Sloppy Tags and Metacrap? Quality of User Contributed Tags in Collaborative Social Tagging Systems

6 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2010

See all articles by Hongwei (Harry) Zhu

Hongwei (Harry) Zhu

University of Massachusetts Lowell; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Old Dominion University

Harris Wu

Old Dominion University

Date Written: May 21, 2009


There have been an increasing number of social tagging systems on the web that allow users to contribute tags collaboratively to describe various resources. As the number of tags continue to grow, it is important that we can describe and measure their quality. There have been conflicting opinions about the quality of user-contributed tags but the issue has not been systematically studied. In this work-in-progress paper, we propose a preliminary methodology for assessing tag quality. The methodology identifies three aspects of tag quality in a social tagging system: individual tags, collections of tags, and the association of the tags with the corresponding resources. The proposed methodology is being empirically evaluated using the tags of several social tagging systems. In addition to validating and refining the tag quality assessment methodology, the empirical analysis is expected to provide new findings about various properties of the tags. These findings will be used to improve the design of tagging systems by incorporating mechanisms that induce the contribution of high quality tags.

Keywords: Information Quality, Tag Quality, Social Tagging System, Social Networks

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Zhu, Hongwei and Wu, Harris, Sloppy Tags and Metacrap? Quality of User Contributed Tags in Collaborative Social Tagging Systems (May 21, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Hongwei Zhu (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts Lowell ( email )

One University Avenue
Lowell, MA 01854
United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02139
United States


Old Dominion University ( email )

Norfolk, VA 23529
United States
757-683-5175 (Phone)


Harris Wu

Old Dominion University ( email )

Norfolk, VA 23529-0222
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics