexts as well. For example, if I tag something "python" in ~comp, that would mean something entirely different than if I used the same tag in some hypothetical ~misc.animals.snakes group.

                And that's fine, I think. It's probably best if tags can try to be unambiguous in the current group (and maybe any subgroups), but they don't need to be unique site-wide.

                1 vote
                1. [3]
                  Elronnd
                  Link Parent
                  I don't know about that. Some tags definitely will be unique site-wide. Consider 'news'—that means the same thing in pretty much any group: news relevant to that group. Should there not be...

                  I don't know about that. Some tags definitely will be unique site-wide. Consider 'news'—that means the same thing in pretty much any group: news relevant to that group. Should there not be consistency?

                  1. [2]
                    Deimos
                    Link Parent
                    No, I think as long as the meaning is clear in context, it doesn't need to be universal. Nobody in ~comp is going to think I'm posting about snakes if a topic is tagged with "python", and we don't...

                    No, I think as long as the meaning is clear in context, it doesn't need to be universal. Nobody in ~comp is going to think I'm posting about snakes if a topic is tagged with "python", and we don't need to increase the complexity of tagging solely to avoid collisions.

                    2 votes
  2. json
    Link
    european union - probably makes sense for the discussion relating to member states, brexit crap, Article 13, etc. europe - includes non-EU members or general continental discussion. Perhaps...

    european union - probably makes sense for the discussion relating to member states, brexit crap, Article 13, etc.

    europe - includes non-EU members or general continental discussion. Perhaps including UK regardless of EU membership.

    5 votes
  3. [9]
    pard68
    Link
    Considering that a European member state has the rough equivalence to a state in the United States, might even want to consider specifying the state when appropriate. In the US states are pretty...

    Considering that a European member state has the rough equivalence to a state in the United States, might even want to consider specifying the state when appropriate. In the US states are pretty different so it would make sense.

    1 vote
    1. [8]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      Many USA-related topics do identify the state as well. The convention here is for the tag to be concatenated, with the state abbreviation following "usa", such as: usa.il usa.ky usa.ca usa.ny

      Many USA-related topics do identify the state as well. The convention here is for the tag to be concatenated, with the state abbreviation following "usa", such as:

      4 votes
      1. pard68
        Link Parent
        ah, I haven't actually [seen|noticed] the tags. Thanks for the heads up!

        ah, I haven't actually [seen|noticed] the tags. Thanks for the heads up!

        1 vote
      2. [6]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        I know it's written out in the unofficial wiki, but do you have a link to previous discussions where that convention was decided? I would like to read it. In the case of New York, California, and...

        I know it's written out in the unofficial wiki, but do you have a link to previous discussions where that convention was decided? I would like to read it.

        In the case of New York, California, and Texas, there are more topics tagged with just the state name, like texas, than the system you mentioned, usa.tx.

        I actually like the usa.tx system more than separate usa and texas tags, but for something that's supposed to be a convention, not many people are following it.

        1. [5]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          It was never decided, as such. It was suggested, and then some of us who actively edit/add tags just started doing it, until it became more popular over time. A convention is nothing more than...

          do you have a link to previous discussions where that convention was decided? I would like to read it.

          It was never decided, as such. It was suggested, and then some of us who actively edit/add tags just started doing it, until it became more popular over time. A convention is nothing more than whatever most people do most often.

          As for not many people doing this, remember that Tildes is continually attracting new users, most of whom do not read historical threads in ~tildes or read the unofficial wiki. They just do whatever they feel like - or, in some cases, what they see other people doing. I have seen some newcomers add "usa.tx" style tags to their topics without ever being involved in discussions about this. And, from observation of what tags are getting changed and how, it seems that tag editors are generally in agreement on this particular style of tag. But we don't see every topic, and we don't change every tag.

          2 votes
          1. [4]
            hungariantoast
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            "Convention" doesn't only mean what is popular, it can also mean what is agreed upon, through decision making. Every collaborative tagging or categorization project I know of refers to a...

            "Convention" doesn't only mean what is popular, it can also mean what is agreed upon, through decision making.

            Every collaborative tagging or categorization project I know of refers to a "convention" as something that was agreed to, or decided upon, not necessarily the most popular practice. If Deimos hasn't himself said that the practice you mentioned is the standard one, then fine, no decision has been made.

            As for not many people doing this, remember that Tildes is continually attracting new users, most of whom do not read historical threads in ~tildes or read the unofficial wiki.

            Yes, new users are new, but if we're going to have tagging conventions for the site, they need to be the most popular choice. I'm not saying the most popular choice becomes the convention, but that the convention that is decided upon should be made the most popular one through curation. Currently, the practice that you're saying is the convention is not the most popular choice for some states. It might not even be the most popular choice when considering all the topics with geographic tags. That's a minor problem.

            They just do whatever they feel like - or, in some cases, what they see other people doing.

            Which is all the more reason to make the convention the most popular practice.


            I'm guessing you don't have any links to where the convention was suggested? If not, it's no big deal. I'm sure I can find it.

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              I apologise for using the word "convention" which appears to have raised false expectations in your mind. Let me be clearer. I suggested this approach. Someone else agreed it was good. I've been...

              Every collaborative tagging or categorization project I know of refers to a "convention" as something that was agreed to, or decided upon, not necessarily the most popular practice.

              I apologise for using the word "convention" which appears to have raised false expectations in your mind. Let me be clearer. I suggested this approach. Someone else agreed it was good. I've been tagging posts this way: posts I make, and posts other people make. It has been gaining in popularity. I've seen people who weren't present during the original conversation starting to use it, but other people don't use it. There is, as yet, no standardisation of ANY tag usage on Tildes. It's all "making it up as we go along". And, until Deimos implements the auto-complete feature for tags, tags will remain non-standardised. We're relying on individual tag editors to manually change non-standard tags, which means that not all tags will be standardised. You can use whatever word you want to use to describe this situation, if "convention" isn't the right word.

              I'm guessing you don't have any links to where the convention was suggested?

              Given that, based on my research, I think I was the one who first suggested this approach, it feels like I'm big-noting myself, which is why I was reluctant to link to that. And it was only a side-discussion in a discussion about a different issue.

              2 votes
              1. [2]
                hungariantoast
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                I just want to be clear, the only reason I bothered making a fuss about the word "convention" is because you began your other comment with pedantry and I felt like I had to respond. Like I had to...

                I just want to be clear, the only reason I bothered making a fuss about the word "convention" is because you began your other comment with pedantry and I felt like I had to respond. Like I had to defend the meaning and my use of that word.

                There is, as yet, no standardisation of ANY tag usage on Tildes.

                Thank you, this was what I was wondering about.

                Given that, based on my research, I think I was the one who first suggested this approach, it feels like I'm big-noting myself, which is why I was reluctant to link to that.

                Thank you for the link as well, and I wouldn't worry about seeming boastful (I had to search what "big-noting" means).

                1. Algernon_Asimov
                  Link Parent
                  See, what threw me was your use of the word "decided" with regard to my use of the word "convention" - because a lot of conventions aren't actively decided. For example, it is convention in the...

                  the only reason I bothered making a fuss about the word "convention" is because you began your other comment with pedantry and I felt like I had to respond. Like I had to defend the meaning and my use of that word.

                  See, what threw me was your use of the word "decided" with regard to my use of the word "convention" - because a lot of conventions aren't actively decided. For example, it is convention in the city I live in for people on escalators to stand on the left and walk on the right - but noone ever decided this, it just happened. There have been signs in busy train stations asking people to stand on the left and walk on the right, but these were just reminding people about a behaviour which was already happening. It was the convention, even if not every single person was doing it. But there was never a town meeting where everyone sat down, discussed the options, and decided that people should stand on the left on escalators, to let the people who want to walk pass on the right. It just happened.

                  With regard to topic tags: the decision-making process, as such, is happening organically. Let's talk about a group of people I'll call "tag influencers": people who post a lot of topics on Tildes plus people who edit tags on topics. Between them, those two groups of people (and there's definitely some overlap) produce a lot of topic tags, so what they do with tags will have some influence on Tildes' tagging practices. Those "tag influencers" see what other tag influencers are doing, and are adapting accordingly. For example, one tag influencer starts a certain type of tag or tag format, and another tag influencer sees it and decides to use that tag or format, and then another tag influencer follows, and so on. I do it myself: I see other people using a certain tag, and I agree it's a good idea, so I start using it on topics I post or when I edit tags on other topics. It's a collective, collaborative, informal process, which never involves any public discussion or group decision. Us thrashing out what tags to use and how to use them is the exception rather than the rule.

                  That's why your question about when this tagging practice was decided confused me - because it was never decided. It's just happening organically. A couple of tag influencers started it, and other tag influencers are picking it up.

                  And, because it's happening among tag influencers, I'm reasonably comfortable with saying it's the convention here, even though other people aren't doing the same thing. The people who have influence about how tags happen on Tildes have collectively agreed (without ever really discussing it) that "usa.tx" is the format they prefer for tags on topics about American states. It might not be universal yet, but the influencers will make it so over time. And, to draw aside the curtain for a moment... one way we make this practice conventional is by telling newcomers it is the convention here. ;)

                  So, even though the tags aren't standardised yet, there are conventions developing about what those tag standards should be.