Tagging and searching: Search retrieval effectiveness of folksonomies on the World Wide Web

. Inf. Process. Manage. 44 (4): 1562--1579 (2008)


Many Web sites have begun allowing users to submit items to a collection and tag them with keywords. The folksonomies built from these tags are an interesting topic that has seen little empirical research. This study compared the search information retrieval (IR) performance of folksonomies from social bookmarking Web sites against search engines and subject directories. Thirty-four participants created 103 queries for various information needs. Results from each IR system were collected and participants judged relevance. Folksonomy search results overlapped with those from the other systems, and documents found by both search engines and folksonomies were significantly more likely to be judged relevant than those returned by any single IR system type. The search engines in the study had the highest precision and recall, but the folksonomies fared surprisingly well. Del.icio.us was statistically indistinguishable from the directories in many cases. Overall the directories were more precise than the folksonomies but they had similar recall scores. Better query handling may enhance folksonomy IR performance further. The folksonomies studied were promising, and may be able to improve Web search performance.


Tagging and searching

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