Tags on bugs in Launchpad

Friday, August 4th, 2006

The inevitable Web 2.0-ism has landed in Launchpad… TAGS. Congrats to Brad Bollenbach and Bjorn Tillenius on the landing. In this first cut, only the bug tracker supports them, but if you can suggest interesting other applications for tags in Launchpad I’m sure the guys on #launchpad would be keen to listen.

There’s a demo server with a full list of Python’s bugs from Sourceforge imported into a Launchpad instance, with tags, that you can check out for a taste of bug tagging goodness. That’s not the usual, production LP, it’s a demo setup we use to show new features or to import sample data.

Personally, I’m something of a sceptic. Tags are certainly a useful way to do short term organisation of things in a project, but they can’t compete with rigorous structure for ongoing management. Essentially, a wiki is FULL of tags, but organising things in wiki’s is fraught with challenges. We used to organise the feature planning for Ubuntu in the wiki, but it drove me nuts – to the point that I had to sit down and write the feature planning system in Launchpad. Folksonomies are powerful in the right places, but they are no magic bullet.
Still, I’m intrigued to see how projects use them. You can see how the LP team themselves are coordinating their tags-onomy – I like the idea of having agreed, and proposed, tags. Of course, you can tag anything with anything, but *some* structure or convention makes the whole endeavour much more useful.

Hmm… time to add that to the Malone Highlights doc I wrote up over the w/e.

4 Responses to “Tags on bugs in Launchpad”

  1. Simon Willison Says:

    I think tags are best used for situations where it doesn’t matter if things are miss-tagged – where you aren’t relying on everything relating to ‘foo’ getting the ‘foo’ tag. Services like del.icio.us and Flickr fit this perspective – they’re focused around browsing and discovery within an enormous corpus, where no one could hope to look at everything matching their specific term. del.icio.us is further helped by the fact that many different people are tagging the same thing, dramatically increasing the overall amount of metadata collected.

    LaunchPad’s tagging system will probably be useful in a different way: providing an alternative, more flexible way of creating arbitrary “slices” across the dataset. It should be interesting to see how it develops.

  2. Sitsofe Says:

    One of my ideas for tags is contained over here: https://launchpad.net/products/malone/+bug/37447

  3. -marc= Says:


    Just a side note:

    I’m reading somewhat of a common misconception in your posting about these ‘folksonomies’ in relation to their ancestor the ‘taxonomy’.

    To me the biggest difference between the two is that the former indicates some sort of ‘emancipation’ Doing away with a format were only one controlling influence or treasurer is allowed to exist. To me the one-taxonomy just got replaced by a multi-taxonomy. The sure way to not end up in utter chaos is not to remove but rather decentralize and share the management responsibilities. So more then a technical achievement, I think this is the advent of a brave social positioning about responsibility sharing, quite like the spirit of Ubuntu IMHO :-)

    More philosophical sidesteps on the subject:
    * the ‘test of independent invention’ form the axioms of web architecture’ over at http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/Principles.html
    * some personal associations posted a year ago: http://blogs.cocoondev.org/mpo/archives/003309.html

    kind regards,

  4. Gisela Giardino Says:

    Hey, Mark, I liked that witty use of suffixes here… -ism and -onomy. I like playing at the semantic sandbox. =)

    How would you pronounce web2.0ism (is it two point “o”, or two point “zero”?) Help appreciatted I am a spanish native speaker. About tagging -which can be called “taggism” too with no doubt for the strong belief on its attributes and frantic pratice- I agree with Simon above, tagging is fun, yet not reliable at serious level because each tagger (or “taggist” :-P ) uses its own criteria… have you ever seen a reliable information sistem which uses millions of different criterias to classify data… and work? Definitely, this chaotic taggism nowadays should become or make room for an ultimate proper tags-onomy. |-)

    Puns apart, I wanted to say Hi! to you. I´ve come to you for Esthr photos and a somebody pointed me to your blog´s biography. A kiss from Argentina, stay cool,

    The Alieness