36 votes

Hierarchical tags: How they're used and working toward a community standard [Draft part 1]

Tags: tags, meta

among the things i have been working on for the past day and change is documentation of the novel uses of hierarchical tags on tildes, how they vary by group (or in the cases here, across most or all of the site), and how we might best begin to standardize, introduce, or deprecate them going forward so we're on the same page and end up with tags that aren't a giant, unfriendly, user-unintuitive mess.

obviously, though, this is something that should probably include community input since the community generally determines the tags used in the first place; therefore, this is your chance to check my work, suggest additions, removals, etc. to this draft and in the end, hopefully help craft a standard of hierarchical tagging that's simpler, more intuitive, and more consistent for everybody on the website to use so we can reduce future meta discussions on this and make tags better overall.

this will be done in chunks for convenience purposes (your sake and mine). therefore, if you would be so kind as to try and limit your suggestions to the pertinent tags, that would be most helpful.



Mostly group non-specific tags

There are also a number of tags which are more general and occur or can occur in several or all groups on the website. Some of the more common conventions of hierarchical tags that are generally not group-specific are:


economics. and similar tags

The economics tag can occur in several groups, most often ~science, ~news, and ~misc. While it can take hierarchical tags, standalone economics is usually fine. Nonetheless, with specific branches of economics like microeconomics and macroeconomics, hierarchical tags should probably be used (thus economics.micro, economics.macro, economics.applied, and so on). Examples of this in action (and further specification under this scheme) are:

  • economics.trade (economics and trade)
  • economics.micro.urban (urban microeconomics)
  • economics.policy.employment (economic policy with respect to employment)

However, when placed in ~science, the standard is always socialsciences.economics over economics. to align with the standards of tagging in that group, thus socialsciences.economics.trade instead of economics.trade. Given that economics. in this case is itself a hierarchical tag, it may be pertinent to break off the last hierarchical tag into its own tag where it would lead to three consecutive hierarchical tags, like so:

  • socialsciences.economics.micro and urban areas
  • socialsciences.economics.policy and employment

law.

The law tag takes a very large number of modifiers and can be used in just about every group due to the fact that law generally transcends the current set of groups Tildes has. Historically, topics related to law have been tagged in the [modifier] law format (i.e. medical law, copyright law, us law, and so on); however, this has generally been phased out by the community in favor of using hierarchical tags for the modifiers. Therefore, with respect to pre-existing tags, constructions like medical law should be deprecated in favor of law.medical. In addition, the following tags which do exist should be converted accordingly:

  • medical law (convert to law.medical)
  • international law (convert to law.international)
  • labor law (convert to law.labor)
  • employment law (convert to law.employment)
  • antidiscrimination laws (convert to law.antidiscrimination)
  • copyright law (convert to law.copyright)
  • maritime law (convert to law.maritime)
  • environmental law (convert to law.environmental)
  • gun laws (convert to law.guns)

All single modifier tags should follow a pattern like this. In other words, if you were going to tag something as "abortion law", you should do law.abortion instead of abortion law. Currently well established tags following this format are: law.citizenship, law.international, law.labor, law.marriage, and law.juvenile.

The following tags with location tags in them (and similar tags like them) should be converted slightly differently from the above tags. Instead of being rolled directly, the locator tag (or what would be the locator tag) should be broken out from the tag, and the tag that is left should have its modifier turned into a hierarchical tag if possible. Thus:

  • usa federal laws is converted to law.federal and usa. (To elaborate in this case, the usa is separated, leaving federal laws which can be converted into law.federal)
  • us law is similarly converted to law and usa
  • european law is converted to law and european union

However, this should generally not be done with tags which refer to specific laws. For example religious neutrality law, blue laws and safe haven law are tags which should not be converted to use hierarchical tags because it makes little sense to do so.

There are also two specific tags which should generally not be rolled, which are martial law and law enforcement. Martial law is mostly used to refer to a specific state of affairs rather than an actual subset of law, so it makes little sense for this to be grouped into the law tag, while law enforcement is not really law in the sense being tagged here and is also covered by other tags like policing; using law.enforcement for this purpose would also be ambiguous, since it more likely would refer to enforcement of legal doctrine.

The use of the sharia law tag is ambiguous. Since sharia is de jure a form of law, it would make sense to roll it like the other examples so that the tag is law.sharia; however the two uses of it on Tildes are sharia law and there is currently no real consensus on whether or not to roll it in this manner.


nsfw., trigger., tw., cw. and similar tags

nsfw., trigger., tw, and cw. are all universal tags that have been used in one form or another to separate out content which might be objectionable and which are still useful for these purposes. Although all four have been used, the community has largely settled on a standard of using trigger. over tw. and cw. with potentially triggering content primarily for reasons of clarity (the trigger. tag also been put forward by Deimos previously as a way of handing potentially triggering and objectionable content). nsfw. is also sometimes used, but this is less frequent and usually carries a different implication than trigger. does.

As mentioned above, if you are using intending to use a tag of this sort, the preferred option in almost all cases is trigger. over tw. or cw.. For all intents and purposes, tw. and cw. should be considered mothballed and previous uses of them should probably be converted into trigger. at some point (particularly the duplicates tw.death, tw.suicide, and tw.selfharm).

The main established tags under the trigger. banner are:

  • trigger.death
  • trigger.selfharm
  • trigger.suicide
  • trigger.sexual violence
  • trigger.rape
  • trigger.assault
  • trigger.child abuse
  • trigger.transphobia
  • trigger.homophobia (not used yet, but presumably applicable due to trigger.transphobia's existence)

These are self explanatory for the most part, and cover most bases; however, if you feel that a particular topic is likely to be triggering for some people, it would be courteous to tag it accordingly in line the above tags. (Do also note that all of these tags can be and often are applied as standalone tags instead of being grouped under trigger. due to the fact that trigger. has waxed and waned in popularity over Tildes's existence.)

If you are intending to post graphic content, or content which has the potential of exposing people to graphic content (broadly construed) and want to tag it accordingly, nsfw. is generally preferable over trigger.. nsfw. is quite rare, but one example of it in action is the nsfw.racism tag on Ignore The Poway Synagogue Shooter’s Manifesto: Pay Attention To 8chan’s /pol/ Board due to the exceptionally racist content screencapped as a part of the submitted article. nsfw.sex is also seen on Do Police Know How To Handle Abuse Within Kinky Relationships? due to the explicitly sexual nature of the article's subject, but this is more of a courteous measure than a necessary one--a qualified nsfw tag is generally not necessary, and if one is a moderator will most likely add it after the fact.


hurricanes., cyclones., and typhoons.

Tropical cyclone news generally fits into several places, most often ~news, ~enviro, or ~science. Generally, the standard for tagging tropical cyclones, whether they are hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, or other similar storms is to use the applicable term for the storm in question, and then use a hierarchical tag for the storm's name. Actual examples of this are:

This is relatively straightforward, and covers the nomenclature of all existing basins. However, some basins have not been represented on Tildes thus far, so here are the two cases where standards overlap for reference:

  • the Pacific hurricane basin and the South Atlantic basin would both be represented by the same standard as the Atlantic basin (thus, hurricanes.patricia for the Pacific Hurricane Patricia and hurricanes.catarina for the South Atlantic Hurricane Catarina)
  • the Australian, North Indian, and South Pacific basins would be represented by the South-West Indian basin's standard (thus, cyclones.tracy for Australian Cyclone Tracy, cyclones.fani for North Indian Cyclone Fani, and cyclones.gita for South Pacific Cyclone Gita).

For convenience purposes, storms which are named but have not hit hurricane status should probably still be referred to with the corresponding cyclonic storm tag for their basin, even though they have not formally reached hurricane, cyclone, or typhoon status.

If there is no name to refer to (i.e. a name has not been designated for the storm), a hierarchical tag should probably not be applied at all, since that would get messy and likely necessitate updates. With storms that have only nicknames or lack a name under the nomenclature since they predate cyclone naming (for example, the 1938 New England Hurricane) there's really no best way to do things, however, using a truncation of the nickname may be the most preferable option (for example: hurricanes.1938 new england).

45 comments

  1. [22]
    unknown user
    (edited )
    Link
    This isn't going to be a helpful comment, so I apologise in advance. It's clear @Deimos & the community are opposed to it, but I've always felt like having hierarchical tags was a bit too much...
    • Exemplary

    This isn't going to be a helpful comment, so I apologise in advance.

    It's clear @Deimos & the community are opposed to it, but I've always felt like having hierarchical tags was a bit too much complexity for a discussion site and honestly might be a bit scary to newcomers; for reasons like this. This is a (very well written) part 1 of trying to examine and create rules for that complexity, and god, look how long it is. Who is going to remember all of this?

    I expect I'll get quite a lot of refutations to this view; but I also expect those refutations to come from Tildes power users, who are uniquely poorly positioned for explaining why nested tags are a good thing, because they disenfranchise non-power users the most, and are far more approachable for power users in the first place.

    Frankly I'm very much of the opinion tags should just be flat, and used merely as cross-group organisers; and I think it's possible to express just as much creativity with flat tags + nested groups as it is with nested tags. Keep it simple, etc etc

    14 votes
    1. Deimos
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I actually don't disagree. While hierarchical tags are obviously logical, the question we should try to answer is more whether they're useful and practical, and I don't think that's as clear. I...

      I actually don't disagree. While hierarchical tags are obviously logical, the question we should try to answer is more whether they're useful and practical, and I don't think that's as clear.

      I (hopefully) understand the concept of hierarchical tags about as well as anyone, but even then, I find that I rarely ever actually use one when I'm posting something, and it feels a little awkward and forced every time I do (with the exception of location-based tags). One aspect I find especially strange is that they often make tags both harder to read and write because they're "backwards". The OP is full of examples of this, like that "copyright law" should be "law.copyright". It makes sense structurally, but isn't what anyone would expect to see.

      I'm not necessarily saying that we should get rid of them either, but maybe we should try to think about what features of the hierarchical tagging are useful/desirable, and see if there's another way of accomplishing the same thing. For example, I really like the hierarchy with location-based tags. I think it's great that I can do something like filter out the "usa" tag and be confident that it will cover all stories about California as well. However, is needing to always do this via a "usa.ca" tag actually the best approach, or could we consider other methods like having a "california" tag always imply a (hidden?) "usa" tag?

      16 votes
    2. [9]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      I understand your concerns. And, normally, I would also be arguing for simplicity and ease of use (these are passions of mine) - for exactly the reasons you put forward. However... I don't expect...

      I understand your concerns. And, normally, I would also be arguing for simplicity and ease of use (these are passions of mine) - for exactly the reasons you put forward.

      However...

      I don't expect new users of Tildes (or even long-term sporadic users) to fully understand tags. I expect that the so-called "power users", who do understand tags, will do most of the required tagging. Why have people with tag editing abilities if we don't expect those people to actually edit tags?

      I would therefore like to say to all Tilders that it is okay for you to not understand tagging, because someone else who does understand tags can apply the tags for you.

      10 votes
      1. EightRoundsRapid
        Link Parent
        With regards to "others will know", I'm not sure I agree. I've had tags added/removed and posts moved after I've spent a while deciding the best tags/community to post in. In some cases I've been...

        With regards to "others will know", I'm not sure I agree. I've had tags added/removed and posts moved after I've spent a while deciding the best tags/community to post in. In some cases I've been unconcerned, in other I've been somewhat irritated because I think the addition/removal is incorrect and unnecessary. I think just holding up ones hands and saying "someone will sort it out for me" is a bit of a cop out, because this is a system that needs to be easily understood and easy to use by everyone.

        16 votes
      2. [4]
        unknown user
        Link Parent
        Sure, but I don't fundamentally believe a major aspect of the site should be so off limits to normal users by way of complexity that it's okay to say "it's fine if you don't understand this"....

        Sure, but I don't fundamentally believe a major aspect of the site should be so off limits to normal users by way of complexity that it's okay to say "it's fine if you don't understand this". That's a major, major UI smell. As I said, I bet we could find a way to get flat tags to express 95%+ of the diversity with a tiny fraction of the effort, pain, endless discussions, and warring that'll result from nested tags. So, why bother with this?

        Nested groups channel down verticals. Flat tags link the horizontals. Users can understand and contribute in both x & y axes. What's not to love?

        11 votes
        1. [3]
          alyaza
          Link Parent
          to be honest, i think this whole line of conversation is kinda overselling how complicated hierarchical tagging is. i am by no means tag gifted or technologically gifted, and it only took me like...

          Sure, but I don't fundamentally believe a major aspect of the site should be so off limits to normal users by way of complexity that it's okay to say "it's fine if you don't understand this".

          to be honest, i think this whole line of conversation is kinda overselling how complicated hierarchical tagging is. i am by no means tag gifted or technologically gifted, and it only took me like a day to figure out how to emulate hierarchical tags and start using them on a large scale. also, a lot of the push toward hierarchical tag use has been user initiative over mod intervention (the law. tags especially), so it seems like hierarchical tags aren't really off limits to non-power users or over their heads, really.

          moreover, a lot of the complexity i think comes from the fact that we don't really have consistency in how or where we use them right now rather than the actual base idea, which is part of why i'm doing this. it'll become a whole lot easier and user-inclined if we can find a way to boil its use across the site down to a few simple rules and make it consistent--but in order to do that you have to do a lot of figuring out how they're used in practice, how people think they should be used in practice, and thinking about where they'd be used in the future, which takes a lot of explaining! (that said, a lot of the prose in here is really only for reference purposes: you can already boil down at least two of the sections here into one or two sentences and ultimately, i'm shooting to have all of the sections be easily whittled like that.)

          9 votes
          1. [2]
            unknown user
            Link Parent
            I think you care a lot about Tildes though. Which is most certainly a positive thing, but again, when a large majority of the future users arrive on this site, they probably won't care to the...

            I think you care a lot about Tildes though. Which is most certainly a positive thing, but again, when a large majority of the future users arrive on this site, they probably won't care to the degree you or say I do. That's going to leave this hierarchical tagging system in disarray.

            There's nothing you can't accomplish with an intersection of flat tags that isn't already possible with hierarchical tags.

            3 votes
            1. alyaza
              Link Parent
              good thing they shouldn't necessarily have to and the end goal here is that they won't have to, provided we actually standardize them. again, i think the main problem is that nobody is on the same...

              Which is most certainly a positive thing, but again, when a large majority of the future users arrive on this site, they probably won't care to the degree you or say I do.

              good thing they shouldn't necessarily have to and the end goal here is that they won't have to, provided we actually standardize them. again, i think the main problem is that nobody is on the same page with hierarchical tags because nobody's bothered to parse out where we do or don't use them as a community. once how we do use them is consistently reflected in the dropdown and the search function (they're really not currently), it should almost exclusively become a tag curator issue and not a user one since users should be able to just mirror any constructions they see in it (and if they mess up tag curators can fix it like they already do)

              5 votes
      3. [3]
        nic
        Link Parent
        I get easily confused. Can you do my tagging for me?

        someone else who does understand tags can apply the tags for you.

        I get easily confused.

        Can you do my tagging for me?

        1. [2]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          I have already done some tagging for you: https://tildes.net/~movies/cx0/movie_scenes_recreated_with_sexiest_new_zealand_accent...

          I have already done some tagging for you:

          And, if you tagged this post with "reviews" instead of "review" because "reviews" showed up in the suggested tag list and "review" did not, that's because I tidied up the duplication of "reviews" and "review" tags in ~movies last week.

          So, I'm already helping you with your tags!

          You're welcome.

          5 votes
    3. [8]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      "...hold on: is it law.usa? law.us? law and usa separate? Lemme check the guide on that" Ctrl + F → law "Oh, okay. Gotcha. Thanks, guide!" We have writing precisely so that memory needn't be...

      and god, look how long it is. Who is going to remember all of this?

      "...hold on: is it law.usa? law.us? law and usa separate? Lemme check the guide on that"

      Ctrl + Flaw

      "Oh, okay. Gotcha. Thanks, guide!"

      We have writing precisely so that memory needn't be occupied. Short guides are preferable to long guides, but long guides are preferable to having to rely on peripheral memory and intuition.

      And if you're doing multi-level tags often, I bet you're going to memorize the structure eventually.

      5 votes
      1. [7]
        unknown user
        Link Parent
        You know what's better than a guide? No guide at all! The user should be able to type law, and usa into the tags box. That's it. The combination of those tags expresses the same intent without the...

        You know what's better than a guide? No guide at all! The user should be able to type law, and usa into the tags box. That's it.

        The combination of those tags expresses the same intent without the nasty structures & complexity & debates that you'll get with nested tags, and you don't need a guide. Asking users to ⌘-F in a document they probably won't even know exists, and 90% of people won't bother looking at anyway, to figure out how to a fundamental portion of the site doesn't sit well with me at all.

        12 votes
        1. [4]
          Fierre
          Link Parent
          Isn’t this a bit of a null issue since there is an auto-suggestion in the tag box? If I type “law” into the box, it should show me a list of all the “law.” tags and I can pick the one that fits my...

          Isn’t this a bit of a null issue since there is an auto-suggestion in the tag box? If I type “law” into the box, it should show me a list of all the “law.” tags and I can pick the one that fits my post the best, so I don’t see how flat tags or hierarchical tags are more or less intuitive than the other.

          7 votes
          1. [3]
            unknown user
            Link Parent
            That doesn't account for potential tag permutations for such what if you start typing from one root, but actually your desired tag is under another. Suddenly just finding synonymous tags is more...

            That doesn't account for potential tag permutations for such what if you start typing from one root, but actually your desired tag is under another. Suddenly just finding synonymous tags is more than a process of starting with some certain characters. The autosuggestion functionality would have to get much smarter to manage this.

            And again, what's a significant number of practical, pragmatic benefits of nested tags that can't be achieved with just a combination of flat tags?

            4 votes
            1. [2]
              Fierre
              Link Parent
              Well, if the auto-suggestion needs to be so much better to work with the hierarchical tags, then I agree and don’t really see a point in them. I do wonder though (excuse my lack of tech knowledge...

              Well, if the auto-suggestion needs to be so much better to work with the hierarchical tags, then I agree and don’t really see a point in them.

              I do wonder though (excuse my lack of tech knowledge here. You or someone else may be able to refute this) could the hierarchical tags be used in the future to help future site features?

              1 vote
              1. alyaza
                Link Parent
                yes. actually, the main reason for their implementation currently is that it allows (and in the future will probably be better optimized for) very fine-tuned filtering and searching of certain...

                I do wonder though (excuse my lack of tech knowledge here. You or someone else may be able to refute this) could the hierarchical tags be used in the future to help future site features?

                yes. actually, the main reason for their implementation currently is that it allows (and in the future will probably be better optimized for) very fine-tuned filtering and searching of certain topics. to quote the official documents:

                Similar to groups, tags also support a hierarchy by separating "sections" with periods. For example, tagging something with rock.progressive will cause it to still be treated as though it has a rock tag (being found in searches and affected by filters), but is more specific and could allow more detailed filtering/searching.

                you can filter usa.me for example if you don't want to see news from maine specifically, and because of hierarchical tagging, that will not interfere with either topics tagged just usa or topics tagged with other hierarchical tags like usa.ct. this can of course be done with flat tagging, but it's generally more of a pain in the ass across the board (especially with inconsistent standards) and right now that method also tends to waste a bunch of space, which does matter for people on mobile and whatnot since tildes is intended to be a one-size-fits all website in that regard.

                they also basically parallel (and serve as the best barometer for) the need for subgroups: in the future, if medicine topics for example were to become the majority of the content in ~health, we would create ~health.medicine, and then if medicine.alternative dominates that, we would make something like ~health.medicine.alternative. although group hierarchy is its own can of worms, honestly.

                5 votes
        2. alyaza
          Link Parent
          i should probably have clarified that the point of this document is to get everybody on a standard that then gets reflected in the dropdown tags/search feature consistently and that this is almost...

          You know what's better than a guide? No guide at all! The user should be able to type law, and usa into the tags box. That's it.

          i should probably have clarified that the point of this document is to get everybody on a standard that then gets reflected in the dropdown tags/search feature consistently and that this is almost exclusively going to be a backend/mod thing for them to reference, just, suddenly forcing a standard built by like 3 people and asking everyone to adhere to it is weird and not optimal for this case

          6 votes
        3. ThatFanficGuy
          Link Parent
          You bring up a good point. Usability is important, and the best usability is when things just work. Having cascading tags that aren't plain or easy to grasp is the opposite of that.

          You bring up a good point. Usability is important, and the best usability is when things just work. Having cascading tags that aren't plain or easy to grasp is the opposite of that.

          3 votes
    4. [3]
      Amarok
      Link Parent
      I don't think tags are going to be particularly useful until the site is applying them itself from the metadata when people submit links. People will never use them at this level of specificity,...

      I don't think tags are going to be particularly useful until the site is applying them itself from the metadata when people submit links. People will never use them at this level of specificity, and no one is ever going to read tagging guidelines, or any other kind of guidelines. If rules can't fit on one side of an index card in large letters, they may as well not exist. I look at tags as a handy search tool that needs to be largely machine-driven, possibly with mods curating synonyms. The hierarchical tags are fine for things like nsfw.* but trying to make all of the tags into a hierarchy is pointless.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        synergy-unsterile
        Link Parent
        I think there's room for user curated tagging. For example, a machine might've tagged my submission The Race is on to Make the Next ‘Game of Thrones’ with the following: Game of Thrones, HBO,...

        I think there's room for user curated tagging.

        For example, a machine might've tagged my submission The Race is on to Make the Next ‘Game of Thrones’ with the following:
        Game of Thrones, HBO, Netflix, The Witcher, Showtime, Halo, Amazon, Lord of the Rings, Apple, Foundation, long read

        The actual tags I added are:
        prestige television, peak tv, postnetwork era, subscriptions, long read
        It will be a very long time (if ever) for Tildes to get automated tagging capable of tying submissions to pertinent bigger ideas or trends rather than the immediate topics.

        5 votes
        1. Amarok
          Link Parent
          It is, however, pretty easy to check the other end of the links and import whatever is there, as a suggestion on the submission page, just like reddit's 'suggest a title' feature grabs the title...

          It will be a very long time (if ever) for Tildes to get automated tagging capable of tying submissions to pertinent bigger ideas or trends rather than the immediate topics.

          It is, however, pretty easy to check the other end of the links and import whatever is there, as a suggestion on the submission page, just like reddit's 'suggest a title' feature grabs the title from the site at the other end of the link. That requires no judgement or processing or cleverness, though there's certainly an opportunity for some kind of smarter interpreter there in the future - but as you say, it'll be a larger code investment, and we don't need it right now.

          Those tags could be in a sorry state or they could be solid gold, depending on which site, so it might be wise to approach this one site/api at a time. Start with the ones that get linked the most, like youtube, and run with that for a while, see where it wants to go.

          2 votes
  2. cfabbro
    (edited )
    Link
    Thanks for doing this, @alyaza. I think these are all solid recommendations for tag standards. However one thing that I do want to stress about all this, is that these standards are mostly for the...

    Thanks for doing this, @alyaza. I think these are all solid recommendations for tag standards. However one thing that I do want to stress about all this, is that these standards are mostly for the tag curators on the site. It would be nice if everyone tried their best to adhered to community standards regarding tags, but it's absolutely not a requirement and people should absolutely not feel intimidated or discouraged from posting just because they don't understand them. Just submit things you think others will enjoy, try your best to tags them with what you feel is appropriate, and the tag curators can take care of the rest.

    Another thing I want to address regarding people debating whether tags should even be hierarchical (@emdash, @lionirdeadman) that @alyaza already touched on, but that I think really needs to be stressed, is from the Tildes docs: https://docs.tildes.net/mechanics#topic-tags

    It's worth mentioning that the hierarchy and naming restrictions of topic tags match up exactly with how groups work. This is deliberate—there's a lot of potential here with the parallels between sub-groups and tags.

    Hierarchical tags are an analog to hierarchical groups, and they are interchangeable for good reason. E.g. In ~humanities, I have tagged many of my own submissions with history.military because at some point ~humanities.history will likely be created (and all history tagged topics moved to there, and the base history tag deprecated) and at a further point down the road when traffic can sustain it, ~humanities.history.military may even be created.

    So, while flat tagging may seem "easier" now, and hierarchical tagging may seem tedious and a bit over-complicated, this is a system intentionally designed to make things easier in the long run; Easier to judge interest in which groups and subgroups should be created later when traffic justifies more being added, easier to organize the group hierarchy as the site grows since the hierarchy is already established, and easier to move all topics around to where they properly belong.

    Also worth mentioning is there are already some gitlab issues (one of which is already in progress) designed to make the hierarchical tags more useful, even in the short term:

    And if anyone can think of any more ideas for making hierarchical tags.subtags more useful in the short term, I would appreciate hearing them, so I can make issues regarding them.

    9 votes
  3. [4]
    Deimos
    Link
    First, thank you so much for working on this. It's obviously had a lot of thought and effort put into it, and it's well-written and organized. I think I'd agree with everything you wrote, it all...

    First, thank you so much for working on this. It's obviously had a lot of thought and effort put into it, and it's well-written and organized. I think I'd agree with everything you wrote, it all makes sense and lays out approaches that work exactly the way the hierarchy is able to.

    But honestly, seeing this much written about a very small set of the possible tags and uses is pushing me more towards @emdash's viewpoint—this is quite complex, and are we gaining enough out of it to make that extra level of complexity worthwhile?

    Some stats I just pulled:

    • Number of tags on all topics: 53,460
    • Number of tags with more than one level: 2095 (4%)
    • Number of unique tags: 14,760
    • Number of unique tags with more than one level: 710 (5%)
    • Percentage of topics that have at least one tag with more than one level: 11%

    So overall, the hierarchical tags haven't been insanely rare, but they're definitely only involved in a tiny minority of cases. They do also make tags more difficult to both read and write. I've seen multiple people mention that they find even tagging their own topics intimidating, and the complexity of the hierarchy probably contributes to that.

    As I mentioned in my reply above, there's definitely value to the hierarchy, but I wonder if we could retain that value while hiding a lot of this complexity from the majority of users who don't want or need to deal with it. I don't have any particular plan in mind for doing that, but it's probably worth thinking more about.

    8 votes
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Synonymous tags could potentially allow for that. E.g. california as the tag shown to everyone but have usa.ca as the synonymous tag being stored in the background for use in filtering, hierarchy...

      but I wonder if we could retain that value while hiding a lot of this complexity from the majority of users who don't want or need to deal with it.

      Synonymous tags could potentially allow for that. E.g. california as the tag shown to everyone but have usa.ca as the synonymous tag being stored in the background for use in filtering, hierarchy management, etc. Or copyright law being shown, law.copyright synonymous in background. Etc.

      I still think there is value in hierarchical tags even fully exposed though. E.g. history.military is way more compact than having both history and military history, or basketball.nba.pacers instead of all three independently. That and for tag navigation, being able to click on the parent tag to be taken to that ?tag=parent_tag page is nice, especially when the non-hierarchical versions often don't have that option, E.g. copyright law which you can't click on the law part vs law.copyright where you could (once that option gets added).

      4 votes
    2. alyaza
      Link Parent
      i think so, because it's actually not that complicated at face value as it looks and like i've said a few times in here, this is mostly intended to be a backend reference type thing when it's done...

      But honestly, seeing this much written about a very small set of the possible tags and uses is pushing me more towards @emdash's viewpoint—this is quite complex, and are we gaining enough out of it to make that extra level of complexity worthwhile?

      i think so, because it's actually not that complicated at face value as it looks and like i've said a few times in here, this is mostly intended to be a backend reference type thing when it's done so ideally users won't really have to internalize much of anything to adapt to the standard.

      really, the main reason why there is a lot written here is because this document tackles a couple things in one (the explanatory note i probably should not have omitted which describes the purpose of the document says that it seeks "firstly to explain some of the conventions of how these tags are used on Tildes; secondly to explain and note where they are used and not used currently; and thirdly, to put forward a "standard" of sorts by which to use them for the future") and so most of what's written here is just summarizing:

      • what tags exist or have been used already
      • their history/significance if applicable
      • and how i'd personally convert them or not convert them to align to a standard (since otherwise, you defeat the point of this which is to end up with simpler tags).

      the actual standardization rules for all of this as of right now before considering user input can basically be summarized in 1 or 2 straightforward sentences like so:

      economics.

      • use hierarchical tags for branches and sub-branches of economics and modifiers like trade (like economics.macro). when in science use socialscience. as the parent tag instead of economics.

      law.

      • use subtags whenever there's a modifier, with the modifier being the subtag (law.labor for example). if a location tag is needed, tag it separately.

      nsfw. and trigger.

      • use trigger. (if desired) for potentially triggering content in the same way as law. (trigger.rape for example). use nsfw. like trigger. and law. for actively graphic or potentially graphic content.

      hurricanes., cyclones., typhoons.

      use the pertinent parent tag for the storm, with the storm name being a subtag even if it's not a formal hurricane/typhoon/cyclone. if the storm only has a nickname, try a truncation of that name.

      4 votes
    3. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. Deimos
        Link Parent
        It would be pretty difficult, I'd probably have to write a script to figure it out. It would also only work for anything in the last 30 days, since I don't keep the tag editing history for longer...

        is there any way to pull stats for the tags that a post was originally made with vs. tags that were added later on by another user? or, in other words, is there a "tag history"?

        It would be pretty difficult, I'd probably have to write a script to figure it out. It would also only work for anything in the last 30 days, since I don't keep the tag editing history for longer than that (but yes, it exists and is shown in the sidebar for 30 days in the Topic Log whenever tags get changed).

        Those "ask." tags are definitely used the most. These are the 20 most-used hierarchical tags:

        Tag # of uses
        ask.survey 452
        ask.recommendations 110
        ask.help 60
        ask.advice 50
        usa.ca 30
        socialscience.psychology 26
        challenge.programming 25
        usa.california 21
        rock.indie 20
        australia.nsw 19
        rock.alternative 17
        history.military 15
        christianity.catholicism 15
        pop.synth 14
        australia.vic 14
        culinary.science 13
        usa.ny 13
        culinary.recipes 12
        usa.fl 11
        usa.tx 11
        4 votes
  4. [5]
    lionirdeadman
    Link
    I personally think tags should be mostly non-hierarchical and specific tags should hierarchical, here's why : User-friendly-ness A tagging system which is too complex or convoluted quickly becomes...

    I personally think tags should be mostly non-hierarchical and specific tags should hierarchical, here's why :

    1. User-friendly-ness

    A tagging system which is too complex or convoluted quickly becomes useless the average user and now tagging becomes a liability rather than a powerful feature.

    1. Difference in hierarchy with groups

    Tags unlike groups can't be easily re-directional. What does this mean? This creates the problems exposed above with regards to usability.

    1. Search

    Searching for things which have a certain tag becomes a chore of "did they do this or this or maybe this?"

    1. Combining tags

    Combining tags is a much more powerful feature than hierarchical tags because more people can tag their posts appropriately and people can easily search for multiple tags but it's much harder to search this if you have hierarchical tags


    So how do I think specific tags could be hierarchical?

    Here's what I'll propose. Certain tag "groups" should be enforced with standards site-wide, examples of such would be :

    nsfw.<insert-here>
    tw.<insert-here>

    Here's why this format is powerful, the communities can decide which subgroups they want to apply for these instances since they know which are appropriate for their own communities and since it's only a subset of tags being as such, it's easy to keep up with but we should not standardize more than saying things such as :

    • These should not pluralized
    • These should be "ou" instead of "o" (up to debate but example : coloured instead of colored)

    I think it's worth pondering if the trust system should allow users to re-tag or if only moderation roles should re-tag.

    5 votes
    1. [4]
      alyaza
      Link Parent
      i mean, this is pretty much the idea of this project. most tags are and will continue to be non-hierarchical, this is more a matter of standardizing cases where they are or aren't used so they're...

      I personally think tags should be mostly non-hierarchical and specific tags should hierarchical
      User-friendly-ness
      A tagging system which is too complex or convoluted quickly becomes useless the average user and now tagging becomes a liability rather than a powerful feature.
      [...]
      So how do I think specific tags could be hierarchical?
      Here's what I'll propose. Certain tag "groups" should be enforced with standards site-wide, examples of such would be :

      nsfw.<insert-here>
      tw.<insert-here>

      i mean, this is pretty much the idea of this project. most tags are and will continue to be non-hierarchical, this is more a matter of standardizing cases where they are or aren't used so they're more user-friendly and we don't have a mess of people not using them where it's best to or using them where they probably shouldn't. deimos is probably not going to get rid of the functionality unless they become untenable, and there's not really a reason to think they are untenable currently, so it would make sense to try and attain a community standard of how and where they're supposed to be used.

      Difference in hierarchy with groups
      Tags unlike groups can't be easily re-directional. What does this mean? This creates the problems exposed above with regards to usability.

      actually, the hierarchy between groups and tags is basically the same to the point where one of the appeals of using hierarchical tags over flat tags is that they'll easily demonstrate where we need new groups and make the transition relatively seamless. to reuse my example up in the other thread, in the future, if medicine topics for example were to become the majority of the content in ~health, we would create ~health.medicine, and then if medicine.alternative dominates that, we would make something like ~health.medicine.alternative, and so on as needed. you can sorta do this with flat tagging, but given how tildes is set up, it'd probably be significantly more work than if you just used hierarchical tags.

      Search
      Searching for things which have a certain tag becomes a chore of "did they do this or this or maybe this?"

      as far as i'm aware, this actually isn't really an issue provided tags are standardized, which is another part of why we're doing this. also, speaking as someone who tends to search up terms pretty regularly, tags in my experience haven't really been an issue when it comes to searches since the search feature is more than just tags. hierarchical tags also will currently display in searches for both their parent tag and their hierarchical tags, and while you can't search directly for the full tags right now (usa.co specifically for example returns nothing but both of its components return all uses of it), there's an issue for it on the tracker so that's set to presumably be changed/fixed in the future.

      Combining tags
      Combining tags is a much more powerful feature than hierarchical tags because more people can tag their posts appropriately and people can easily search for multiple tags but it's much harder to search this if you have hierarchical tags

      unless i'm mistaken, hierarchical tags basically function as combined tags would already since searching for any of their component parts returns their results.

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        lionirdeadman
        Link Parent
        Even subgroups currently don't really follow a standard, I think it's even less likely that we can do tag standards properly. I probably didn't explain myself properly. I more so meant that...

        so it would make sense to try and attain a community standard of how and where they're supposed to be used.

        Even subgroups currently don't really follow a standard, I think it's even less likely that we can do tag standards properly.

        actually, the hierarchy between groups and tags is basically the same to the point where one of the appeals of using hierarchical tags over flat tags is that they'll easily demonstrate where we need new groups and make the transition relatively seamless. to reuse my example up in the other thread, in the future, if medicine topics for example were to become the majority of the content in ~health, we would create ~health.medicine, and then if medicine.alternative dominates that, we would make something like ~health.medicine.alternative, and so on as needed. you can sorta do this with flat tagging, but given how tildes is set up, it'd probably be significantly more work than if you just used hierarchical tags.

        I probably didn't explain myself properly. I more so meant that health.medicine and medicine.health can't easily be the same thing as they should be like groups can do (or will, not actually sure if we currently do this for anything).

        hierarchical tags also will currently display in searches for both their parent tag and their hierarchical tags, and while you can't search directly for the full tags right now

        I actually didn't know that, that's good to know.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          alyaza
          Link Parent
          actually, one of the surprising things in doing this so far is that a lot of hierarchical tags seem to broadly follow a sort of unspoken standard (with a few trouble spots), so we should be able...

          Even subgroups currently don't really follow a standard, I think it's even less likely that we can do tag standards properly.

          actually, one of the surprising things in doing this so far is that a lot of hierarchical tags seem to broadly follow a sort of unspoken standard (with a few trouble spots), so we should be able to craft that into something universal (or close to it) but easy to follow if we actually get around to it instead of letting it just kinda sit and compound.

          also, group standards aren't really comparable/a great analogue for how tagging standards might work since right now they're mildly arbitrary as a function of being what people suggested early on in the website and what deimos thought would work, and because the subgroups that will exist under them haven't really been implemented as they'll most likely be used in the future yet. call it a side effect of the awkward growth stage we're in.

          I probably didn't explain myself properly. I more so meant that health.medicine and medicine.health can't easily be the same thing as they should be like groups can do (or will, not actually sure if we currently do this for anything).

          i think part of the issue here might be that the example i'm using doesn't lend itself well to the point you're trying to make since i can't really think of any cases where medicine.health would be used (and it's actually never been used on the site). alternative.medicine has though, and if i understand your point would basically be that some tags of that nature are hard to make equivalent through synonymous tags or some similar process to what their standardization would be (in that case, medicine.alternative)?

          3 votes
          1. lionirdeadman
            Link Parent
            I think getting any large group of people follow any kind of system which is not enforced systematically is going to near impossible as more people come to the site and people who try to get...

            actually, one of the surprising things in doing this so far is that a lot of hierarchical tags seem to broadly follow a sort of unspoken standard (with a few trouble spots), so we should be able to craft that into something universal (or close to it) but easy to follow if we actually get around to it instead of letting it just kinda sit and compound.

            I think getting any large group of people follow any kind of system which is not enforced systematically is going to near impossible as more people come to the site and people who try to get systems of tagging will most likely feel re-tagging this much due to the nature of hierarchical tags to be a chore.

            since right now they're mildly arbitrary as a function of being what people suggested early on in the website

            I don't see them changing in the future into something which follows more of a standard without ruining hours upon hours of conversation and I think any kind of standard we would come up early with such a system is bound to be reimagined into something which makes more sense for future tildians which would be problematic.

            alternative.medicine has though, and if i understand your point would basically be that some tags of that nature are hard to make equivalent through synonymous tags or some similar process to what their standardization would be (in that case, medicine.alternative)?

            Yes, precisely. I remember hearing @Deimos saying that for example, ~tv.anime and ~anime.tv could be synonymous, I think making such a thing with tags would be likely impossible simply because of the volatile nature of them compared to groups which are not and meaning that certain tags might be split into multiple hierarchical tags which might all be equally valid but make the search significantly harder.

            1 vote
  5. [13]
    Algernon_Asimov
    (edited )
    Link
    I've looked at this post, and read everyone's comments, and here are some random remarks (some general and some specific) I'd like to make. If a hierarchical tag goes to three levels, it's almost...

    I've looked at this post, and read everyone's comments, and here are some random remarks (some general and some specific) I'd like to make.

    • If a hierarchical tag goes to three levels, it's almost certainly overdone. I think two levels should be the maximum for any hierarchical tag.

    • I think hierarchical tags should be the minority of tags. I think most tags should be simple single-level tags.

    • We don't have to decide whether a particular weather system is a cyclone or a hurricane or a typhoon: the weather experts will tell us whether it's Cyclone Celia or Hurricane Harriet or Typhoon Tyrone.

    • I agree with the respective tags for different types of storms being cyclones.celia, hurricanes.harriet, and typhoons.tyrone.

    • The socialscience tag is just a temporary placeholder until I can convince @Deimos to create a ~socialsciences group (hint, hint!). Don't get too caught up in defining overly complicated structures for temporary tags like this.

    • People have raised concerns that we don't want to make tags too complicated because people won't apply them when posting. I think a bigger concern is that complicated tags won't be used by people who want to filter or search.

    • I've often said that we shouldn't blindly impose rigid structures at the expense of usability. In that context, we should build tags that align with users' interests, rather than based on logical data structures or library-style categories. For example, if someone's interested in gun laws, they're more likely to search for tags using "guns" than "law". That means that "guns" should be the top-level tag, not "law": guns.law rather than law.guns. This would cluster with tags like guns.control and guns.mass shootings. Where does the user's interest lie? In this case, I think someone is more likely to want to see or hide discussions about guns than discussions about law. That should dictate what the top-level tag is.

    • Some tags are placeholders for anticipated future sub-groups. They might not be appropriate for sub-tagging.

    • A lot can be achieved by using multiple single-level tags, rather than hierarchical tags.

    • EDIT: Sub-tags should be thought of as descriptors, rather than whole categories. I use christianity.catholicism because Catholicism is just one type of Christianity, and usa.ca because California is just one state in the United States.

    And I still think it's okay if individual posters don't know how to, or don't want to, tag their own topics. Tildes is moving towards a culture of community-based moderation. To me, that would include crowd-sourcing the work of curating and managing topics. Many hands make light work.

    FYI: People who might be interested. @emdash, @EightRoundsRapid, @cfabbro.

    5 votes
    1. alyaza
      Link Parent
      i mentioned this in another comment but i don't know if the distinction here would really matter in the future because law.guns and guns.law should end up returning search results for all posts...

      I've often said that we shouldn't blindly impose rigid structures at the expense of usability. In that context, we should build tags that align with users' interests, rather than based on logical data structures or library-style categories. For example, if someone's interested in gun laws, they're more likely to search for tags using "guns" than "law". That means that "guns" should be the top-level tag, not "law": guns.law rather than law.guns. This would cluster with tags like guns.control and guns.mass shootings. Where does the user's interest lie? In this case, I think someone is more likely to want to see or hide discussions about guns than discussions about law. That should dictate what the top-level tag is.

      i mentioned this in another comment but i don't know if the distinction here would really matter in the future because law.guns and guns.law should end up returning search results for all posts tagged either and the only difference would be in how it's seemingly grouped. if you search guns, for example, this post tagged law.guns comes up just as if you searched law, and there's also an issue to make parent tags and subtags clickable which means that in the future people should just be able to navigate to guns from a law.guns or guns.law anyways.

      4 votes
    2. [11]
      Amarok
      Link Parent
      I'd be careful thinking that way. Many posters make for a lot of work, they will outnumber mods at least 1000-1 in the best-case, and literally no one wants to spend all day tagging on tildes...

      Many hands make light work.

      I'd be careful thinking that way. Many posters make for a lot of work, they will outnumber mods at least 1000-1 in the best-case, and literally no one wants to spend all day tagging on tildes cleaning up after the users. I'm not too worried about it, though. I think with mods curating synonyms somehow and metadata imports from links to other sites, plus informed tag suggestions, the work will be light enough. Most tag conflicts/issues can be resolved just the once and that resolution applied automatically in the future. Even if that's done with local/per-group rules rather than sitewide, it should remain well within the scope of human mod manpower.

      3 votes
      1. [10]
        lionirdeadman
        Link Parent
        I think instead of relying on moderators to do this, it might be interesting to allow all users to do so with the trust system just like we have with comment labels.

        I think instead of relying on moderators to do this, it might be interesting to allow all users to do so with the trust system just like we have with comment labels.

        2 votes
        1. Amarok
          Link Parent
          That's the idea, giving most people the power to do these things in the groups they frequent, rather than restricting it to a handful of king-types. Tag editing isn't a risky feature compared to...

          That's the idea, giving most people the power to do these things in the groups they frequent, rather than restricting it to a handful of king-types. Tag editing isn't a risky feature compared to something like banning or muting. The risky powers are the only ones that need to be carefully gated, and perhaps we can find a way to make those more accessible as the tools evolve.

          3 votes
        2. [8]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          When @Amarok says "mods" in this context, he means "users who have acquired tag-editing abilities via the trust system". Whenever he (or some other people) use rhe term "moderator" here on Tildes,...

          When @Amarok says "mods" in this context, he means "users who have acquired tag-editing abilities via the trust system".

          Whenever he (or some other people) use rhe term "moderator" here on Tildes, they mean anyone who can do something more than just post a topic or make a comment. It's a very broad and vague category on Tildes. As I say, it's community-based moderation. So, in effect, most people will be moderators of one type or another.

          2 votes
          1. [7]
            lionirdeadman
            Link Parent
            I think a different term for this might be better to avoid confusion between those with power to delete or ban and those with power to re-tag and label comments. I don't know what would be a...

            I think a different term for this might be better to avoid confusion between those with power to delete or ban and those with power to re-tag and label comments. I don't know what would be a better term however.

            1 vote
            1. Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              I totally agree. That's why I try to avoid using "moderator" here. I'll talk about "tag editors" and "moderator-style abilities" and "community moderation", but I won't talk about "moderators"...

              I think a different term for this might be better

              I totally agree. That's why I try to avoid using "moderator" here. I'll talk about "tag editors" and "moderator-style abilities" and "community moderation", but I won't talk about "moderators" because that term comes with history and baggage and expectations that don't apply here.

              But, I can't stop other people from using "mods" and "moderators". :/

              4 votes
            2. [5]
              Amarok
              Link Parent
              I've been thinking of it as three broad groups of abilities lately - bailiffs, curators, and editors.

              I've been thinking of it as three broad groups of abilities lately - bailiffs, curators, and editors.

              3 votes
              1. [4]
                Algernon_Asimov
                Link Parent
                Yeah, I remember us having that conversation way back when. Maybe we should start using these terms in discussions like this, and stop using “moderator” altogether.

                Yeah, I remember us having that conversation way back when.

                Maybe we should start using these terms in discussions like this, and stop using “moderator” altogether.

                3 votes
                1. [2]
                  unknown user
                  Link Parent
                  Although I've mostly checked out of this thread by this point, I'm just chiming in to say this subthread reasonated quite a bit with me. You're right, we don't have moderators (unless you consider...

                  Although I've mostly checked out of this thread by this point, I'm just chiming in to say this subthread reasonated quite a bit with me. You're right, we don't have moderators (unless you consider Deimos one), and the word has such a history attached to it, maybe it is time to dismiss it completely, for the purposes of Tildes at least.

                  It might be worth thinking about capabilities in terms of roles. Topic editors, tag editors, etc.

                  5 votes
                  1. Amarok
                    Link Parent
                    I was thinking roles, with levels you move up and down depending on whatever factors make sense for those abilities. This is very similar to how some multi-class MMOs structure progression for the...

                    I was thinking roles, with levels you move up and down depending on whatever factors make sense for those abilities. This is very similar to how some multi-class MMOs structure progression for the various classes available to any given character. We don't need anything that fancy, I suspect, but the structure is simple, malleable, and can be extended in all sorts of clever ways. If we ever find we do need more complexity and nuance it should be pretty easy to work that stuff in without having to do a lot of refactoring.

                    2 votes
                2. Amarok
                  Link Parent
                  It has become a rather loaded word. I like curator the best, since that emphasizes the part of the work that's actually fun and rewarding.

                  It has become a rather loaded word. I like curator the best, since that emphasizes the part of the work that's actually fun and rewarding.

                  4 votes