Tags suggestions for better usage and management. Canonical tags and synonyms

Stuart Wright

Well-known member
I didn’t use tags in vBulletin and don’t use Xentag, so tags are a foreign concept to AVForums users. Despite this, I am excited about using tags because of this post XF SEO Tweaks by @ForestForTrees which extolls the organised, comprehensive and apparently productive use of tags at Stack Exchange for SEO benefit.

For ideas, I’ve been looking through the tag related suggestion threads

https://xenforo.com/community/search/7158266/?q=tags&t=post&o=replies&g=1&c[date]=1435186800&c[title_only]=1&c[node]=18

and I’ve referred to some of them here as part of my overall suggestion which includes canonical tags and synonyms. I also wanted to promote discussion and get feedback.

Creating tags

Who creates the tags? Since forums grow through the value of the community and the useful content it produces, I think the membership should create tags.

However I think that members will need to be encouraged to create tags. I'm not sure about making at least one tag compulsory per new thread because members might type in trash just to get the thread posted.
To mitigate this, could we have a method of suggesting tags based on the contents of the thread title and first post? This suggestion is interesting: Use elastic search's significant terms aggregation for automatic/suggested thread tags

Certainly if pertinent tags are created by default then members are more likely to ‘take ownership’ of those tags, removing ones they don’t like and adding their own suggestions before they hit the final ‘Create Thread’ button.

When suggesting tags, is it worth considering weighting the suggested tags by the forum/media category/resource category they are being used in? It seems to me that If we’re suggesting tags for a new thread in a particular forum then the existing tags used in threads in that forum are likely to be more relevant.
I also think there is discussion to be had with regard to having an automated process running through all existing threads to create tags. Any tag related search which omits the two million tagless existing threads on AVForums is bound to be unsatisfactory.
Any such process would need to be clever and efficient, of course.

Canonical tags and synonyms

I think we should remove duplication by setting up synonyms for tags and automatically replacing the synonyms with a preferred (or ‘canonical’) one. I think this is important because it allows us to define exactly what the preferred tags are (which is good for clarity and SEO) and then ensure less dilution of tags and SEO by always using the canonical ones.

For example, if we had the canonical tag of ‘4K UHD (Ultra HD)’ then any synonym (e.g. 4K, UHD, Ultra HD, Ultra High Definition) would automatically get changed to the canonical ‘4K UHD (Ultra HD)’ tag.

Creating synonyms would be the moderators’ job and once a tag is set up to be a synonym of another tag, then that tag would effectively be replaced by the canonical version in all content. (If this causes duplication of tags then the duplicates are deleted).

Managing tags

Should moderators be responsible for managing tags? I’m thinking so, and if so we need a front-end method of managing them. They will need to be able to delete tags, change them, and set up canonical tags and their synonyms. I think we ought to discuss tag descriptions, also. Like a mini-wiki for each tag.

The moderators would need to be able to find similar tags as suggested here Find and merge similar thread tags so that they could delete or merge the ‘bad’ or synonym tags into the canonical one.

And seeing what tags are popular as per this suggestion Show tag popularity when selecting tags might help the moderators decide on what is the best canonical tag to use.

Reporting tags

I definitely think we need a way to report tags separately from the content they are associated with. Even with the censor and spam phrase filters being used on tags, there are going to be the spammy and inappropriate ones posted and we will want to deal with the creators of those tags. A suggestion here for reporting bad tags Report bad tags

Watch tags

I think the ability to watch tags would be an awesome feature Watch thread tags

They have a ‘subscribe’ facility over at Stack Exchange. In fact I think it would be useful to look at the tag functionality they have at Stack Exchange and cherry pick the best bits.
1.jpg

There are plenty of other good suggestions on what to do with the tag data, but I think what’s important at this stage is focussing on getting the tag data as relevant, focussed and useful as possible via suggestions, synonyms and good tag management with front-end moderator tools.
 
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Stuart Wright

Well-known member
Having used tags for some time with the Tag Essentials addon, I'd like to further expand on what improvements I think are necessary to the core tag functionality.

The manage tags page needs to 'remember' the last used choices for filter and sort order. It's incredibly infuriating to have to re-sort the list when I want to manage the most popular tags.

We definitely need the ability to block specific tags (not using wildcard by default). For example, on AVForums people are repeatedly adding tags like
  • 32gb
  • black
  • space gray
  • space grey
  • unlocked
  • unmarked
  • s3
  • 6 plus
  • two
I think tags which are adjectives are useless and we need to stop the use of them.
As are elements of product descriptions like 6 plus which always proceeds iPhone and when used together adjacently need to be automatically joined together as one tag.
And other extremely common words like two are utterly pointless as tags.
To a degree there is some education required, but people will always enter useless tags, and we need to block the common ones.

We also need to differentiate between the use of certain words.
For example, people generally use the word galaxy in reference to the Samsung products. But they could also be referring to the delicious chocolate or the gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas and dust, and dark matter.
How would we know which the tag is referring to?
So I would want the use of Samsung and Galaxy together in a thread be replaced with a single Samsung Galaxy tag.
And create variations for the other uses like Galaxy (chocolate) and Galaxy (astronomical phenomena) and not allow people to use the tag Galaxy.

This is, of course, assuming that people dive a damn about the tags. Which some people won't, of course, but honestly I think if they are to be useful, they need to be managed.
 

Alpha1

Well-known member
I like how StackExchange makes use of tags and tag synonyms:

As synonyms are used canonical these are much more effective in categorization. With xenforo we often end up with 5-6 different tags that are synonymous and each page holds a different content list. StackExchange its approach merges those into one. The difference is that those tags are effective forum nodes. A difference of day and night.

This tag page is basically a forum index:

This approach of using synonyms not only effective in terms of usability but is also a factor why StackExchange scores so well in terms of SEO.

XF is basically using using legacy tag functionality. Yet, more recently released forum software like Discource, Flarum, NodeBB, etc have implemented tags in ways comparable to StackExchange. In the mobile age its no longer useful to browse 5-6 different content lists for the same thing. Tags can be an effective way of mobile content discovery.
 

AzzidReign

Well-known member
I like how StackExchange makes use of tags and tag synonyms:

As synonyms are used canonical these are much more effective in categorization. With xenforo we often end up with 5-6 different tags that are synonymous and each page holds a different content list. StackExchange its approach merges those into one. The difference is that those tags are effective forum nodes. A difference of day and night.

This tag page is basically a forum index:

This approach of using synonyms not only effective in terms of usability but is also a factor why StackExchange scores so well in terms of SEO.

XF is basically using using legacy tag functionality. Yet, more recently released forum software like Discource, Flarum, NodeBB, etc have implemented tags in ways comparable to StackExchange. In the mobile age its no longer useful to browse 5-6 different content lists for the same thing. Tags can be an effective way of mobile content discovery.
First, thanks for linking me to this suggestion page. I love XF and I hope the XF team decides to move forward with updating the tagging system. It clearly is being used effectively on StackExchange. We have the basic framework here, why not improve upon that and show everyone that XF is the software to use?!

@Stuart Wright - I've looked into cleaning up my tags a few months ago and even used a tool here but in the end, we still have a ton of tags and people using them like hashtags (i.e. #xbox#winning#imawesome <-- yes, that's a single tag that only 1 person would end up using lol and we have TONS just like that one). I thought I remembered seeing you release something here that is pretty much what you are talking about so for anyone else checking out this page:

Looking forward to trying out your addon when we move to xf2.1. Have you noticed any changes in overall site traffic or landing pages since you've implemented these tag options on your site?
 
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