User Generated Content and “Tagging”

I blogged in December about how fast growing web sites are often fueled by user content. Users post content, which attracts more users (as search engine index this content), who in turn post more content.

Today I discovered a new Idealab company called Insiderpages that is focused on the local yellow pages market. All the local listings are created by users. "The yellow pages written by friends", it says. Launched in November, the site has a 1 week Alexa ranking of 50,000, which is excellent for such a new site.

Another new site that lives on user generated content is 43things.com, a site apparently funded by an investment from Amazon.com. The site has a 1 week Alexa ranking of 9,620. That is extremely impressive. The site has recently gotten a ton of media coverage, primarily because of its connection to Amazon.

43things.com, like deli.cio.us and flickr, uses "tagging" — a new term that describes how every keyword that a customer uses to describe a photo, a web site, or a goal (or whatever object they are commenting on) becomes a tag that other customers can click on to find all other objects that also use that keyword.

I think the difference between the terms "tags" and "keywords" is that the term "keywords" primarily describes search engine queries while the term "tags" is used to identify metadata about content — and the metadata is used to create navigation links for other users.

Here are the most popular tags at 43things.com. They use tags to help people find other people with similar goals.

I’ve only discovered the term "tagging" in the last couple of weeks, and I haven’t yet built any sites that use tagging; but I think this is going to become very common on the web. I’m adding the term "tagging" it to my Google News Alerts keyword list so that I can see how other companies use it in conjuction with user generated content.

3 Comments

  1. I originally introduced keywords in my blog in the common way, as tokens to insert in the query panel to match with post’ words. Then I introduced tags (without changing the name ‘keywords’) to label the posts to have a new way to search the posts in the blog, sort of dynamic cathegorization. I also created two different panels, 1 for textual search on keywords and 1 for tag search on tags.
    now I learned by two years experience that’s no difference : tags are extension of keywords, the search is only one, the panel could be only one, distinction is optional, just to refine searches.
    Maybe I’ll change the name keywords in tags. That’s all.

  2. Daniel Ray

    Tagging (folksonomy, social metadata, etc.)is quite an interesting phenomenon, but I wonder about sustained use without a more tangible and practical application of the concept.

    The idea itself is quite interesting, but the concept of simply browsing through disjunct bits information without a clearly defined purpose, while pretty cool when you stumble across something interesting, is time consuming and ineffiecient.

    However, this concept of social metadata applied to other initiatives like the community yellowpages connected to location based mobile services is something quite interesting.

    Suddenly, you have a restaurant suggestion from a friend of a friend when in an unfamiliar city.

    Combine this with Alexa-esque info (visitors of this restaurant also visited…) and ‘physical’ tagging (visitors of this restaurant were also interested in… and recommend) becomes a practical tool and valuable service.

    This is sort of like a modern version of symbols used years ago by hobos to share their knowledge and experience about a physical location with others that might travel after (http://www.slackaction.com/signroll.htm)

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