Hip Hop

Not Hip-Hop. That’s what I’m saying. Considering user behaviours in “tag space”, and noticing a pattern emerging in my favourite online music community, last.fm, that i know is problematic and a common usability criticism with “tagsonomy” driven interfaces, such as flickr and del.icio.us. Not that they are “soley driven” by this tag thing…

I love Hip Hop. And that’s the way i like to tag it. Hip Hop. No dash. Well apparently thats not the way most people think about it, at least in the lastfm community. Hip-Hop (WITH dash) is a much more popular (now #10 most popular tag with 22777 items tagged) than Hip Hop (NO dash and at #33 most popular with a mere 8544 items tagged) to use for (presumably) the same musical reference.

For some anally retentive, supremely geekly reason, this bothers me. I guess the thing is I would like to listen to a “Hip Hop” tag (cause lastfm is so cool you can do that) and know that it is representative of some all encompassing class of music according to this group, but what I would really be getting is only a small fraction of what I would want to hear.

Ever curious for more data, I search the hip hop groups on the site and was surprised to see a result of 258 matches for the term., meaning of course that my intital desire to hear all hip hip music on the site with one tag is even going to give me less of the over all picture if people are in any way using group names as tags. Ok , the search results are getting more than group names but of the 46 groups with “Hip Hop” in the title, 21 used a dash, and 24 did not. One used one word, HipHop.

So what’s my point? I suppose it is that tags need to be smarter. Or smart at all would even be good. From the interface perspective, I certainly do not want to manage all the subtlties of users personal tagging styles, but certainly if I am using tags as a navigational tool, I need to know they are workong FOR me and not against me. Its the same thing with plural cases of course. If I am sorting info by using the tag “Tool” it would be awesome if those items marked with “Tools” were also somehow related to my reference. One more footnote, I noticed that Google does NOT seem to care wether you use a dash in a search for Hip Hop or not. Same results. Hip Hop | Hip-Hop. This is something my collegue and I will be looking into shortly I believe.