Are tags valuable? Under used? Should we use them in the main search?

Stuart Wright

Well-known member
We have tags enabled on AVForums but using them for forum content discovery involves using the tag tab of advanced search. Not easy to find and very probably not used much at all.

Yet I think tags can be useful to find content. Especially if you use the ‘forum auto tag’ feature of my tag essentials addon to automatically suggest specific tags to all new threads in a specific forum. E.g. Panasonic and TV tags are auto suggested in the panasonic TVs forum. In this way, even though people don’t use those words in the thread title, the tags are added and are useful for finding those threads if searching with tags.

And remember that the ‘auto tag from title’ feature of tag essentials also auto suggests tags from the words in the thread title when creating threads.

So how about including tags in the default search?
Or for very focused search results, only search tags in the default search?
I think using tags to find similar threads is a no brainier.

What do you think about tag usage generally and maybe utilising tags in the default search?
 

arn

Well-known member
We have them on but we don't really encourage their use. Tags seem a throwback to a previous Web 2.0 era. Tag clouds and index pages seem of questionable SEO value, and I'm not sure there's a big advantage to them over regular search. Anything an auto-suggest could suggest will be super obvious keyword type stuff.

I agree that tags should be searched when you are doing a regular search. But I would think primarily use of tag discover would be just clicking on the tag itself to find other threads with the same tag.

I did see this add-on recently which enables #hashtags on a post-level. So presumably people could hashtag #oled and it would be found amongst other posts with the same hashtag. https://xenforo.com/community/resources/dbtech-dragonbyte-user-tagging.6527/

I didn't seriously consider using it, but it seemed a bit more on trend then thread-level tags.

arn
 

Rudy

Well-known member
What do you think about tag usage generally and maybe utilising tags in the default search?
One of the forums I manage is similar to yours, and to be honest, I wish members would be able to use the tags wisely since there are a lot of product names (both brands and models) that would be easier to search from tags than it would be to find them buried in what might be irrelevant forum posts. Same with music threads--there are names and titles that would be easier to search if they were tags vs. digging through search results produced from posts. We'll have a few search add-ons installed to help members search for phrases but even there, it's often not easy to educate everyone on the concept. They'd rather complain and say that our forum search sucks, rather than provide any helpful feedback.

We did try tags on vBulletin but with permissions having no finer control, we had a ton of abuse, with members tagging whatever they felt like. And even if we tried tags now, not everyone is going to catch on and use them, and I don't trust third-party add-ons to know about our unique content and what should, or should not, be tags.

I'll never use hashtags since that reeks of social media, and our members visit us to get away from it.
 

Stuart Wright

Well-known member
I try to use regex to blacklist tags of useless formats (like 5gb or 10mm) but there are so many other crap ones, it's unbelievable.
 

Rudy

Well-known member
I try to use regex to blacklist tags of useless formats (like 5gb or 10mm) but there are so many other crap ones, it's unbelievable.
The only way to manage tags for us would be for staff to create them ahead of time, and not allow an automated add-on or forum members to create them. But who has time? Tagging can be valuable but I think it would create too much work for our staff which is already spread too thin.
 

FloV

Well-known member
In my opinion tags are way underused. The single tag page could be a content hub for a lot of different content (threads, articles, polls, reviews,...) to one single topic. I still see so much potential to tags and i will definitly extend them in the future! :)
 

arn

Well-known member
In my opinion tags are way underused. The single tag page could be a content hub for a lot of different content (threads, articles, polls, reviews,...) to one single topic. I still see so much potential to tags and i will definitly extend them in the future! :)
Problem is users are not reliable enough to maintain those tags. People just arn't consistent with it, so you'd need manual efforts to properly tag articles. It's hard enough to get people to not write "Help" as a subject line.
 

Alpha1

Well-known member
If you want people to be consistent with tags, then you will need to create articles and guides on what is expected from community members. i.e. how they should tag what. And how they should not. Allow ranking members to tag anything and reward them for it.
 

arn

Well-known member
If you want people to be consistent with tags, then you will need to create articles and guides on what is expected from community members. i.e. how they should tag what. And how they should not. Allow ranking members to tag anything and reward them for it.

I'm sure with enough effort it's possible. You could also pay whose job it is to maintain the tags. Does anyone here use tags in an effective way? I know AVForums put a lot of effort into their tag system. I can't tell if it works for them or not.
 

Bob

Well-known member
Does anyone here use tags in an effective way?
I tend to say yes for my particular use case. Every single Implemented suggestion thread gets tagged with the Addon Version that the suggestion was implemented in. Same with Fixed bugs. When I post an addon release, I tag the announcement thread with the release version tag (and include the tag in the release email) which gives license holders a listing of all suggestions that got implemented in that specific release as well as all bug fixes for that specific release. It works really well for my use case (which I can appreciate is probably a bit niche for this discussion, but still effective nonetheless). Consistency/standardization is critical to the success of this tho (which is easy since its just me doing the version tags).
 

imno007

Well-known member
I think they're useful in a limited fashion. I also use Stuart Wright's Tags Essentials addon, which definitely improves on the default core implementation, with features such as being able to add default tags for nodes. The main problem with tags, at least for me, is that you can't limit them to specific tags for various nodes, can't require users to use only one or more of the tags you want them to choose from in certain forums. So they're all over the place, and are of limited use because anyone can choose to add any keywords, and they only help when they happen to match exactly with those used by others. So then you have prefixes, but by default you can only choose one per thread, so you have to use something like Xon's Multi Prefixes to make up for deficits there. I think Xenforo could really take a lesson from Flarum when it comes to tags - at least I think it's Flarum, if I'm remembering correctly. I believe they let you implement tags pretty much how XF let's you implement prefixes, but also with the additional features that Xon's addon gives to prefixes.
 
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Brad Padgett

Well-known member
I would love an add-on that would auto-generate tags but be smarter then anything we've seen thus far. Wouldn't just gather it from the title but would actually take data from the first post and then generate tags. Something like that would be a god send. I actually did see one add-on that looked promising but only gathered it from the title and might not be as useful though I haven't used it or tried it yet. I don't need it so bad I would pay custom but I would buy it at some point if someone decided to sell one.
 

Alpha1

Well-known member
I had something like that developed for vb. Tags would be added if these would meet complex conditions.

I do wonder about something: as soon as I switched from vbulletin (vbSEO + my own optimizations) to xenforo, the SEO value of tags went from amazing to worthless.
I was getting in a 800k monthly users from Google through vbulletin tags, because most content was tagged well. On XenForo it immediately dropped to negligible traffic for the very same content. And this was before Google decided that forum UGC was of low value. Have any big boards seen a similar drop when you moved your site(s) to XF?
 

Mouth

Well-known member
We have tags enabled on AVForums but using them for forum content discovery involves using the tag tab of advanced search. Not easy to find and very probably not used much at all.
So how about including tags in the default search?
Or for very focused search results, only search tags in the default search?
What do you think about tag usage generally and maybe utilising tags in the default search?
I didn't realise until recently that the "Search titles only" tickbox on Search functionality also includes searching tags!
 

Rudy

Well-known member
If you want people to be consistent with tags, then you will need to create articles and guides on what is expected from community members. i.e. how they should tag what. And how they should not. Allow ranking members to tag anything and reward them for it.
Ideally I'd wish for that to happen on my busiest forums. Yet we have two different issues with tagging:

  • Members, especially those who are older, either don't "get" the idea of tags or dislike the idea behind them (they are very resistant to change), so they will never use them. In addition, other members are low-effort posters and won't ever bother to tag a thread, either from (again) not understanding them or not wanting to expend the effort. No amount of documentation, tutoring or hand-holding will motivate them to use tags.

  • Members will tag anything and everything, just like those annoying Instagram posts where people include two dozen hashtags, most of them only barely relevant or catering to their narrow interests. And there is a small subset who will tag things just to be obnoxious or create problems. At least it's limited to the thread starter in XF--we tried tagging briefly in vBulletin and had so much abuse from members adding hateful or useless tags that we had to disable it.
For those reasons, we're not enabling or using tags. Great feature, but it would never get used properly by the majority of members, making it useless for everyone. I am in favor of letting members using pre-configured tags, though--that way they can add to an existing tab rather than creating multitudes of new ones that would take too many staff hours to clean up. And this would be only in limited forum areas where they would do some good.
 

briansol

Well-known member
I turned them off. Users kept throwing in useless terms and polluting it. With no real way to control it. Also, the chit chat forums polluted the real content quickly.

That said, i think there is power in the right way to use them, such as Stakoverflow's control where only certain user levels can create a new tag
 

Rudy

Well-known member
That said, i think there is power in the right way to use them, such as Stakoverflow's control where only certain user levels can create a new tag
Absolutely. We can do that with permissions if we wanted to--even if some members weren't staff, they could be entrusted to create valuable and helpful tags. But since our forum is over 18 years old now with almost 780,000 threads, the odds of tagging older content are rather against us right now. 😁
 

Stuart Wright

Well-known member
Not trying to make sales here, but the auto tagging of tag essentials is pretty good for making sure tags are added based on the keywords in the thread title. And the batch update threads with auto tagging works.
Also the tag blacklisting is useful, especially with regular expressions. I've used it to block tags like [any number]" e.g. 18" and plenty more.
But yes, still there are a lot of junk tags.
I guess the best way is to only allow forum curators or veteran members to create new tags.
 

Alpha1

Well-known member
IME you need members who are somewhat OCD and like to organize things. Those members are suited to tag content and even cleanup tags.
I've had functionality developed some time ago which allows specific member groups to moderate & prune tags from the front end. You can find it in @Xon 's Moderator Essentials. This allowed those members to go manually through tens of thousands of tags and delete all the BS tags. Another good feature in @Stuart Wright 's tag essentials the bulk deletion tool which allows you to remove all tags that have only been used once. Most of these are junk anyway.
 
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