Understanding Why Users Tag: A Survey of Tagging Motivation Literature and Results from an Empirical Study

Markus Strohmaier, Christian Körner, Roman Kern


While recent progress has been achieved in understanding the structure and dynamics of social tagging systems, we know little about the underlying user motivations for tagging, and how they influence resulting folksonomies and tags. This paper addresses three issues related to this question: 1.) What distinctions of user motivations are identied by previous research, and in what ways is user motivation amenable to quantitative analysis? 2.) To what extent does tagging motivation vary across dierent social tagging systems? and 3.) How does variability in user motivation in uence resulting tags and folksonomies? In this paper, we present measures to detect whether a tagger is primarily motivated by categorizing or describing resources, and apply these measures to datasets from seven dierent tagging systems. Our results show that a) users' motivation for tagging varies not only across, but also within tagging systems, and that b) tag agreement among users who are motivated by categorizing resources is signicantly lower than among users who are motivated by describing resources. Our ndings are relevant for 1) the development of tag-based user interfaces 2) the analysis of tag semantics and 3) the design of search algorithms for social tagging systems.

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Type of Paper: Research Paper
Keywords: social tagging systems, tagging motivation, user motivation, user goals
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