Knowledge Base

A Style Guide for Tags and Metadata


This is a style guide to tagging content - it assumes you know what a tag is and how to create tags, as described in the rest of the knowledge base.  The purpose of this article is thus to describe good tag etiquette in order to get the most out of this powerful system.

Why should I care about tags?

Tags are probably the most powerful way to aggregate content from the hub across completely different types and domains of content.  Searching the tag "Dynamical Systems" will pull up all courses, talks, reading lists, users, groups, collections, etc. which are dynamical systems oriented.  Tags can also be about content type, such as "Conference"; searching both "Dynamical Systems" and "Conference" will pull up all announcements about conferences on Dynamical Systems, and content from conferences on dynamical systems such as papers, posters and talks.  Tags gives any user the ability to rapidly access the various resources MCRN provides to users, including the expertise of its membership, allowing researchers and educators to connect on common interests and share their tools and knowledge.   However, tags are not like Keywords.  Tags require users to "tag" their content during or after its creation, so that it will be associated to this tag in particular.    This level of user control in how associations are made between content allows experts to give more informed information about content than a standard search algorithm, but with the power comes responsibility.  This article is thus to give suggestions on "best practice" in using meta data.

Rule #1: Look for existing tags.

So you just uploaded some beautiful content and you're not sure what would be good tags for it.  Tags are usually in the form of subject matter and content type, media type, and sometimes level of expertise, as to distinguish content that would be interesting as a tutorial or useful for educators, from specialized research level talks.  In any case, look for existing tags on similar content to get a sense of what others think is useful, and what tags already exist in the system.  Tags are useful for aggregating content, so if there is a tag which is only being used once, searching this tag only pulls up one item.  The more items which share tags, the more useful the tag is in collecting content.

Rule #2: Avoid redundant tags.

Maybe you have a beautiful dynamical system model, and you've posted a talk about it.  You might get the urge to tag it "Dynamical System".  Don't do it!  This would be a redundant tag, given the existing "Dynamical Systems" tag; good style is to use the existing tag with close meaning.  When you look for existing tags, check for alternate spellings, and closely related tags to one you might want to add.  Your talk will get more attention if it is with a popular tag.

Rule #3: Try to tag content at a broad level of association.

Suppose you give a focus group talk about a study of a well known model such as the Lorenz '63 Model, using numerical methods.   If are using a very specific numerical method in your study that will only be meaningful to specialists, consider using tags such as: "Dynamical Systems", "Numerical Methods", "Research", "Lorenz '63" and "seminar", but include the specific method you use in your abstract.  Tags that are overly specific won't be used broadly enough to collect content.  However, there may be a justifiable reason to use a very specific tag, for instance if you have a research group studying this method, multiple talks and papers about its development, etc...

Rule #4: Keep Tags Work Appropriate.

You are encouraged to tag your profile with your professional interests as well as your personal interests---these tags should follow common sense guidelines of what is appropriate to share in a professional scientific community.

OK, I understand how a tag should look, how many tags should I add to my content?

If you are following good style in tagging, add as many tags as you think are useful for the specific content.  Some items need one, others might do well with 10.  You want to make your content searchable and easily discovered by others who would be interested in it.  Anything that you think is relevant about the content, and you think could help other members connect to it should be tagged.

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