Let's Play Tags - I'm It!
My kids still play Tag, even though the oldest one becomes a teenager this month (), so I'm going to assume that, like me, you are not too old to play a variation of this age-old game. The game I want to play with you is called Tags, with an 's'. I'm going to start out being "It", and I will explain the rules below, but first a little background. In my first post in this Magic Bookshelf blog, when I answered the question "what is a blog", I talked briefly about tags. I've noticed that many of you, as you've gotten more familiar with our new site, have been putting tags in with your questions and answers, and that is wonderful. But not everyone has, and I'm guessing that's because I have not really fully explained how much these little technological wonders can help us in our quest to build the best possible Magic Bookshelf.
How Tags Can Help
Tags are really just about finding what you are looking for at the moment that you're looking for it. I spoke before of a Create-A-Pedia, a place where you can go to find whatever you're looking for regarding your creative pursuits without having to sift through a mountain of information to get it. This is exactly what the effective use of tags will allow us all to do. For example, let's say you love to embroider but you've never used embroidery software, and your knowledge of software in general is limited to typing a few e-mails to family and friends. You hear your embroidery buddies talking about what theirs can do, you've seen some demos online perhaps, and you really want to expand your horizons and make some of the beautiful projects that other people are making. But you're concerned first of all that you won't be able to use the software because of your technical limitations, and second of all that you might go out and spend hard-earned or carefully saved money on something that doesn't even help you make what you want to make.
You Could Just Google It...
Imagine how easy it would be if you could just click on the name of a software that you're considering and find immediately the answers to all those concerns. Imagine if, with just one click, you could view not only the software product itself (that's always easy to find, as there's always someone wanting to sell you something!) but also technical questions that other novices had about it, testimonials and critiques from people who owned it, pictures of projects made using it, and even detailed instructions on how it was used in a few of those projects to get you started if you did decide to purchase it. This is exactly what tags allow you to do. Don't believe me? If you click on the 'alphabet xpress' tag anywhere on our site, you'll get just that. Click here to see what I mean. Three pages of results (testimonials, technical issues, projects, photos) on Alphabet Xpress; enough information to make a decision, but nothing like a Google search that brings up over a million results, at least 90% of which are of no interest whatsover to you.
The Community Busybody
There is even a name for that mess of tags that you see at the left side of your screen. It's called a tag cloud (most of the tag clouds on our site are long and thin -- like me -- but on some blogs they actually do look like clouds!). Did you know that you can click on any of the terms and you'll go to a page that has everything in our community that relates to that subject? Tags on our site show up in alphabetical order, but you may have noticed that some tags in the cloud show up bigger than others. Any idea why that is? Is it because someone just likes them better? Well, in a sense, yes. The big tags are the ones that have been referenced in the most posts. You know how there's always one neighbour on the street or down the hall who always seems to know what everyone in the neighborhood is doing? That's what tag clouds do -- they give you a great idea of what other people in the community are up to.
Leading By Example
So that's the scoop about using tags to find what you're looking for; how about actually creating them? Well, I think the best way to show you how to create them is to first show you an example and then ask you to do one yourself. For the example part, I need go no further than to point out a community member who (without any direction from me -- honest) has been using tags very effectively. My vote for our current champion tagger is cuzzins; every time cuzzins posts something, she tags her posts so that others may find them more easily when they are looking for information. I have no doubt that countless lost souls have found comfort and solace in her tags -- okay, maybe not, but they've at least found her posts!
Tags - You're It!
So now it's time to play Tags! The rules are simple; I am no longer "It" because I've created some tags below for this post (tags, magic bookshelf, finding information, etc.), so you're "It". Tags are used throughout the Community section of our site; for our blogs, our photo galleries, and our forums, so you can post to any of these and you'll have a chance to try tagging. Once you tag, you will no longer be "It". If you write a post or put up a picture, and you can't think of any tags, click on the 'Select Tags' button and view tags that other community members have used, then click 'Ok' and those tags will be added to your post. I really do hope you'll try it, not only because, like the game of tag that kids play, it will be good exercise (of the mental rather than the physical kind), but also because the more of our community members who tag their posts, the easier it will be to find information and the better that information will be.
Doesn't that sound like fun?