Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ASIS&T 2008 - Social Tagging in China and the USA: A comparative study

Chen Xu of the Long Island University and Heting Chu of the Long Island University

USA usage of tagging 28% of on-line Americans have tagged on the internet.

The study used two web sites to compare tagging, both the action of tagging and the interface used to tag, in US and China. del.icio.us and 365Key were the two sites studied. 365Key is the first, and most popular, tagging site in China. Study was done in January 2008. The study gathered site visits and extracted the tags from the News category. They specifically narrowed the study to tags used more than 10 times.

The sites are similar in functionality, although 365Key adds two fields: Comments and Evaluation. Evaluation gives the ability to "star" a URL. 365Key also adds two metrics: viewing frequency and bookmarking frequency. In terms of tag management, Delicious gives users more freedom to create tags, ability to bundle tags and to rename or delete. Tag bundle allows you to create a second level in your tagging, creating a hierarchy. 365Key offers predefined categories, meaning their tags tend to cluster around the predefined categories.

Users in Del.icio.us create 5 tags per record, while 365Key create about 3 tags per record. This means that Del.icio.us will have more unique tags, with less consensus. When we look at the tag frequency distribution of the two sites, they are very similar. When we look at the parts of speech of the tags, they are mostly nouns in both sites. 365Key showed more foreign terms for tags, specifically English. This is seen as an indication of English as the "world language". Del.icio.us have more term variants, and more "net words".

When looking at tags with the same meaning, we see that there are a number of terms that appear in both sites, but the ranking of the terms is significantly different. This is seen as showing the different issues of importance amongst the different user populations. When looking at the top tags in each site, we see cultural differences.

The main difference between the two sites is in the functionality. 365Key is more restrained, with defined categories. Del.icio.us offers more freedom to the users. This difference in functionality is reflected in the tags. Interestingly, there were more tags applied in 365Key than in Del.icio.us. This is attributed to the time period when they gathered the data, it was not an active time in the US. There is strong clustering around the predefined terms in 365Key.

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