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Opening up the tagging system

Posted by Gaiiden, in GDNet 09 January 2012 · 2,155 views

Open Tagging vs. Closed Tagging

When we launched the site upgrade and announced that we had a new tagging system, it was also made clear that this system was closed, which meant that we supplied the tags you all could select from. The primary reasoning behind this closed system was to reduce what I call "tag fragmentation", which would eventually make tagging content a useless exercise if left unchecked and unmoderated (read the link for more on this issue). However beneficial it is in the long run though, the closed system does have drawbacks. For one, you simply can't add a new tag for anything that we may have missed considering tag-worthy, which is probably a lot. Another drawback specific to this software was that the tag list drop down did not sort tags alphabetically, which meant finding the tag you wanted to include was a bit difficult.

Fortunately we've added some functionality to the software now that gives us more control over tags being used, and we can now monitor how many uses a particular tag has, indentify and merge similar tags, etc. This means that we can switch to an open tagging system and let you use whatever tags you want for content you post on the forums or in your journals. Well, whatever tags you want within reason. As I said we will be moderating tag usage and will be removing anything like "my first journal entry" - not to mention tags that don't follow our terms of use for language and stuff. Tagging should be relegated to keywords only. Any tags with more than two words will immediately be suspect for removal.

There's still a downside, although we hope to tackle this problem soon - you can't see other tags that have been used while making a post. So unless you've already seen another piece of content tagged in the subject you're posting about you may have to guess at what an appropriate tag name would be - for example "Direct3D" or "D3D"? Eventually we hope to make it so you can find this information easier while posting so your content is immediately included in the larger pool of other tag uses without waiting for us to spot the dupe tag and merge it.

Open Tagging, Closed Prefixes

While we're able to open up the tagging system, we've decided to keep prefixes on a closed system. Prefixes are good ways to let people sort content in a forum topics list faster with just their eyes by picking out the prefixes that are important to them. This ability breaks down rapidly when there are a lot of different prefixes in use.

If you can't find a prefix you feel suits your topic, you are still welcome to use the [] characters at the start of your topic to define your own prefix. If the moderators see it used often they may add it to the prefix list and can easily go back and bulk-add this official prefix to the past threads. We're also working with the individual forum mods to add additional ones we may have missed in the initial building of the prefix selection.

The Purpose of Prefixing

If you're a bit uncertain as to the use of prefixes, the idea is to identify a large amount of similar topics quickly and easily. Older members may recall that we had a couple more forums than what you see in our current index. Merging several of the low-traffic forums with ones of similar nature and greater traffic is a benefit to the lower-traffic forum participants now posting threads that get many more views. However at the same time the participants of both forums now have more topics to wade through to find what they like to read. Enter prefixes. Think of them as forum sub topics. Anyone visiting the API and Tools forum to read up on SDL discussions, for example, can spot them easily with a prefix. Anyone visiting the DirectX and XNA board looking for SlimDX topcis can also spot them easily with prefixes. And so on. This lets us combine many like-minded people in one area but still sort out discussion amongst groups of interest. For this reason we encourage everyone to prefix their topics whenever possible for the benefit of others and yourself in attracting the proper readers to your thread.

Prefix Colors

A quick note on prefix colors - currently they are all the same shade of blue. In a short while, after we nail down the prefixes a bit more, we will start coloring them to make it easier to identify an individual type or group of prefixes in the forum topic listings (for example DirectX prefixes may be varying shades of green, or a single shade of green).

Questions? Concerns? Share them in the comments below!

Sounds positive!
All sounds good to me, keep up the great work guys !!
So only the OP can add tags? I get a message telling me I am not authorised "invalid credentials - you cannot modify tags".

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