A comparative study of flickr tags and index terms in a general image collection

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Rorissa, Abebe
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Social tagging , Collaborative tagging , Image Indexing , User-centered Indexing , User-generated Tags , Index Terms
Web 2.0 and social/collaborative tagging have altered the traditional roles of indexer and user. Traditional indexing tools and systems assume the top-down approach to indexing in which a trained professional is responsible for assigning index terms to information sources with a potential user in mind. However, in today's Web, end users create, organize, index, and search for images and other information sources through social tagging and other collaborative activities. One of the impediments to user-centered indexing had been the cost of soliciting user-generated index terms or tags. Social tagging of images such as those on Flickr, an online photo management and sharing application, presents an opportunity that can be seized by designers of indexing tools and systems to bridge the semantic gap between indexer terms and user vocabularies. Empirical research on the differences and similarities between user-generated tags and index terms based on controlled vocabularies has the potential to inform future design of image indexing tools and systems. Toward this end, a random sample of Flickr images and the tags assigned to them were content analyzed and compared with another sample of index terms from a general image collection using established frameworks for image attributes and contents. The results show that there is a fundamental difference between the types of tags and types of index terms used. In light of this, implications for research into and design of user-centered image indexing tools and systems are discussed.