Tag Clouds: Past, Present and Future

  • Shah Khusro
  • Fouzia JabeenEmail author
  • Aisha Khan
Review Article


With the increase in popularity of collaborative tagging systems like and Flickr, the need for an effective method to visualize information in these systems has become paramount. A tag cloud being currently the most popular and user-friendly interface provides insight into the information space of a collaborative tagging system but has several inherent limitations, resulting in some serious challenges in effective retrieval of relevant content. This paper initially presents a survey of the ongoing research efforts in evolving tag clouds from first generation of static nature to dynamic and more interactive second-generation interfaces. It further elaborates on the analysis of tag cloud design issues. It concludes with a set of recommendations for the design of next-generation visual interfaces to collaborative tagging applications. This work will prove useful to researchers who aim to design interfaces for information retrieval in folksonomy-based applications which satisfy users’ need for least cognitive load.


Browsing Tag cloud Cognitive load Next-generation tag cloud 


  1. 1.
    Nielsen M (2007) Functionality in a second generation tag cloud. Master’s thesisGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rashmi S (2005) A cognitive analysis of tagging. Accessed 10 Aug 2018
  3. 3.
    Jason Morrison P (2008) Tagging and searching: search retrieval effectiveness of folksonomies on the World Wide Web. Inf Process Manag 44:1562–1579. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cho C, Yeh T, Cheng S, Chang C (2012) The searching effectiveness of social tagging in museum websites. Educ Technol Soc 15:126–136Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Marchionini G (1995) Information seeking in electronic environments. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Nobel PA, Shiffrin RM (2001) Retrieval processes in recognition and cued recall. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 27(27):384–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Manber U, Smith M, Gopal B (1997) Webglimpse: combining browsing and searching. In: Proceedings of USENIX technical conferenceGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gopal B, Klark P, Manber U (1995) Combining browsing and searching. Accessed 3 September 2013
  9. 9.
    Coupland D (1995) Microserfs novel. HarperCollins, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lee B, Riche N (2010) Sparkclouds: visualizing trends in tag clouds. Vis Comput Graph IEEE Trans 16:1182–1189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Choy S-O, Lui A (2006) Web information retrieval in collaborative tagging systems. In: Web intelligence. 2006, IEEE/WIC/ACM international conference, pp 352–355Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Wikipedia (2015) Tag cloud. Accessed 24 February 2015
  13. 13.
    Han K, Shih PC, Carroll JM (2014) Local News Chatter: augmenting community news by aggregating hyperlocal microblog content in a tag cloud. Int J Hum Comput Interact 30:1003–1014. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cidell J (2010) Content clouds as exploratory qualitative data analysis. Area 42:514–523. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Collins C, Viegas FB, Wattenberg M (2009) Parallel tag clouds to explore and analyze faceted text corpora. In: IEEE Symposium on Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST), pp 91–98Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wang J, Shih Y, Wu M (2011) Colorizing tags in tag cloud: a novel query-by-tag music search system. In: Proceedings of 19th ACM international conference on multimedia, pp 293–302Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sinclair J, Cardew-Hall M (2007) The folksonomy tag cloud: when is it useful? J Inf Sci 34:15–29. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Burch M, Lohmann S, Pompe D, Weiskopf D (2013) Prefix tag clouds. In: 2013 17th International conference on information visualization, pp 45–50.
  19. 19.
    Yamamoto D, Masuda T, Ohira S, Nagao K (2008) Collaborative video scene annotation based on tag cloud. In: Advances in multimedia information processing, Berlin, pp 397–406Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dilorenzo M (2008) Method and system of social networking through a cloud. US Patent Application 11/469,857, 6 Mar 2008Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Winkler TP (2011) Tag cloud buddy list for messaging contacts. US Patent Application 12/651,103, 30 June 2011Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hassan-Montero Y, Herrero-Solana V (2006) Improving tag-clouds as visual information retrieval interfaces. In: Proceedings of the international conference on multidisciplinary information science and technologiesGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Begelman G, Keller P, Smadja F (2006) Automated tag clustering: improving search and exploration in the tag space. In: Collaborative web tagging workshop at WWW2006, pp 15–33Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Christopher HB, Nancy M (2006) Improved annotation of the blogopshere via autotagging and hierarchical clustering. In: Proceedings of 15th international conference on World Wide Web, pp 625–632Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Candan KS, Di Caro L, Torino U (2008) Creating tag hierarchies for effective navigation in social media. In: Proceedings of 2008 ACM workshop on search in social media, pp 75–82Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    DotCMS taxonomies: organizing your content. Accessed 9 November 2017
  27. 27.
    Dubinko M, Kumar R, Magnani J (2006) Visualizing tags over time. In: WWW. ACM Press, New York, USA, p 193Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Russell T (2006) Cloudalicious: folksonomy over time. In: Joint conference on digital libraries 2006. JCDL’06. Proceedings of 6th ACM/IEEE-CS. IEEE, pp 364–364Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kuo B, Hentrich T (2007) Tag clouds for summarizing web search results. In: Proceedings of 16th international conference on World Wide Web. ACM. ACM Press, New York, USA, pp 1203–1204Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Knautz K, Soubusta S, Stock W (2010) Tag clusters as information retrieval interfaces. In: Proceedings of 43rd Hawaii international conference on system science. IEEE, pp 1–10Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ahlberg C, Shneiderman B (1994) Visual information seeking: tight coupling of dynamic query filters with starfield displays. In: Proceedings of SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems, pp 313–317Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Bielenberg K, Zacher M, Advisor T (2005) Groups in social software: utilizing tagging to integrate individual contexts. Master Thesis Dr. DissertationGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Jänicke S, Scheuermann G (2017) On the visualization of hierarchical relations and tree structures with TagSpheres. In: Computer vision, imaging and computer graphics theory and applications VISIGRAPP 2016. Communications in computer and information science, p 693Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kaser O, John S, Lemire D (2007) Tag-cloud drawing: algorithms for cloud visualization. In: Proceedings of tagging and metadata for social information organization (WWW 2007)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Shaw B (2005) Utilizing folksonomy: similarity metadata from the System CS6125 ProjectGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Westerman S, Cribbin T (2000) Mapping semantic information in virtual space: dimensions, variance and individual differences. Int J Hum Comput Stud 53:765–787. CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Blanchard III JA, Jennifer M (2010) Method and apparatus for customizing the display of multidimensional data. US Patent 7,752,534, 6 July 2010Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Lohmann S, Ziegler J, Tetzlaff L (2009) Comparison of tag cloud layouts: task-related performance and visual exploration. In: Proceedings of 12th IFIP TC 13 international conference on human–computer interaction. Part I, Springer, pp 392–404Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Wikipedia (2015) Accessed 24 February 2015
  40. 40.
    Bateman S, Gutwin C, Nacenta M (2008) Seeing things in the clouds: the effect of visual features on tag cloud selections. In: HT’08 Proceedings of 19th ACM conference on hypertext hypermedia, pp 193–202Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Gwizgka J (2009) What a difference a tag cloud makes: effects of tasks and cognitive abilities on search results interface use. Inf Res 14:2Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Rivadeneira A, Gruen D (2007) Getting our head in the clouds: toward evaluation studies of tagclouds. In: Proceedings of SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems, pp 995–998Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Skoutas D, Alrifai M (2011) Tag clouds revisited. In: Proceedings of 20th ACM international conference on information and knowledge management, p 221.
  44. 44.
    Zhang X, Heflin J (2011) Using tag clouds to quickly discover patterns in linked data sets. In: COLDGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Zhang X, Song D, Priya S et al (2014) Exploring linked data with contextual tag clouds. Web Semant Sci Serv Agents World Wide Web 24:33–39. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Venetis P, Koutrika G, Garcia-Molina H (2011) On the selection of tags for tag clouds. In: Proceedings of 4th ACM international conference on web search and data mining—WSDM’11. ACM Press, New York, USA, p 835Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Nizam N, Watters C, Gruzd A (2012) A comparative study of navigation using single vs. community driven tag clouds on websites. Proc Am Soc Inf Sci Technol 49:1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Cutts M (2010) Avoid tag clouds to prevent keyword stuffing. Accessed 9 November 2017

Copyright information

© The National Academy of Sciences, India 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of PeshawarPeshawarPakistan

Personalised recommendations