I like tagging when it is appropriate. But tagging slashdot stories is not going to work well. For tags to work they must have some benefit to the individual and some use to the group. The two places they work the best are del.icio.us and flickr. In both cases you organize your data by your tags. Your data is bookmarks and photos respectively. As a side result, you can get statistics about the most popular things with different tags. People don't tag things for the good of the community, they tag things to organize data in some way that is relevent to them.
Take a tagging system that is a failure: amazon.com product tags. Amazon introduced tagging in hopes of getting some new ways of slicing their product database. It turns out that are using the tags mostly for who on their gift list might want the thing. So you end up with lots of tags like "Bob", "Sue", and "Caroline". These tags have almost no use to the larger community. Amazon makes it worse by displaying the top tags for a product even when there are only one or two folks that have tagged something that way.
So why is it bad for Slashdot? Slashdot's implementation doesn't do anything at all for the end user
. The tagging system seems to be designed only around the group aspects. Features that would be needed to make this work:
- Ability to see your articles as your have tagged them.
- See what tags you have specified for a specific article
Without those, people just have no incentive at all to tag anything.
If Slashdot actually changed the page because of how you tag stories the results might be better. For example if somebody tags something "dupe", or "boring" it would be removed from that person's front page. On the other side, if it was tagged "cool" it would remain on the front page for longer.
As it is, I'll probably be tagging stories as to how I feel about them to start with and see if anybody notices. If nothing happens, I'll probably stop tagging altogether.