Outstreched arm

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Google/Blogger labels vs. Flickr tags

I was very pleased to see the new Blogger Beta, integrated with Google Accounts and adding some new capabilities. The features aren't killer and they won't convert anyone from Wordpress or Movable Type, but I was happy because it showed that Google wasn't burying Blogger (an impression I'd gotten from its complete stagnation for more than a year).

One feature any self-respecting web service of 2006 should have is tags, and Blogger now has them in the form of "labels", previously seen in Gmail, Google Reader, Google Bookmarks, and others - well, kind of. There are differences between Flickr's approach and Google's. Here's a quick overview. Keep in mind that Google's labels are still implemented inconsistently and spottily.

  • Flickr tags are completely ad hoc; they can be added to existing items with the fewest clicks possible.

  • Google's labels are, for the most part, defined ahead of time, then applied to items. The new Blogger labels can be created on the fly, however.

  • Flickr tags can be created by other users, not just the author. There is no such functionality with Google labels for now.

  • When entering more than one tag on Flickr, you can space-separate them; for instance, type in cat animal pet to add those three tags. Multi-word tags are quote-enclosed; for instance, cat "mister paws" pet, though it appears that the better way to do it is to just runthewordstogether since this happens to quoted multi-word tags anyway.

  • In Blogger, you comma-separate tags. This allows you to enter mac, apple ipod, but it confused me at first so I ended up with giant single tags like apple mac ipod tech nerd software. Personally, i prefer the ease of entering of Flickr tags.

Overall, Flickr has a better, simpler, more thoroughly implemented tagging system. Google's just getting started, though; once their labels - and, personally, I also prefer the term "tag" - are used across their services in some interchangeable way, I foresee good things.

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