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View Poll Results: Do you think tags are a good idea on a forum?
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Old 12.06.2007, 18:40
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Tags - Marking your threads with keywords

What are tags?

Tags are descriptive labels that describe the content of a thread. They are not the same thing as a thread title and are usually created by humans (normally the owner or creator of a thread). This extra information helps to make it easier for other people, as well as search engines, to locate the thread. Tags can be used to provide links between threads with similar topics. Those of you who use so-called Wikipedia reference-linkWeb 2.0 services like Flickr, Facebook or Wikipedia reference-linkblogs are already familiar with tags.

How should I tag my new thread?

Just consider the content you are about to write. Let's imagine that we are going to write a new thread about non-smoking restaurants in Zurich. Perhaps our title will be "Zurich: Non-smoking restaurant reviews". But what would our tags be? All you need to do is think of a list of keywords that might describe the content of your message, and separate these words with commas. You can use up to fifteen tags to describe a thread. Make them relevant, and spell them correctly. Let's consider what we would add:


Figure 1.1 - Adding tags to a new thread

In this example we entered more tags that could fit into the box, so they aren't shown in the picture. The full list of tags was: non-smoking, smoking, restaurants, reviews, restaurant reviews, food, dining, health, eating, Zurich

That's all there is to it! You may wish to look at examples of how other threads have been tagged and ask yourself whether these tags really describe the content. Congratulations, you've already begun to understand tags.

Now you are ready to enter the tags for your new thread. Do come back to this thread and check out the second part of our guide later, which goes into further details about how to get more out of tags on the forum.

Perhaps you might also like to check out the Wikipedia entry on tags, which gives some excellent background information.
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  #2  
Old 13.06.2007, 02:30
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Lesson 2: How can I do more with tags?

Where can I see the tags?

If the thread you are viewing has been tagged, you can see the list of tags at the top of the thread, like this:


Figure 2.1 - Viewing the tags used in a thread

If you are viewing a forum that uses tags, you can see the most popular tags from all the threads in that forum:


Figure 2.2 - Viewing the most popular tags in a forum

If you wish to see a list of the one hundred most popular tags used in the entire forum, click the "Quick Links" menu in the navigation bar at the top-right of the page and select the "Tags" link from the menu.


Figure 2.3 - Viewing the most popular tags in the entire tag cloud

You have probably also noticed that more frequently used tags appear larger than the less popular tags. Tags are sorted in alphabetical order. You can also view the so-called "tag cloud" at any time simply by typing www.englishforum.ch/tags into your browser.

How can I actually use these tags?

Just click on one and see what happens. Let's click on the "apartment" tag in the screen we saw in figure 2.3. We are then presented with a list of all threads which have been tagged with "apartment".


Figure 2.4 - Locating threads tagged with "apartment"

How can I search for a tag?

Maybe you would like to search for threads with a certain tag, but you can't see it in the list. Remember that the list of all tags only shows you the most popular tags - there may be many more. We search for tags exactly the same way we search for keywords within posts, via the "Search" menu in the navigation bar at the top-right of the page.

When we want to search the forum for keywords, we would use the "Search Forums" box on the search menu, but we want to search for tags, so instead we use the box below that labelled "Search Tags". Let's go ahead and enter our search term:


Figure 2.5 - Searching for tags

This returns a list of all tags containing the word "apartment". Note that we have a few different tags which match this criteria.


Figure 2.5 - Finding all tags containing the word "apartment"

From here the procedure is the same as it was above - simply click the tag you would like and a list of all threads tagged with that tag will be shown.

You will also note that like the normal forum search, the tag search also has an option for "Advanced Search". This allows you to specify far greater control over your search for a tag. This advanced search mode works pretty much the same way as the normal forum advanced search, so we won't discuss this in detail.

If you haven't already done so, you may with to view the guide to effective searching on the forum, which discussed the advanced search mode in detail.

How can I add a tag?

You already learned how to add tags in lesson one, when you created your thread. What if you would like to add tags to a thread you created earlier? Simply go to your thread and you will see a dialogue box at the top of the thread. Simply enter the relevant tags, separated by commas, then click "Add". For a quick review on how to choose your tags, refer to lesson one above.


Figure 2.6 - Adding tags to your existing thread

Remember that you can only add tags to a thread that you have created, so you won't see that option appear on other people's threads. Now we see that our tags have been added:


Figure 2.7 - Viewing tags on your own thread

Do you notice the [X] after each tag? This leads us to the next question:

How can I delete a tag?

Easy - just click that [X] and the tag will be deleted. If you make a mistake, just add the tag again as per the instructions above. Remember that you will only see the options to delete tags when the tags belong to a thread that you have written.

Will my tags be sent anywhere else?

Yes, all of the tags at English Forum are exported to a service called Zoints. All the tags from the forum are then combined with other tags from other forums into a giant tag cloud. You can see an example of this here [zoints.com].


Figure 2.8 - Tags sent to a larger tag cloud, EF thread visible in external site's tag list

The exporting of our tags brings many advantages - such as more visibility in search engines and another way that people outside the forum can be attracted to your thread. In the end the choice is yours - better tags (and thread titles) means more and more people may find your thread.

For those who are interested in digging deeper into tags, you can find an in-depth article on the subject here [shirky.com].
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  #3  
Old 14.06.2007, 01:29
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Discussion about tagging (the guide)

If you have a question about something in this guide or would like to discuss it further, please proceed directly to:

Discussion thread for the tagging guide
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