Dan Gillmor of Grassroots Media just launched HonorTags – basically another way to tag posts to describe the context of an author. (via Joi Ito)

Supposedly HonorTags will help readers find relevant/trustworthy content and increase control over how creators are identified. All you have to do is link to the HonorTags page using one of the many HonorTags, for example:

<a href=”” rel=”tag”>HonorTagJournalist</a>

Seems to me like this is just a ploy to build some easy links. Technorati already offers tag aggregation using the same syntax and the HonorTags adds nothing new. Why would I need or want to use the HonorTags system?

Seriously, what is the point here?

I can tag this post HonorTagSpammer or HonorTagJournalism or any made up tag but how does that help you? Does tagging my content with HonorTags somehow make me more trustworthy or more accurate? I don’t think so and I don’t think you do either. Its up to you to decide what you consider is trustworthy and professional – some useless tag is not going to persuade you otherwise.

When did tags start replacing action-based credibility?

I recommend reading what Danny Sullivan had to say about tagging – he explains that while tags are useful in some situations, they have some very serious limitations.

Maybe I don’t get the idea behind HonorTags, so if anyone does – please leave me a comment.

5 thoughts on “UselessTags

  1. You’re right, this does look pretty limited. And will probably be surpassed by a more useful and popular system in the future.

  2. My suspicion is they are building this bottom up. The tags that are described are for self-description with regard to individual posts by their author. How the reputation system is built on that is not clear, though I wouldn’t be surprised to find that they have their eye on the Yahoo! Web 2.0 scheme.

  3. I get the idea – pledges and Honortags are an attempt to exercise a measure of control over the blogoshpere solely to raise the profile of the blog proposing them. In a nutshell, it’s elitism mixed in a particularly dodgy way with self-promotion.

  4. I think the idea is to avoid the arguments that you see sometimes where one blog does something that others consider unethical and everyone gets on their case; for instance, if someone accepts money to endorse products and run favorable reviews of them on their blog without disclosing the money they got.

    On the other end of the spectrum, though, some people think of bloggers as journalists, and so they expect people not to lie or to say things for money etc.

    The journalist bloggers in particular have a problem, because they want their readers to regard them as journalists, but the readers might look at what other “bad” bloggers are doing and assume that the journalist bloggers will do the same.

    The key is to realize that there’s no need to assume that all bloggers have the same goals or the same ethical code. Some people see their webpage as their space to do whatever they please, including getting paid to make up stuff. Others see themselves as journalists, and adhere to standard journalists codes of ethics.

    So, instead of making the reader guess which type they’re dealing with, it would be better for everyone if people would self-identify. This especially benefits the journalist bloggers, who can stop people from confusing their blogs with random opinionated web pages.

    I go into more detail here:

    (that was written before I heard about honor tags; I guess we independently thought of the same solution to the problem)

    Now, I do agree that the honor tags don’t go into as much detail as they need to; right now they’re so vague that they don’t say much. Maybe each tag should come with examples of what the tag is pledging the author will not do (like taking money in exchange for spinning a story, in the case of the journalist tag).

    But it’s a large step in the right direction.

  5. Pingback: TechCrunch » Profile: Honor Tags

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