An Overview Of Tag Cloud Visualizations Computer Science Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Tag clouds have become very popular visualization and searching interface. They have many advantages depend on the user goal. On the other hand, tag clouds have disadvantages. This paper describes the tag clouds visualization. In addition, it lists the advantages and disadvantages of tag clouds visualization and it shows the type of tasks that are appropriate for these tags.


Tag Clouds, Social media, Advantages, disadvantages, visualization, Folksonomy.


The recent popularity of tag clouds has become from the idea of social media tagging also known as folksonomies. Folksonomy is defined as a classification system, came from practice and methods of creating and managing tags to explain and categorized content. According to Mathes (2004), tag cloud have become very popular because of they use as web base visualization of the keywords or tags. These tags, visualize the frequency of most common words used, then they doubles as an index for accessing any content categorized by each tag. Hassan-Montero and Herrero-Solana (2006) define tag clouds as “a list of the most popular tags, usually displayed in alphabetical order, and visually weighted by font size”. In other words, it's a collection of words of different sizes and colours all are gathered in a cloud or a group. A tag that is larger and has darker colour is more popular than a tag that is smaller and has a lighter colour. This property is based on either the volume of information that is related to the tag or based on the popularity of this tag.

Factors that Affect the Usability of Tag Clouds

These days, there are many tools that can be used to generate tag clouds. The effectiveness and usability of these tools to generate sufficient tags depend on different factors:

1. Font Size: The font size has a great affect on the user who is trying to look for a tag. According to Rivadeneira et al.(2007), tags that ordered in frequency have the best effect on the user.

2. Alphabetization: arranging tags in alphabetic order help the user to find the tags faster. Many users prefer to scan for tags rather than checking the font size or the colour. (Halvey & Keane, 2007).

3. Some Certain visual features: Such as colour, font weight and size influence how fast we can find a tag. Tags the do not have these features will affect the usability of any tag (Bateman, Gutwin, & Nacenta, 2008) .

Advantages of Tag Clouds Visualizations

According to Miller (1996), the concept of using keywords that is not assigned by an expert is not new. Many journals use author generated keywords to do indexing. Also the use of key words was a very old feature of World Wide Web “WWW”. In tag clouds, on the other hand, users are who create the tags instead of the authors. This is because users want server their need. As a result, a consensus vocabulary emerges. Another advantage of tag clouds is that they visible to other users. If any user has the same interest of any tagged user, he / she can access the same resource. This means people can help each other by using tag clouds. Another advantage using tag clouds is they are very simple and straightforward. Tags do not need an expert to use it; users can tag the words that they are looking for to find what they desired. Moreover, Tags are multidimensional. Taggers can choose a large number of tags to explain a concept then combine them. Another important advantage according to Hayman & Lothian (2007), tagging provide gives very useful information for organizations. These informations can be related to area of interest, the need of the communities and people habit. Another business advantages have been identified by Clay Shirky (2005) and these are as follow:

* Market Logic:

As we get used to the lack of physical constraints, as we internalize the fact that there is no shelf and there is no disk, we're moving towards market logic, where you deal with individual motivation, but group value. As Schachter says of, "Each individual categorization scheme is worth less than a professional categorization scheme. But there are many, many more of them." If you find a way to make it valuable to individuals to tag their stuff, you'll generate a lot more data about any given object than if you pay a professional to tag it once and only once. And if you can find any way to create value from combining myriad amateur classifications over time, they will come to be more valuable than professional categorization schemes, particularly with regards to robustness and cost of creation.

· User and Time are Core Distribute.

* Signal Loss from Expression:

The signal loss in traditional categorization schemes comes from compressing things into a restricted number of categories

* The Filtering is Done Post Hoc:

the idea that the categorization is done after things are tagged is incredibly foreign to cataloguers.

* Merged from URLs, Not Categories:

This allows for partial, incomplete, or probabilistic merges that are better fits to uncertain environments than rigid classification schemes

* Merges are Probabilistic, not binary:

Merges create partial overlap between tags, rather than defining tags as synonyms.

In social media perspective, there many advantages using tags clouds visualizations and these are:

* The classification system is generated by the community:

as we state before, the users are classifying the tags.

* The classification systems develop:

* Community trends can be monitored:

what people are tagging can be tracked over time

* Improved brand loyalty:

as users who feel they are involved with a brand tend to be loyal to them

* Non linear browsing and improved searching:

instead for regular browsing and searching, users can enjoy searching using the visualization. In addition, it will not require any skill to do the searching.

Disadvantages of Tag Clouds Visualizations

We have discussed the benefits of both tagging and tag clouds but let's take a look at some of the disadvantages:

Firstly, the simplicity of tagging and the ease of use will lead to very poor tags. According to Hayman & Lothian (2007), it could be argued that this is an important feature of tags but the issue need to be considered for future investigation. Secondly, tags can be applied in different ways with the same meaning. In other words, cats may be used in one case and kitty in the other one. Thirdly, nearly all tagging systems do not have regular indexing or cataloguing rules. To explain it more, tagging system does not apply rules such singular or plural forms. Another disadvantage is many users tend to use the popular tags rather the accurate one. They may not realise that there are more accurate terms to use instead of these tags. In 2005, Zeldman states that” Network effects being exponential, what is immediately mildly popular quickly becomes artificially very popular, while what has yet to become popular never will be”. According to Sinclair and Cardew-Hall in their article “The Folksonomy Tag Cloud: When is it useful?” published in 2007, tag clouds were less useful when searching for specific information. They also noted that answering questions using tag clouds require more queries per interface. They said that is preferable to use a search box for answering questions.

Another disadvantage is tag cloud occlusion. Tag clouds do not allow any direct access to all articles in any database. When any tags query result is shown, it shows the co-occurring tags as showing in Fig.2. By clicking in any of the tags, it will present an article. Any article that had no tags in the front tag cloud it will not be displayed. They also prove that tag clouds are not sufficient because their inability to make all articles accessible. They also prove that the percentage of occlusion remained roughly constant at about 55.5% for each session. Fig.3.

Type of Tasks that are Appropriate for Tag Clouds