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Five years in the making and finally complete!
November 19, 2009 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Thank you backtaggers!

Thanks to a nudge from mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey and a lot of metadata specialists and friends we finished backtagging all 12,496 MetaTalk posts last night at 12:15 EST (with a few stragglers afterwards). MeFi and AskMe have been done already. This means that every post on MetaFilter that can have tags, has them. Thanks everyone for a job well done.

A few more notes about tags, for people who may be curious.

- mutual contacts can add tags to each other's posts, feel free to add tags that you think might be useful (but please refrain from editorializing in tags if you can help it)
- until we get some sort of a power search going, tags are one of the best ways to pre-search for double posts on the blue
- more backtagging MeTa posts/discussion here
- If you want to know who our librarians are on MeFi [a group whose membership overlaps but does not ecompass the whole of the backtagging team] you can install this greasemonkey script. If you are a librarian and not marked as my contact, please let me know.

It was really gratifying to see this semi-stagnant project get the push that it needed from a dedicated team of volunteers. I really appreciate everyone's willingness to step-up and help out.
posted by jessamyn to MetaFilter-Related at 8:54 AM (59 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I feel whole again.
posted by Meta Filter at 8:58 AM on November 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


Hey, look! The stars are going ou
posted by Iridic at 9:10 AM on November 19, 2009 [22 favorites]


I tried a little MeTa tagging, and found it to be very difficult. Thanks a bunch to those who slogged through.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:15 AM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, MeTa tagging was difficult, I only did a couple. However, I am, ahem, still a BACK TAGGING SUPERSTAR!
posted by marxchivist at 9:18 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


And now, the purging.
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I feel whole again.
posted by Meta Filter


Yet you still have that odd gap in the middle there.
posted by gman at 9:24 AM on November 19, 2009


Let's hear it for nudging!

wink wink, nudge nudge, say n'more
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:25 AM on November 19, 2009


Back Tag
posted by JeffK at 9:28 AM on November 19, 2009


The only thing we need to make this a perfect day is a little "Jingle Rock Bell".
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:38 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


What is the stars going out a reference to again? I want to reread that story
posted by jefficator at 9:45 AM on November 19, 2009


That is excellent news! Three cheers for backtaggers (esp for MeTa which was such a pain to tag)!
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:47 AM on November 19, 2009


Dang, I got my info from cortex, but with my new job (not) starting, I haven't had a chance to help. Sorry. =(
posted by Eideteker at 9:47 AM on November 19, 2009


Jefficator: here ya go.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:48 AM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thank you :-)
posted by jefficator at 9:49 AM on November 19, 2009


*sigh* I missed the original nudge from Crash (That keeps happening to me) - I would have been happy to help again had I but known.

So, that's it? New posts can't be posted without tags, correct?
posted by anastasiav at 9:53 AM on November 19, 2009


So happy this is done. Great work, everybody.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:56 AM on November 19, 2009


New posts can't be posted without tags, correct?

Pretty sure that's right. There are some oddball loopholes

- people can make a post with tags and then remove the tags
- if a post gets deleted and revived, someone needs to re-add tags because tags are removed when things are deleted
- a few tags are "special" like resolved [actually maybe ONLY like resolved] and can be added but not removed
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:59 AM on November 19, 2009


Because of these efforts to go back and retroactively tag all previous posts, we've been able to do some neat content-related analysis with the Infodump, which would have been utterly impossible otherwise.

Thanks, Backtaggers!
posted by FishBike at 10:10 AM on November 19, 2009


You guys are awesome! Now you've finished I don't need to feel guilty about not helping. Thanks!
posted by nowonmai at 10:13 AM on November 19, 2009


Hooray for mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey! And everyone else, of course.
posted by tizzie at 10:24 AM on November 19, 2009


Aww, I'd been touching in every once in a while, but you guys must've really put your backs into it this past month. Last I saw I think it was less than half-way done. Hooray!

Also, speaking of stars going out, I note that profile-wise mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey does not appear to be a back tagging superstar. Is that profile flag not being flipped for this round?
posted by mumkin at 10:24 AM on November 19, 2009


jefficator: that's Arthur C Clarke's "The Nine Billion Names Of God" I believe.
posted by hippybear at 10:31 AM on November 19, 2009


Tag 'em and bag 'em, cherries. We're movin' out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:31 AM on November 19, 2009


OOH! I installed greasemonkey just for that and guess what? I have this neat little what, favicon or something next to my username! Coolio!
posted by Lynsey at 10:32 AM on November 19, 2009


Oh, and, you're welcome, Jessamyn. That was *some* project and I kind of lost my ability to do it for long stretches of time when this school year started up but I was proud to help out.
posted by Lynsey at 10:33 AM on November 19, 2009


I'd been trickling out about 10-20 updates a day out and noticed that someone was going like a bat out of hell: somebody cranked 1,000 out in four days -- one week ago there were 2,127 left to do.

How the hell does anybody accurately title/tag that many items? I suppose after a while patterns were emerging for me that made life easier and its mostly a lot of "pony", "shoutout", "callout", but still...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:52 AM on November 19, 2009


I dropped the ball early, and I dropped it HARD. Thanks to the superstars who finished what I barely started.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2009


I read the post as "Thank you teabaggers!"

I briefly thought that we were playing Bizarro MetaFilter.

This am beginning of Host Seen #1's comment. Hello!
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2009


They smile in your face
All the time they want to take your place
The backtaggers...

posted by Joe Beese at 11:55 AM on November 19, 2009


Thanks a lot. It was a modest goal of mine to make it through life without once getting backtagged.
posted by found missing at 11:56 AM on November 19, 2009


So, us backstabbers get no love?
posted by qvantamon at 11:57 AM on November 19, 2009


Awesome work, backtaggers! People like you are what makes MeFi Mefi.

Note: not an insult.
posted by dg at 12:21 PM on November 19, 2009


So, us backstabbers get no love?
Yeah and what about us backsliders and backchatters?
posted by dg at 12:22 PM on November 19, 2009


Thank you all. I really appreciate it.
posted by kalessin at 12:27 PM on November 19, 2009


I was doing this, but got occupied elsewhere. Yay for backtaggers!
posted by Pronoiac at 12:27 PM on November 19, 2009


I like to think of myself as a backhander.

Mostly because of the presumed power and authority asserted by my bitch-slap.

Unfortunately, I clearly don't fully understand this skill yet, because when I tried to practice my technique on my dog who is, in fact, a bitch, all I got was bit.

Hard.
posted by quin at 12:53 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well done everyone! I think I did 3 posts in total and NOW I FEEL LIKE A HERO.
posted by Jofus at 1:10 PM on November 19, 2009


I wanted to help when the most recent call went out, but the timing sucked. I can get a note from my doctor.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:15 PM on November 19, 2009


I signed up to be a backtagger a couple of weeks ago, then I got sick and was buried and have therefore backtagged exactly zero posts. But my user page still touts me as a backtagging superstar.

This will thrill me and overwhelm me with guilt in turns.
posted by 8dot3 at 1:28 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: This will thrill me and overwhelm me with guilt in turns.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


i didn't help out because i would have had the urge to insert 'kittens' on every post.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 2:21 PM on November 19, 2009


Yay, it's over! My librarianly conscience can be at peace. There were some real gems in there, though. Back in the day, many MeTa posts had very few comments. Some, none at all.

It was also fun to see pre-moderatorified cortex and jessamyn talk about stuff like just normal folk, and marvel at how many times mathowie suggested it might be time to just shut the whole thing down.
posted by donnagirl at 2:55 PM on November 19, 2009


So I just finished this greasemonkey script that automatically calls up every FPP in sequence, parses it for nouns against a database, compares those to the existing tag set, then spits out two bits of text for cut-n-pasting: a list of the nouns that match existing tags, and a list of the nouns that don't. Do you think this will help the eff--oh, uh, nevermind then.
posted by davejay at 3:45 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, that's impressive! well done!
posted by evening at 3:54 PM on November 19, 2009


I didn't do many, and I didn't help with the last push like I had planned to, but I still feel like I accomplished something.

I like that.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:10 PM on November 19, 2009


I was a backtagging superstar! But now I'm not, because I somehow wasn't aware we were backtagging MeTa. Boo me, and yay MeTa backtaggers! Thanks!
posted by trip and a half at 4:12 PM on November 19, 2009


" I note that profile-wise mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey does not appear to be a back tagging superstar."

Those who can, do. Those who can't, nudge.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:20 PM on November 19, 2009


Just in time to start the "We aren't showing tags!" experiment!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:44 PM on November 19, 2009


Please stop using the word "superstar," or I'll be up half the damn night listening to Murray Head and Ian Gillan again. Congrats to all you backtaggers, but I'm really bummed to have missed out on this because it's just the sort of mind-numbing repetitive drudge work that makes English majors all tingly. For reals.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:00 PM on November 19, 2009


Thanks to everyone to participated.
posted by terrapin at 6:15 AM on November 20, 2009


I thought this post said "thank you, Teabaggers!"
posted by KokuRyu at 7:39 AM on November 20, 2009


Hey, look! The stars are going ou

Beauty.
posted by bz at 9:57 AM on November 20, 2009


Next project: Title tags for all html anchors.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:08 AM on November 20, 2009


next project is actually going to be something like cleaning the tag data [or something] so that people looking at the nyc tag can also get things tagged newyorkcity, dealing with plurals etc.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:28 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm happy to help with projects like that (relatively short time investment per item, hard to get bogged down); keep my name on your list of helpers if you're soliciting helpers again.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:11 PM on November 20, 2009


jessamyn: "next project is actually going to be something like cleaning the tag data [or something] so that people looking at the nyc tag can also get things tagged newyorkcity, dealing with plurals etc"

I think it would be great to have some sort of tag equivalence table built by another community effort. All tags that mean the same thing would get the same numeric identifier in this table. When you do a search, your search terms get looked up in this table and turn into a search for all terms with the same identifier. Basically you end up searching not just for the tags you entered, but all other tags that mean the same thing as well.

This way you don't change the tags that are applied to posts directly. That's good in case of disagreements about whether or not tags A and B mean the same thing, because the distinction isn't lost after an initial decision that they're the same. Whereas it is lost if all B's are changed to A's.

Similarly it's probably easier to keep this going once it's set up, because nobody has to go and look at the tags applied to new posts to make them consistent. It happens automatically once tag equivalencies are established. It's only when someone uses a new tag for the first time that it'll be necessary to match it up with existing tags that mean the same thing (if any).

Hmm... this comment is already much longer than I expected. My meta-point is that I think it'd be good to have a community brainstorming session about what to do, and then how exactly to do it, since it's not at all obvious how to do it. For one thing, I'm not sure how my suggestion above would be able to deal with tags where the context matters--what if A and B sometimes mean the same thing, and sometimes they don't?

Whatever it is, it'll probably be a huge effort. I think there were something like 140,000 unique tags last time I looked. But it would be an extremely cool improvement to the tagging system if it could be done.
posted by FishBike at 7:41 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I signed up and told Cortex I couldn't start until Dec 10th. I'm sorry I wasn't able to help, but count me in for the next project.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:58 PM on November 20, 2009


I just signed on to do some more back-tagging and I got only one post to tag. I thought for a moment that I somehow had managed to tag the very last post, but then I figured that I'd just picked up one of those oddball recent posts that somehow managed not to have any tags.

I'm glad that tag reconciliation is the next step because I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what everyone else had tagged things (e.g. the relatively common "this is my last MetaFilter post" has been variously tagged with "goodbye", "departure", "imleaving", and the three-tag combo of "im", "outta", "here"). I noticed a lot of discrepancy.

I'm not sure that "tag equivalence" is the way to go. There are probably lots of tags that mean different things in different circumstances. But it's still probably better than changing the tags, as the discrepancies will extend into the future as well.
posted by ErWenn at 6:27 PM on December 6, 2009


I looked through all the tags on the front page and spotted only a few where tag equivalence would cause problems due to multiple uses of the same tag (lost, eco, columbus, poe, fed, bell).

On the other hand, I noticed a lot of other things that needed to be cleaned up with the tags. The most common being when someone types in a phrase as a single tag and it gets broken up into individual, mostly useless tags (see "im outta here" in my previous comment). This is most common with names. That's never going to go away, and as long I also noticed cases where people used underscores to replace spaces. The underscores could probably be automated away. I can't think of a reason for them to be allowed in tags unless we're going to use nospaces as the standard. The broken up tags problem seems tougher. We could go back and fix the old ones (and we should), but that won't prevent the problem in the future.
posted by ErWenn at 6:54 PM on December 6, 2009


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