What will we use tags for eventually?

As I understand it, there are very few of us who have the necessary “trust level” to create Discourse tags for our forums.

This is probably a good thing, since it gives us time to decide how we want to use them rather than having open slather from day 1.

Here’s a few of my initial thoughts on this (based on just a few minutes thinking on the subject, I’m very open to hearing other people’s opinions).

  • Tags appear to be a bit of a second class citizen in Discourse. The top down will list all posts that use a single specific tag and the advanced search will let you do a search on multiple tags.
  • In my opinion the Discourse user interface isn’t well suited to a large quantity of tags (there isn’t even a tag cloud for example)
  • The regular search works very well without involving tags, I can get a list of posts dating back 20 years in about 2 seconds.
  • Unless we adjust the site settings, users will have to be very frequent users of the forums before they can create new tags for their posts. This seems to imply that the Discourse designers expected new tag creation to be an infrequent activity.

All of the above makes me think that a more focused tagging approach would be the way to go.

Perhaps tags could be based around Delphi feature names or third party product names for example:

  • generics
  • managed-records
  • devexpress-grid
  • tms-grid
  • tms-aurelius
  • abbrevia
  • raize-controls
  • anonymous-methods

With this scheme each post would probably only use 1-2 tags.

Working together it would also be possible to build in advance a pretty comprehensive list of major Delphi features and third party products. The moderators could then take that list, consolidate and refine it before importing it into the system. The list would probably have a few hundred tags in it, but not the few thousand that would likely result from us opening tag creation up to everyone.

I see the advantage in this kind of tag naming scheme is that it enables me to browse all posts on a particular major feature/product, so I can brush up my skills in that area.

I don’t really see tags as being helpful in the case when I have a specific problem with a product or feature. The Discourse search already gives me instantaneous results going back 20 years of ADUG mailing list posts. Tags aren’t really going to help as much as specific search terms (particularly since the 20 year archive will never be tagged).

Anyway that’s my (somewhat preliminary) thoughts on the topic of tagging. I’m happy to be hear others opinions on the matter though.