Trouble in Tag Town

Dylan Tweney comes out against Technorati’s rel= tagging scheme, and the requirement that tags be visible on the page (I’ve been irked by this requirement, but have gone along with it while waiting for something better to show up).

The problem with “microformats,” which Technorati is pushing pretty hard, is that they seem to be no more than poorly implemented metadata standards. … And encoding content as part of a linked page’s URL? How much more inflexible can you get? This is supposed to be an improvement over META tags?

This gets to the meat: “You want to make metadata visible? Write a browser plugin that lets you view META tags.”

Precisely. Data isn’t exactly “meta” if it’s right there on the page, is it?

Music: King Tubby :: 70 Times 7 – Prince Pompidou

5 Replies to “Trouble in Tag Town”

  1. Actually, I’d personally prefer not to have the metadata included in the page at all – they’re different entities and ought to be treated as such.

  2. Erwin, are you arguing for putting all metadata into an external file? I can see the academic point there, but what’s the practical advantage?

  3. I guess an advantage would be that you can have that linked file have any kind of structure you want, including already established meta-data standards.

    I myself however, would be in favour of simply settling on a set of new tags to use for this. I mean, isn’t XHTML called eXtensible for a reason?

    Already now any standard compliant browser will accept tags that aren’t directly part of the XHTML spec. If you put a tag in there and have a corresponding stylesheet rule for foo {} it will work just fine. Then you can use CSS to hide those tags if needed.

    While I agree with the general concept of having meta-data separate from the data itself, the reality of how things work in browsers today means that you will be very inflexible indeed. A plugin to show this data simply wouldn’t be enough.

    The often used paradigm of showing the tags applied to a page and then being able to click on them to see related pages cannot be built using this plugin.

    Also, having the meta-data somehow separate means that it will likely not get indexed with most search engines. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?

  4. You can tag it however you want, if I can’t find it via the search button on your site (and I mean any site not just BH) then it’s useless. I can usually remember where I read something but not the specific day when going to show someone else later on.

    Slashdot just started beta-testing tags. I’m not a fan. What’s the point for having categories of the searches if you’re just going to recategorize them into different groups with tags? I don’t even display my categories on my blog, there’s only four of them and most of my posts go under ‘family-friends’, a site like Slashdot has already invested time, money and effort into making subsites (it., games., YRO., etc) and now their going to piece it up even smaller? I don’t get it.

  5. Les, several reasons:

    1) When a site has a lot of content, as slashdot does, the categories grow too large to be useful, and more atomicity is desirable.

    2) Different users see a given piece of content through different lenses, and want to categorize it as such. By letting everyone tag, everyone gets to create the lenses they want, and gets to benefit from all of the lenses everyone else has created.

    3) Down with The Man!

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