Tips From Top Taggers

After a few months of storing bookmarks online with tools like, many people find the tags they’ve used to categorize them are a hopeless mess. So what are the best methods for getting your tag taxonomy in order?

According to CollaborativeRank’s most influential bookmarkers, the key is to tag sparingly and with focus, using words that are highly descriptive.

“My approach is that I try not to overlap tags which have the same meaning,” said John D’Agostino, No. 6 on a list of the 48,229 most prolific users and who is known as julan.

For example, D’Agostino said he often sees pages tagged with “web” and “development” that also have the tag “webdev,” which is superfluous.

Others advise settling on a core set of keywords that can be used long into the future. Changing the terms you use to describe information can splinter a bookmark collection and leave it disorganized.

New Yorker Chanchal Gupta, alias “notmuch” and top of the list of influential bookmarkers, said good tags include photographygadgetslinuxmacosxwebbookscognitionmindlife and writing.

Gupta said it is better to combine a lot of simple tags than to dream up complicated new ones.

“I try to have at least two tags for any post,” he said. “Having more tags for each post gives the ability to drill down, and this becomes very useful when you have used the system for a while and have accumulated quite a large number of posts.”

Gupta said it’s best to adopt good tagging habits early, because it’s hard to go back later and re-tag bookmarks.

“When I started almost a year back, I was using only two or three tags, and a lot of the time a single tag, but this started to become a problem once I needed to find that one special link,” he said. “Sorting through 100 posts because I used one or two common tags to describe them all eliminated the ability to narrow down to that precious one or few, and was not fun.”

Gupta said “reverse-thinking” helps when tagging pages — think of the tags others might later look for.

Also, picking keywords likely to be already used by other users will give your pages more visibility in the social bookmarking domain, and so more online influence — especially if you are the first to bookmark a link. After all, many people subscribe to the RSS feeds for common terms like “javascript.”

“Utilize the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) system,” D’Agostino added. “Don’t try and tag a bookmark with the first 20 tags that come to mind.”

For example, D’Agostino advised it is better to bookmark a link with tags like:

color scheme web design


color scheme web development design css rgb hex pantone webdev

“(It) allows you to focus on the main issue of the bookmark without going into too much detail,” he said.