Boolean Tag Searching and Tag Redundancy March 15, 2010 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Pony/suggestion: What about being able to browse posts by multiple tags, but with OR as opposed to merely AND. This would mostly be to combat tag redundancy, but could also be useful in general.

The thread about favorite-tagging reminded me of this.

Say I'm looking for posts about games. There are tags like "game," "games," and "gaming." But I can't view all of the posts tagged "game OR games OR gaming." Only "game AND games AND gaming," so I need to first browse by one, then the other, etc.

So, in conclusion, being able to browse posts by tag using combinations of AND and OR would be nice. (NOT would be interesting too.)

I don't know how tough this would be to implement, but it would be cool, post-finding-wise.

Here's an alternative:

Avoid redundant tags by giving tag suggestions as you type the desired tag. (I've seen this on other forums.) So when I make a post, if I start to type "gam," I'd see "games" as a suggestion, but not "game," so I would just select "games" as the tag.

In this framework, people would have the ability to add tags that don't yet exist (and thus wouldn't be auto-suggested), but I imagine that nobody would create a "game" tag if there were already a "games" tag, which the system suggested. Ideally, people would try a few different ways of expressing a concept before creating a new tag to express it, in order to maintain a lack of redundancy.

This seems a bit messy, though, since it would involve deleting preexisting tags from the master tag list, and deciding which tags are actually redundant.

I think I prefer the first idea.

Anyway, thoughts?
posted by sentient to Feature Requests at 12:22 PM (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Better ways to work with our existing tags is something we'd like to have, is on the list, and is a good idea. Changing the default combination from AND to OR is unlikely to happen, but support for OR would be cool [and NOT, I agree]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:28 PM on March 15, 2010

searching AND pony NOT yours
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:35 PM on March 15, 2010

So, in conclusion, being able to browse posts by tag using combinations of AND and OR would be nice.

... yes, and also with parentheses or something similar, because "game AND (pc OR mac)" is quite different from "(game AND pc) OR mac".

I wonder if doing something about redundant and similar tags would be better handled in the search function than by messing with the tag data itself? Like a checkbox that says "include similar tags" and that turns each tag x into an implicit (x or x1 or x2 or x3) where x1, etc., are pluralized forms of x and synonyms for x.

I think I prefer the first idea.

They don't actually seem to be mutually exclusive, though.
posted by FishBike at 1:01 PM on March 15, 2010

searching AND pony NOT yours

Hey, she said it's on the list.

default AND and NOT or

Ah, makes sense. Sounds good to me.
posted by sentient at 1:07 PM on March 15, 2010

Ooh, this might be fun to build on my own.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:23 PM on March 15, 2010

True about the mutual exclusivity; I guess they both have potential utility beyond dealing with redundancy. (Second seems like a pain in the ass though...)

Parentheses would be convenient. Or we could use some kind of Reverse Polish Notation for boolean operators type thing :)

Though, would NOT default to AND NOT, or would NOT just be a modifier that requires an AND or OR to the left of it (if it's not modifying the first term)?
posted by sentient at 1:38 PM on March 15, 2010

We need a SORTA-LIKE-THAT-ONE-THINGY operator. And a NOT.
posted by Babblesort at 1:46 PM on March 15, 2010

Yeah, this is in general another one of the line items on our long-term Make Search More Awesome intentions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:50 PM on March 15, 2010

I think all we really need is NAND, the heck with all this AND, OR, NOT comeplexity.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:08 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I would like the search feature to eventually incorporate all MSBASIC commands.

mostly because i want to see what 'WEND' will do
posted by shakespeherian at 2:39 PM on March 15, 2010

I have wanted NOT functionality for a long time. Eg, "games NOT computer NOT video" etc. Yes please.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:01 PM on March 15, 2010

shakespeherian: "i want to see what 'WEND' will do"

obviously it would ell. whatever elling is.
posted by idiopath at 11:04 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

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