What is it about?

Members of distributed groups need to share language to coordinate their actions. We studied the process by which a group developed a shared set of terms, i.e., a folksonomy (a user-generated classification scheme). We conceptualized the folksonomy as both an interpretive schema that guided the volunteers work and also a result of that work. We studied the process of folksonomy creation in a citizen science project called Gravity Spy in which volunteers come up with new terms for classes of glitches (noise events in the detector) and identified several processes by which individually-created terms come to be shared. However, we also noted that a lack of norms about and authority to impose use undermined the power of the folksonomy.

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Why is it important?

Our results help us understand the work of the volunteers in the project and have implications for system design. Systems need to facilitate 1) tag gardening, a process of consolidating overlapping terms; 2) demarcate a clear home for discourses around folksonomy disagreements; 3) highlight clearly when decisions have been reached; and 4) inform others about those decisions.


The paper was made possible by the work of the many volunteers engaged in the Gravity Spy project.

Kevin Crowston
Syracuse University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Folksonomies to Support Coordination and Coordination of Folksonomies, Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), May 2018, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s10606-018-9327-z.
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