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Popularity over Relevance in Collaborative Tagging Systems for General Resource Discovery

Macgregor, George and McCulloch, Emma (2005) Popularity over Relevance in Collaborative Tagging Systems for General Resource Discovery. Discussion paper. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Although services offering collaborative tagging provide rich interactive experiences that exemplify a sense of community among disparate user groups, their raison d'être ultimately remains similar to traditional information retrieval systems. In this paper we will explore potential conflict between user requirements for PIM and CIM, and the theme of popularity over relevance by revisiting basic information retrieval principles within the context of collaborative tagging. The long-term implications of these factors for the efficacy of collaborative tagging in general resource discovery will also be examined. The theoretical analysis presented suggests that PIM requirements conflict with the wider requirements of resource discovery by invoking a series of extra relevance variables and that emphasis on popularly used tags and the subsequent effect on ‘collective behavior’ potentially compromises the effectiveness of system performance. Hypotheses are proposed for testing and further research areas are suggested.