Why We Tag and How We Tag:. Understanding User Tagging Behavior on a Chinese Social Sharing Site. Li He. What is Tagging?. Collaborative social tagging : assign free-form descriptive terms, also known as tags, to resources
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Understanding User Tagging Behavior on a Chinese Social Sharing Site
"… help you to find the people who shares your interests in movie, music, and books, and discover more good stuff through them." 
Three sets of Douban data were derived in a 30-day timeframe, from October 13th to November 12th.
For each user, the following data were collected on a daily base:
On the last day of the data collection period, the 7 users' tags were all derived for a content analysis
1. The following data were collected on a daily base for 5 books, 5 music albums and 5 movies :
2. The resource(s) saved by the 7 users during the data collection period and the most popular 8 tags assigned to them
V=movie tag; B=book tag; M=music tag
The left graph shows the proportion changes of each of the 8 most popular tagsfor one resource. Obviously, each tag’s use frequency is a nearly fixed proportion. The most popular one tends to grow a little bit more, but the less used ones remain quite stable. This conclusion is again confirmed when we look at the proportion changes of the most popular tag of the 15 resources. The lines are all fairly flat.
The graph shows the proportion of each kind of tags for movie resources of different popularity. Opinion tags and Self Reference tags gradually go off the main stage as more people save the resource. While the proportions of Name tags and Category tags remain almost the same; Title tags, on the other hand, exhibit an apparent increase.
In general, the tag pool size of the 7 observed users is growing over time as they add more resources. But their resource and tag collection sizes and the relationship between the twoshow quite a degree of variance. Some users have a large resource collection but a small tag pool, while some build their tag pools faster than saving resources.
The graph is the coding result of the total tags of the 7 users. The left part shows the percentage of each kind of tag by weight (times of use), the right part shows the percentage by the quantity of that kind of tag.
The constitution of a user’s tag pool is quite similar to that of the most popular tags for a resource. Again, Name tags take up the largest part, and are frequently used. The two Keyword tags, Category and Subject tags are also very often assigned to resources, followed by Region tags. Opinion tags and Self Reference tags are comparatively much less used. Two users don’t have any Personal tag at all.
Percentages of Keyword tags in the tag pool generally increase when calculated by weight, while that of the Name tag decrease. This is extremely obvious for User3. Besides name variations discussed above, it is possible that Name tags serve more as additional access points for others and, while Descriptor tags, especially Category tags are used for retrieval.
1. Personal Information Management
All respondents stated that their primary purpose of tagging is to better manage their collection for future retrieval.
2. Interest Discovery
Only 1 respondent mentioned this motivation; others agreed it could be one of the motivationsin the follow-up question, but they didn’t consciously tag for this purpose.
Surprisingly, other motivations suggested by the literature in the English world, such as Attract Attention, Self Presentation, Performance, Communication were not recognized by the respondent.
1. Random or systematic?
Only 1 respondent replied that he always tags randomly. Others stated that they have a clear idea of what to tag and how to make use of tags. A summary of their replies suggests:
2. Tag preference
3. Interactions with the tagging system
4. Tag management
Several respondents said that they were clueless when they first knew about tagging, having no idea of what tagging can do for them. And they just followed others. As they gained more experience, more systematic tagging habits were developed. They would then notice there is a certain amount of repetitive (functionally or semantically) tags and tags that they have little use of.But they find it “difficult”, “tiring” and “very time-consuming” to edit them, and would do so only when they are really idle.
Main tag management activities include:
System support of tagging could become offensive because too much machine interference may abuse the individuality and “democratic” nature of tagging. The environment that tagging takes place would be an important factor for the design of system support.
“Traditional taggers” (librarians, indexers, etc) may benefit by looking at the social tagging practices of their patrons. It has been recognized that the distance between the standard language and public popular language, or the semantic gap, will impede resource discovery and hence the degree that audiences engage with the information repository. So social tagging and folksonomy could be helpful to gain a better understanding of user’s perceptions of the information domain, by offering an opportunity for the institutions to connect with individuals. Of course, it will be ridiculous to observe the highly divergent Del.icio.us users, but enterprises or organizations with specific user groups may find this approach worth taking.