DevSummit07:If I Could Do the NPTech Tag Over Again

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If I Could do the NPTech Tag Over Again -Facilitated by Marnie Webb

Background: The NPTech tag is used on del.icio.us and Tehcnorati to designate technical resources that may be useful to nonprofits. It started right when these sites had just started, and it arose from the need to develop a nonprofit technology taxonomy. The idea was to tell people to tag with nptech everything that is relevant and then look to see what was being tagged to see how the tags were being used. It was a big surprise that this started being used by a large group of people, and also that tags started being used for just about everything (photos, blog posts, etc.).

nptech was chosen so that it made sense, and because it was short -- short and intuitive. Therefore, the goal was to encourage people to use it. Over time, as people started using it more often, it was being used to market and advertise. At first, tagging (bookmarking) was used for individual use, and then it started being more social and more as a means to broadcast information.

The problem with seeing how it was used is that there wasn't necessarily enough data about how people were tagging -- as in there was not enough sites that multiple people tagged Also,del.icio.us is not easy to get a large amount of data out of.

In evaluating the use of the nptech tag, it was discovered that a lot of people were using the tag, but not necessarily reading the tag. It was also discovered that people want a directory of resources.

Tagging is fraught with peril. It's too idiosyncratic. It's too easy to misspell. The same tag may mean different things to different people.

Writing notes -- it helps to provide context to the use of the tag.

Marnie always starts encouraging people to tag for themselves, and then hoping they will want to do so at a later point for the community. There's a widget that allows people to tag the site with the appropriate tag and they don't have to do anything else.

How do you explain tagging to people to get them to use tags to share information? It helps to walk people through it. It also helps to use flickr, since it's easier to explain it using pictures.

Tagging as an ultra-light CMS -- aggregate RSS feeds onto a website so that newbie users can get instant gratification. "Just tag it with this, and it will show up here".