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« Folksonomy: The Soylent Green of the 21st Century | Main | CAD company kickstarts folksonomy for product knowledge sharing »

February 1, 2005

Tags run amok!

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Posted by Clay Shirky

Back In The Day, when I was trying to explain what I meant when I was talking about social software, but before Coates pulled my fat out of the fire by doing the work for me, I had all these wicked abstruse definitions that made everyone’s eyes glaze over.

The only definition I ever found that created the lighbulb moment I was feeling was “Social software is stuff that gets spammed.” Not a perfect definition, but servicable in its way.

Comes now tag spam from user DaFox, as if to illustrate the principle — a single link, whose extended description is a variation on the form “Best site EVAR!” and who has tagged the site (for his or her own retrieval doubtless) with the following tags:
.imported .net 10placesofmycity 2005 3d academic accessibility activism advertising ai amazon amusing animation anime apache api app apple apps architecture art article articles astronomy audio backup bands bittorrent blog blogging blogs book bookmark books browser business c canada career china christian clothing cms code coding collaboration color comic comics community computer computers computing cooking cool creativity css culture daily database deals …

The list includes another couple hundred items — that must be some site, containing as it does not just the above listed items but info relevant to Ruby programming, New York City, typography, economics, and porn. DaFox is the Canter and Siegal for the social software generation.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: social software


1. Matt Haughey on February 1, 2005 3:19 PM writes...

You know what's funniest about any attempts at delicious spam?

Google doesn't touch the place.

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2. milk on February 1, 2005 4:09 PM writes...

hehehehe ;)

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3. Andrea on February 1, 2005 4:27 PM writes...

Heh, I was going to post about that too, screenshot and everything. It's quite the sight. I don't think he's trying to do some "search engine optimization" thing, though.

But his link will show up in virtually every inbox on (or at least anyone's who is subscribed to a tag) and most users will click on the link, if only to find out what the "best site EVAR" (and the sheer amount of tags) is all about. I know I did.

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4. John Beeler on February 1, 2005 4:30 PM writes...

I saw it too.

And then I set his username to ignore.

Ta da.

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5. Dare Obasanjo on February 1, 2005 4:31 PM writes...

Just a day after I was just talking about folksonomies, technorati tags, META tags, and spam. I hope my post at didn't inspire the spammer.

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6. Alex F. Bokov on February 11, 2005 3:30 AM writes...

Originally posted to and reposted here with some modifications because it applies to this thread as well.

1) As I think someone might have pointed out, it's not the same mistake all over again, it's an exciting new mistake because... with meta tags you could only tag your *own* content.

2) These tags are used not only by search engines but by humans. Who can adapt to bullshit faster and in a more granular manner than search engines. For instance, nobody but idiots now googles for words like viagra, cialis, sex, porn, etc. Those might as well have become stop words. Likewise, certain words will lose their currency in the hyposphere... or word combinations will be more reliable... or people will come up with some kind of peer rating system superimposed on what's out there already or in a new application. Don't underestimate the power of the idea market.

3) One form of spam that hasn't recieved much attention is username spam. Did you know, for instance, that until a few minutes ago the word "logon" was not already taken as a username? Nor was "serach". But along with the problem, I offer a distributed solution-- go out and register as many potentially abusable names as you can. Every account named "php" and "sex" you own (heh, heh, don't bother with those two now) is an account some spammer who will catch on to the meme a day later than you have will not be able to own. Sort of like those environmentalists who buy acres of rainforest to make sure it never gets developed. Let the pre-emptive defense of's namespace begin!

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The Fall of Technorati is so from GreatNexus Webmaster Blog
Since I started to tag less than a month ago, I have found this method of organization to be tremendously useful. I also love the utility of the Technorati Tags and Bookmarks — not to mention the traffic that these sites bring. How... [Read More]

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GreatNexus Webmaster Blog: The Fall of Technorati is so


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