The Language of Folksonomies: What Tags Reveal About User Classification

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Abstract

Folksonomies are classification schemes that emerge from the collective actions of users who tag resources with an unrestricted set of key terms. There has been a flurry of activity in this domain recently with a number of high profile web sites and search engines adopting the practice. They have sparked a great deal of excitement and debate in the popular and technical literature, accompanied by a number of analyses of the statistical properties of tagging behavior. However, none has addressed the deep nature of folksonomies. What is the nature of a tag? Where does it come from? How is it related to a resource? In this paper we present a study in which the linguistic properties of folksonomies reveal them to contain, on the one hand, tags that are similar to standard categories in taxonomies. But on the other hand, they contain additional tags to describe class properties. The implications of the findings for the relationship between folksonomy and ontology are discussed.