Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Label Update

At various times in the past month or so, I have been adding labels to old posts to make searching for particular topics easier. Yes, I should have been labeling posts all along, but I did not, except for a brief phase in 2007 when I inexplicably added rather strange labels to some posts.

In an earlier post, some of you gave me advice on how to choose labels, and on what some useful labels would be, and this advice was very useful during my latest labeling efforts.

When I started my retroactive labeling, I had to confront the issue of how fine to divide related categories: e.g., Should there be separate categories for 'grants' and 'grant proposals' or just one combined category? I went with a combined category, but created a separate 'broader impacts' label (I don't know why; I just did).

And what about the various stages involved in publishing: writing, submitting a manuscript, reading and responding to reviews (and doing some reviews of other manuscripts), interacting with an editor, and so on. Is that one category, two, more..? I broke that one up a bit.

I don't think I have done the best job with career-related labels (yet). For example, some posts labeled 'tenure' actually involve a range of early-career issues, and I didn't deal very well with all the various stages of getting a job. At the moment, there is a 'CV' label and an 'interview' label.

And what about women-in-science, women, feminism/feminists, sexism etc.? Not all posts about women are about sexism, not all posts about women are about women scientists, and so on. That was a tricky one, and I ended up with multiple labels for that one because I thought the nuances were more important than they are for, say, grants and grant proposals.

And then are some posts for which obvious labels eluded me. I ended up using one category called 'bizarre', and another just called 'life'. Some don't really fit either (like this one).

There is a rather lame category called 'academia', which could be applied to most of my posts but that I (somewhat inconsistently) used for posts that had something to do with the academic life and that collectively give a picture of (my) academic experiences.

A particularly tricky issue was what to do with the 'cat' label. Cats are mentioned in passing in quite a few posts, but that doesn't mean that the posts are about cats (although, on some level, they are). Would someone searching for cat-themed posts be crushed if they found instead a post that used a brief and sarcastic mention of cats? I wanted to avoid that, but not entirely.

When I told a colleague about my labeling efforts, he remarked, in a sarcastic-but-not-unkind way, "I bet the titles of your posts are a lot of help."

Yeah, well.. no kidding. Maybe I should title things in such a way that the content of the post is a bit more obvious, like the title of this post, or yesterday's. Boooooring, but efficient.

Anyway, the labels with links now appear in the frame on the right, below the archive, and I've added a better search function (Google search box below my profile). If anyone finds strange or inappropriate labels or obvious missing ones or has suggestions for ways to make this better and more useful and is inclined to share this information/opinion, please send an e-mail or leave a comment. At the moment, I have label fatigue, but at some point I could revisit the labels.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure you are great at whatever field you are in, but you would never make it as a taxonomist. Too many categories!

I spent a lot of time browsing through your old posts yesterday. They were fun to read, but I ended up seriously neglecting my class prep. So I have very mixed feelings about these tags....

Anonymous said...

Tags aren't a taxonomy, with every article fitting in exactly one category. Tags form an ontology, providing grouping of related posts in multiple different ways.

Anonymous said...

I've always loved your tongue-in-cheek post names, so please don't change those!

I find myself labeling posts in fits and spurts--it's very hard to remember to do when writing the original post. And I totally agree that it's hard to pick the optimum number/names for categories. I can't imagine doing it for 3+ years of daily posts!