Why We Tag: Motivations for Annotation in Mobile and Online Media
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Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, page 971--980. New York, NY, USA, ACM, (2007)

Why do people tag? Users have mostly avoided annotating media such as photos -- both in desktop and mobile environments -- despite the many potential uses for annotations, including recall and retrieval. We investigate the incentives for annotation in Flickr, a popular web-based photo-sharing system, and ZoneTag, a cameraphone photo capture and annotation tool that uploads images to Flickr. In Flickr, annotation (as textual tags) serves both personal and social purposes, increasing incentives for tagging and resulting in a relatively high number of annotations. ZoneTag, in turn, makes it easier to tag cameraphone photos that are uploaded to Flickr by allowing annotation and suggesting relevant tags immediately after capture. A qualitative study of ZoneTag/Flickr users exposed various tagging patterns and emerging motivations for photo annotation. We offer a taxonomy of motivations for annotation in this system along two dimensions (sociality and function), and explore the various factors that people consider when tagging their photos. Our findings suggest implications for the design of digital photo organization and sharing applications, as well as other applications that incorporate user-based annotation.
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