(the content on this page is reproduced with permission from Robyn Jay)

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CC FlickR image: Sarah Parrott


A tag is a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). They help describe an item and allow it to be found again by browsing or searching. Tags are chosen informally and personally by the item's creator or by its viewer, depending on the system. Mostly they have no spaces although it is possible to use underscores.

Tagging was popularized by websites associated with Web 2.0 and is an important feature of many Web 2.0 services such as FlickR.
Tags are a "bottom-up" type of classification, compared to hierarchies, which are "top-down". In a traditional hierarchical system (taxonomy), the designer sets out a limited number of terms to use for classification, and there is one correct way to classify each item. In a tagging system, there are an unlimited number of ways to classify an item, and there is no "wrong" choice. Instead of belonging to one category, an item may have several different tags.

Tag clouds

Websites that include tags often display collections of tags as tag clouds. This collective set of tags is known as a folksonomy.

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Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_(metadata)

How do you use them?

Some of the most useful and easy to use online applications and services use tagging. FlickR and social bookmarking sites such as Diigo or Del.icio.us are good examples.

As a personal user the effective use of tags will assist you to sort and search your online resources. The issue with tags is that they are personal; what I choose to tag a resource with may be different to what you would use. The resulting risk is that we may not find each others resources.
Therefore, if you want to use sites such as FlickR with a group or network, it is more efficient to decide on a core set of tags that the group will use. It is useful for groups to include one tag that delineates the group itself – something unique. The tag artsUNSW for example is unlikely to be used by others (although its worthwhile checking first!). BY using the tag on all resources it allows an easy search that will pull up every resource saved by the group. Further more specific tags will allow a more refined search.
These of course can be supplemented by personal tags meaningful to you.

Sites of interest