Tag archive: advice

The what

Creating a consistent tagging system is like baking a perfect pie crust: it makes you salivate to think about, but some days it just doesn’t work out. Fortunately, consistent tagging (unlike a perfect pie crust) isn’t affected by humidity; all you need is some careful attention to detail. And perhaps the most important detail to keep in mind while you are tagging is “the what”.

Quite simply, the what is just your answer to a two-part question: what item and what attributes? Despite the simplicity of the question, knowing the what is a vital part of creating a consistent tagging system. You can take or leave my SLS guidelines, but if you really want consistency you’re going to have to ask yourself about attributes. [read more...]

More to life than tags

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: tags are an extremely flexible way to organize the mad rush of information that is your computer. As you no doubt have picked up (from the existence of this blog, if nothing else), I have a bit of a love affair with tags.

However, while tag-love is a special and beautiful thing, if you are going to create a really great tagging system one of the most important things you have to know is when not to tag. [read more...]

Tagging for productivity

I suppose I’ve put off talking about the actual tools you’ll use for tagging long enough. It’s time to do a run-down of the available tagging software with some advice from your’s truly on whether it’s worth using or not.

This series will focus on the different areas where you might be tagging: productivity (read: miscellaneous), file libraries and the file system, photos, bookmarks, and general writing. These articles will not contain specific workflow examples, however; I’m just pointing out the tools you can use. I’ll get to how best to actually use them later. [read more...]

Replacing spaces

Sadly, not all tagging software is coded equal. Sometimes tags are thrown in as just one more bell or whistle, intended to plump up a feature-set without being particularly useful. Other times developers don’t understand tags themselves and end up implementing them in a way that is not as friendly as it should be. Sometimes supporting spaces in tags causes other problems (such is the case when trying to roll your own tagging system using Spotlight comments).

In any case, you may well run across a piece of tagging software that does not allow you to use spaces in your tags, which can be a major pain in the nether regions. What you do about it is really up to you (although of course I have some suggestions), but when you decide remember the tagging mantra: consistency, consistency, consistency. Pick something and stick with it. [read more...]

Some tagging resources

My vision for Tagamac involves turning it into a resource that helps people with all aspects of tagging: understanding the concepts, finding software, creating a workflow, tagging consistently, etc. However, that’s a lot to cover, and it’s going to take me time to get to everything. While I’m plugging away at it, though, there are people out there who want to know how to tag right now. Quite frankly, in its current inception, Tagamac is not particularly helpful when it comes to jumping straight into tags. I don’t have any software recommendations or workflow advice; so far I’ve mainly been defining and offering basic guidelines.

I will try to get some software recommendations and reviews written in the near future, but it may be some time before I’m able to jump headfirst into real workflows. In the meantime, I’d like to offer some good resources elsewhere on the web that you can use to get your tagging system off the ground. Sadly, I haven’t been able to locate many good resources (which is a big reason I started Tagamac, actually), but at least there’s a few. [read more...]

A singular question

Since I published my advice on tagging best practices, the most common question I’ve received has been something along the lines of “why the heck would you use singular tags?” Everyone agrees that consistency is the name of the game, and it’s hard to argue with succinctness. Some people disagree with using lowercase tags, but quite honestly it’s mainly personal preference (unless the program uses case-sensitive searching).

Whether or not to use singular tags, though, is a much more open question, and I’d like to lay out the reasons that I included a recommendation to stick to singular. [read more...]

Tagging best practices

Consistency: succinct, lowercase, singularIn all honesty, best practices for tagging vary greatly depending on the type of tagging system and tag browser you are using. Additionally, because tags are so flexible, how you use them also relies a lot on what makes sense to you. There are still some things you should think about when you tag, though, and I think they’re important enough that I’m posting them now before I dive more in-depth into tags.

First off is tagging’s golden rule: be consistent. You can disregard every other piece of advice I give you, but consistency is the single thing you must strive for when tagging. Everything else is window dressing. That said, here are three things that I think almost every tag should be, regardless of what program or system you’re using: succinct, lowercase, and singular. [read more...]