Tag types

One thing that sets us apart from conventional tagging systems and library catalogues is the sheer number of tags we want to support per book. We strive to serve everyone, from the literary scholar who wants to find instances of a specific trope (even if it doesn’t play a large role in the book) to someone who wants to avoid a trigger (no matter how central to the story), and that means tagging things that don’t seem important at first glance, too. A huge, undifferentiated list will easily be more confusing than helpful, so we’re structuring our tags in two ways: relevance levels and types.

Types serve two main functions: they allow for sorting and grouping, and they offer context for tags to help keep them short and simple. A tag type is something that adds information to the tag rather than the book. “Setting” by itself doesn’t really tell you anything about the book, but it does distinguish “Setting: Forest” from “Topic: Forest” - one story happens within one, the other is probably about ecology.

Many tags are ambiguous. “Diary” can be a narration style, but it can also describe a non-fictional diary or the object itself as a plot device. Or we might want to differentiate a pet wolf from other types of wolves, such as a wild wolf, a shapeshifter with a wolf form, a talking wolf, or a wolf that is a magical familiar, we would have a lot of different wolf tags. But with our tag types system, we can just add “Pet,” “Wild animal,” “Shapeshifter,” “Familiar,” or “Talking animal” as types and keep the tag itself short and simple. On a book you might then see “Pet: Wolf” or “Shapeshifter: Wolf”.

This type system has the added bonus of simplifying implications. Implications - set by our moderators - define relationships between tags. “Wolf,” in this example, implies “Canine,” “Canine” implies “Mammal,” “Mammal” implies “Animal,” and so forth; so you’d find stories featuring wolves with a more general search for mammals. If pet wolves and wild wolves were two different tags, we’d need to build the tag tree, by hand, for each of them. However, with tag types, this structure only needs to be built once for all of the previously mentioned wolf tags. When searching, you’ll be able to specify the type of the tag you’re looking for, so that if you want to find stories specifically featuring shapeshifting canines, you can.

Types that describe similar aspects of the story will be grouped together to create thematic blocks of tags, which are sorted by type within themselves. For example, “Genre: Fantasy” and “Genre: Coming of age” will be shown near each other, a story featuring heavy violence will keep the list all of the gruesomeness in a single section, and character descriptions will not mix with setting details. With “Protagonist” or “Main Character” types, details about them can be kept separate from minor characters, while still sharing a type group.

So far we have identified roughly 50 unique tag types, but, as with everything, it’s a work in progress and ready to evolve as we do. Keep on reading about to learn how we are differentiating central elements from minor events.