Adding subject tags about content

This site welcomes your contributions on new subjects. When the content is in a wiki page or a blog, you can add tags to identify its subject. (For more information, see Contribute content and Add or edit a Wiki page.)

Why tag content

The tags that you apply appear in the footer of the abstract and of the complete topic. They permit readers to find other content that is on the same subject. Since a single topic may be about more than one subject, it often makes sense to apply multiple tags.

How to tag content

To add a tag, edit the topic you would like to tag, and enter the tag in the Tags field.

The tag cloud under Categories enables readers to navigate to subjects of their choice, and enables authors to find out what tags others are using. Tags can contain multiple words, and should begin with a capital letter. If you hesitate partway through typing the tag, an autocomplete function will show you what existing tags start with the letters you have typed. You can select the completion or continue typing.

To see what tags are already in use, you can open the Categories view in a new window or tab. You will see a tag cloud. The size of certain tags is increased to indicate that they are used often. If you see a tag that is small or missing, perhaps we need more content about it!

Economy in tagging

When tagging, it makes sense to add a tag when it will help the reader find your topic from related topics, or vice versa. If you mention something, but your topic is not about that, then it makes sense not to add a tag for it. Users who are interested in scanning lots of articles that mention a word can use search.

The best tag

Tagging is additive. As you add more tags, the collection of tags describes the collection of documents more and more completely.

It's tempting to imagine that there is one best tag to enable people to find a subject. But people frequently use multiple terms for the same subject. So don't be shy about offering the terms that you think apply.

How we clean up tags

Behind the scenes, we have a taxonomy for the subject tags. The taxonomy shows how the tags are related to one another. (We're not hiding it, but we haven't figured out how to display a read-only view of it that we don't have to maintain manually.)

When users add tags, they go into the top level of the taxonomy. As a first step, they are swept into a general category, such as New or Unclassified. Then they can be examined one by one and placed into the taxonomy.

When there are two terms for the same subject that differ in some insignificant way, such as in spelling or pluralization, we may collapse them so that the subjects tagged by the two terms are now tagged just by one. But if they are commonly-used alternate terms, they are allowed to live as alternates in their parent category.

Multiple categories

For taxonomy enthusiasts, we'll mention that the taxonomy of subjects allows the same subject to appear in multiple categories. The subject is considered to be the same wherever it appears. This permits a single subject to apply to items that are otherwise quite different.

Polysemy (multiple meanings)

You might be a little uncomfortable when a single tag is used to apply to multiple subjects. We try to avoid this by finding a term that has the specific sense that is meant. But sometimes, polysemy is necessary. If the tag applies and you can't find a good alternate, use it, even if someone else has used it to mean something else.


To compensate for the problem of multiple meanings, you (or an editor who can see the taxonomy) can look for the next-most-general subject tag. The way to do this is to try to figure out what separates one meaning from another.

Example 1: the subject tags "Specialization" and "Specializations"

For example, Specialization is a Concept. Specializations are a Resource. If we decided to collapse those terms, we would add the tag Concept to some topics and we would add the tag Resource to others. That would inform the person looking at the new, single tag, telling them which sense is meant.

Example 2: the subject tags "Taxonomy" and "Categories"

As of this writing, on this site, we're using Taxonomy as a tag for topics that are about how DITA handles taxonomies. We're using Categories as one of the tags for topics that are about the tagging system on the site. Maybe we'll have to give up on that distinction and collapse them. It depends on the users.

If we do collapse them to a single term, or so that both terms are used and have the same meaning, we'll have to add tags to the topics such as "DITA" and "Web site" so that users will know which sense is meant before they click on the tag. If we don't have to, that would be great, since DITA isn't a very specific tag on this site. If it applies to any topics, it applies to most of them. There's a definition field in the taxonomy so we can say when to use it, but if the users can't see or don't care about the taxonomy of subjects, that definition won't help very much.

Thanks Bruce. I'm still puzzled by how tags work on this site. When I click on a tag name in Flickr, I go to a list of photos that have the same tag. When I click on a category link in Wikipedia, I go to a list of articles in the category. Why doesn't this site work the same way? Is this a bug in the software?

On this site, when you click on a tag, you get a list of abstracts of the topics that have that tag. You can click on Read More at the bottom of the article to see the whole article.

What you're seeing is an artifact of the data. This article is a bit unusual, since none of its tags are used on any other article yet!

If you go to Categories and click on Open Toolkit, you'll get a number of abstracts to choose from. At the bottom of any abstract, you can click on other tags, such as "Publishing pipeline", to see abstracts on those subjects.

Bruce Esrig Information Architect / Interaction Designer

Oh, I see. I didn't understand that I was looking at a list of abstracts. Can we have the system display a line saying, "There are <number> pages tagged with "x"" or something like that? Or even just: "The following articles are tagged with "x"". Also perhaps displaying just a list of title would be more understandable and scalable than displaying abstracts. Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
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