When tags work and when they don’t: Amazon and LibraryThing

Thingology (LibraryThing’s ideas blog):

Both LibraryThing and Amazon allow users to tag books. But with a tiny fraction of Amazon’s traffic, LibraryThing appears to have accumulated *ten times* as many book tags as Amazon–13 million tags on LibraryThing to about 1.3 million on Amazon. (See below for the method I used to find this out.)

Something is going on here–something with broad implications for tagging, classification and “Web 2.0” commerce. There are a couple of lessons, but the most important is this: Tagging works well when people tag “their” stuff, but it fails when they’re asked to do it to “someone else’s” stuff. You can’t get your customers to organize your products, unless you give them a very good incentive. We all make our beds, but nobody volunteers to fluff pillows at the local Sheraton.

via Peter Morville