Contextual Tagging

By Deane Barker on July 28, 2006

Time for Contextual Tagging?: This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit since the tagging craze came along: a field of tags should describe content down a single axis. Other axes should be described with another field.

If I wanted to say that a photograph was of the Chrysler Building, but taken from the Empire State Building, then tagging it with “chryslerbuilding, empirestatebuilding” doesn’t cut the mustard, as this implies that the photograph is of these two buildings.

Similarly, a blog about Lebanon which is written for children could not be tagged as “lebanon, children” as this would imply an entry about children in Lebanon.

My example is a client who has a blog about public policy. He needs to record two things about each content item:

  1. The subject matter (economy, heath care, etc.)
  2. The format (whitepaper, policy statement, etc.)

Assuming I do this with tags, I don’t want to confuse those two axes of description, so I think you need to two tags fields: subject matter, and format. Tag searches would search each independently.



  1. Deane,

    I invite you to give RawSugar a look. Our service, which can work for a single blog or across many, has hierarchical tagging as the basis for a very powerful search engine. When you do a search, you always get a tag box (organized by relevance) at the left with the best tags to further refine your search.

    Bill Lazar
    Manager, Customer Experience
    My movie review blog, indexed by RawSugar

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