Emergence of consensus and shared vocabularies in collaborative tagging systems

Robu, Valentin, Halpin, Harry and Shepherd, Hana (2009) Emergence of consensus and shared vocabularies in collaborative tagging systems. ACM Transactions on the Web (TWEB), 3, (4), 1-34.


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This article uses data from the social bookmarking site del.icio.us to empirically examine the dynamics of collaborative tagging systems and to study how coherent categorization schemes emerge from unsupervised tagging by individual users. First, we study the formation of stable distributions in tagging systems, seen as an implicit form of “consensus” reached by the users of the system around the tags that best describe a resource. We show that final tag frequencies for most resources converge to power law distributions and we propose an empirical method to examine the dynamics of the convergence process, based on the Kullback-Leibler divergence measure. The convergence analysis is performed for both the most utilized tags at the top of tag distributions and the so-called long tail. Second, we study the information structures that emerge from collaborative tagging, namely tag correlation (or folksonomy) graphs. We show how community-based network techniques can be used to extract simple tag vocabularies from the tag correlation graphs by partitioning them into subsets of related tags. Furthermore, we also show, for a specialized domain, that shared vocabularies produced by collaborative tagging are richer than the vocabularies which can be extracted from large-scale query logs provided by a major search engine. Although the empirical analysis presented in this article is based on a set of tagging data obtained from del.icio.us, the methods developed are general, and the conclusions should be applicable across other websites that employ tagging.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 1559-1131
Related URLs:
Keywords: Collaborative tagging, community identification algorithms, complex systems, del.icio.us, emergent semantics, graphical models, knowledge extraction, power laws, search engines
Divisions : Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering > Electronics and Computer Science > Agents, Interactions & Complexity
ePrint ID: 268192
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
September 2009Published
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2009 17:32
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 14:16
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/268192

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