Clusters improve tagging

Tagging is great, but it has its problems for sure. One is the old plural versus singular dillema. I don’t have any set rules for which I use, which is a problem.

The second is double meaning. ‘Jaguar‘ and ‘Bush‘ are two that I’ve read about today.

Flickr — oh, they are so great — have come up with an ingenius solution — clustering. So now you can see that Jaguar is separated between a cluster about cars and a cluster about zoos (but not animals?). And Bush is separated into clusters for the president, for nature, for trees and for… graffiti. Okay, so it’s not perfect, but it’s a real improvement.

Now to sort out the singular / plural thing!


  1. Interesting (clusters), but it looks like they are statically defined :(. I have dynamic clusters for Simpy (social bookmarking system with tagging and full-text search), but haven’t enabled it yet, although I plan on doing it in the Fall. Clusters are nice to look at and browse around and discover. A full-text search is still better for finding a particular known piece of information.

  2. Oh, and one more thing about plural versus singular… Hm, I can’t find my blog post/comment where I talked about this before, but the essence was that with time, the dominant form will emerge.

    For instance, if you look at you will see recommended tags on the right side of the screen. This is where users can _choose_ tags that the crowd is using, and “pick-sides” (plural vs. singular, etc.), so to speak.

    There is also stemming. If you go play with Simpy (feel free to use a demo/demo account for read-only access), and use both singular and plural tags, you will see that while they are listed separately in some UI elements, clicking on either one will get you the links tagged with _both_ forms. This is by design.

    Finally, you can bring order to your tag chaos, at least in Simpy, where you’ll find 4 key tag functions: rename, remove, merge, and split. With these 4 functions you can do pretty much everything you need with your tags, including renaming singular tags to their plural forms and vice versa.
    Simpy is at

  3. Clusters en flickr y otros

    Flickr ha empezado a realizar clustering: los resultados de las búsquedas ya aparecen agrupados en clusters, lo que facilita encontrar tags relacionados con el que hemos introducido. Aun así, no es un método perfecto, a veces apar…