July 06, 2005

Honor Tags

Dan Gillmor and Bayosphere have worked up an interesting tagging system, to differentiate the types of blog posts people are making, if they choose to self-tag their posts. They plan to pull those tagged items into their site to reflect back activities in certain categories. This has some advantages but also presents some problems, though I think there are community solutions that can moderate the problems.

Benefits of Honor Tags include:
- more fine grained searching, based on the ability to pivot on a couple of tags... where you can find the intersection of a type of post and a topic to see just those that have both kinds of tags
- community affiliation, closeness and participation due to special tag understanding and use
- people will declare their intentions
- there is potential for advertising based on these tags or aggregated groups of posts with tags
- we might find there is better tracking of reputations than we did before
- it might allow users of the tags to have a better shot at legal protection for self proclaimed journalism makers, as they make a kind of journalism
- users of these Honor tags can self-tag one post at a time, so one tag can be about one thing, and another can be another.. it's on a post-by-post basis that we understand these designations instead of by blog or by blogger (in other words, it's not self-tagging as a journalist, but rather as self-tagging a journalism-categorized post).

Problems that might creep up with this tag system:
- people are often either not honest about themselves, or simply don't classify themselves well because they are not very self-aware, or understand the definitions of the classifications differently, so they may state something different that what the community perceives them to be
- some outside the Bayosphere community may feel it's elitist
- as the benefits/results of self-tagging one kind of post become more visible either in search results or other aggregation pages, some people will game the system, especially if there are advertising dollars at stake
- people will game reputations of themselves and others for variety of reasons
- people will game the links to be included in search or display systems in malicious ways just because they can

I think the community should moderate the use of these tags, to solve some of the problems that may arise from Honor Tag use. Some things that might help the community do this include:
- Users could make tags that are about self describing an action, at one point in time, in one post (so it's 'journalism' for a post, not 'journalist' as one's status)
- Users of the tags should make it clear that this Honor Tag system is for a particular community, and specifically for certain acts, not defining people, but that anyone can use the tags and is welcome to participate in this community through their blogs and use of these tags
- Users and the community as a whole could help make it clear that people can use any and all tags on a post by post basis.. meaning.. one post is journalism, and another is advocacy, depending on what's in the post
- Users and Bayosphere together could create some community moderation for the tag use so that if the community sees a bad actor, they can report it, and if there is a dispute, allow the community to decide what to do about it, and even how to handle it.

I'm very interested in seeing how people use these tags, and what the results are on Bayosphere aggregation pages (which I hear are coming soon) and through services like Technorati. One thing I'm already noticing is that I'm having trouble deciding which tag or tags to use for this post. I want to use one of the tags, but is this advocacy? or reporting? or personal? It's kind of all three, including the personal since right at this point in the post, I'm discussing my own tagging and classification issue. Humans are messy and we have trouble saying what we are, and sticking to one thing at a time.

I'm also really enjoying the creative ways people are coming up with to tag things, and I hope that Bayosphere and Honor Tags will keep tinkering with the classifications, tag structure and the UI and information meaning of the aggregation pages that collect the tags. These systems and tagging generally are very early stage and need a lot of work, but I'd definitely encourage people to try out Honor Tags and see what happens as their posts get pulled into other sites. I'm sure that the community around Bayosphere will have lots of feedback as they play with tagging. I think it's fantastic that Dan & crew are taking the plunge on this to try to figure out something interesting.

Good Luck!

Posted by Mary Hodder at July 6, 2005 04:53 PM | TrackBack