Are Tags Dead?

When tags burst into the spotlight tags were hailed as the second coming of Jesus for the web. Flickr was using tags to organize photos, and del.cio.us to sort bookmarks. My first set of photos I uploaded on Flickr of the deviantArt summit were tagged pretty thoroughly, I loved the ability to see photos of similar content by clicking on the little globe, so I added as much detail as I thought was reasonable and likely to get results.

Blogs were on the tag bandwagon too, the demand for tags, was for a long time, outstripping the WordPress team’s ability or desire to add this functionality spurred plugins to do just that. I installed Christine Davis’ Ultimate Tag Warrior on every blog project I could until WordPress finally came out with built-in tag support, albeit very limited compared to what the community had created in the years prior.

There even grew Technorati tags out of the excitement, a once hailed blog search tool that used your articles tags to help categorize the results it returned. It was the age of the folksonomy revolution; collaborative tagging, pivot browsing, and social indexing were the hallmark of user driven content. Everyone and their mothers had tag clouds, hell they had tag cloud t-shirts.

But at some point they became passe, like the big hair and high tops of the 80’s the love for them seems to have faded. XFEP doesn’t make use of tags, and neither does bloggingtips which I write for as well. Yes, I still have a tag cloud on my own site, and add a minimal amount of tags to my posts and photos, out of habit. But do I regularly use tags anymore to find content? No.

There is hope though. Engadget is one site that does tagging right. Not just relegated as an aside to a post or footnote, but as useful aids within the content. Words that relate too or are the name of a tag are made into links to that tags archive. It’s useful, it’s simple, and it’s relevant. This is where tags can make a comeback.

Do you use tags on your blog? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below.

Guest Author Bio: If you liked this post, please check out the writer, John Leschinski, someone who is both great at web design and a friend of mine. John Leschinski is a designer & consultant with almost a decade of experience, on the forefront of modern design, focused on creative opportunities and solutions for challenges facing businesses today.