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July 28, 2008


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Bob Lancaster

I’m a big fan of tags in general and find them very helpful. does a great job of tag management offering a variety of ways to use and access tags. I use tags primarily to find information on a particular topic and rarely use them based on their popularity.

So I see tag clouds being useful for people who are looking for what’s popular but I would prefer to type my subject/tag into a field and see if I get any hits.

Bill Ives


Thanks for your comment and I agree with your persepective. It seems that tag clouds are good for the (human) browsers and search fields for these who know what they want. I think they are complementary. Bill

Doug Cornelius

Bill -

I do not think tag clouds should be used for navigation. They are useful to add information to tags and to provide some insight into what a site is all about.

If you have a list of categories on a blog, I think a flat list more useful than a cloud to highlight those categories.

The tag cloud is useful in an about section to help give an overview of the topics in the blog.

The massive scale of tags in Flickr requires a tag cloud to help highlight content. Humble bloggers like us do not have those massive amounts of data that need massive amounts of metadata to highlight and find content.

I use tag clouds in presentations to set a backdrop about me. See the second slide:

Bill Ives

Doug - Thanks. I use a flat category list on my blog for the reason you mention. I really like your slide. How did you generate that cloud with tags in different directions. Does the placement, as well as the size, matter? Bill

Mike Gil

Hi Bill -- It looks like Doug used Wordle to create the tag cloud you see in the slide: It's a very interesting toy/tool!

I favor the tag cloud on my blog to complement (not replace) a time-based TOC. These devices, along with a summary of the last "n" posts, provide users with several different ways to dive into information of interest to them.

Bill Ives

Mike - Thanks for your comment. You made a very important point. It is useful to offer a variety of ways to find the stuff that falls off the front page of a blog. Too often this content gets lost except perhaps through search engines. Perhaps i will fire up my tag cloud again, if not for no no other reason than my own insight on the relative weight of stuff. Bill

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