Creating A Unique Tag Your Project: for Blogs, Microblogs and other Distributed Web Content

Recently we’ve been recommending that more projects use a “unique tag” as their project identifier.  This is primarily because we are seeing more projects effectively use blogs, twitter, flickr, and several other distributed Web tools as their primary project tools (the JISCRI projects posted 500+ posts in six months)**.  Aside: Make sure to see a Previous IE team post on using Web 2 services to manage your project.  A unique tag enables the aggregation of all this unique content via search engines like Google who crawl the web and bring all the content back into one collection, if the tag is unique!

How do I create a “Unique Tag” – Step by Step

So you probablly know what a tag is but what is a “unique” tag? Below you’ll find a quick guide on how to create a unique tag, or at least a unique-ish tag:

  • (1) Come up with some ideas for a tag, usually people try and come up with a clever acronym based on their projects description.  Some requirements for a unique tag:
    • Your tag should be 6-12 characters in length and contain only letters (A-Z) and numbers (0-9), e.g. “fedorazon”
    • The tag should be a single “word”, no spaces should be in the tag.  Though you are welcome to compound words into a single word, e.g. “crm4uni”
    • No special characters should be included in the tag, i.e. no dashes (-), underscores (_), full stops / periods (.), commas (,) or any other character you’d have to press in combination with the “shift” key on your keyboard to create.  Just stick with single “word” combinations of A-Z and 0-9.
  • (2) Once you have some ideas for a tag, check your tag by going to Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines and typing it in.  If no more than a hundred or so pages come up with that combination of letters and numbers you most likely have a good unique-ish tag.  Please note:  To have zero hits back from a search engine is obviously a truly unique tag, though we recognise this is not easy to achieve.  Ideally you want a tag that is unique but also human readable, so make sure it is easy to say out loud, as in “My project is “Shuffl” spelled with two “F’s” just look it up on Google you’ll find it”.
  • (3) Make sure the world knows what your tag means. Provide a page on the web with a matching URL describing what the tag means, for example the IE team uses “INF11” as a tag for all the projects it is currently funding and the equivalent URL is: “”  Also, make sure your programme manager is aware of your tag. Why? – because JISC will look to archive your project and collect all the info about your project (including Web content, emails and reports).  A unique tag makes the initial archive collection process much easier for us (as well as you and other organisation like the UK Web Archiving Consortium and the Internet Archive).
  • (4) Once you have a tag, use it everywhere (see ideas below) – not only because it will make it easier to find stuff but because it will help increase your search engine optimation aka “GoogleJuice”.  Though for that to happen you must make sure to pass your tag out so people will click on it lots (perhaps get some business cards with the tag on it?)!
    • Use your tag on Web 2 Tools like: WordPress, Blogger, Flickr, Twitter (via hash symbol “#”, Technorati and (last but not least) delicious.
    • Use your tag with your code repository like: GoogleCode, GitHub, Sourceforge, etc.
    • Use your tag on word documents (2007/10) when you save the document there are boxes for both ‘author’ and ‘tags’ prior to clicking ‘save’
    • Use your tag in the subject heading of all emails to your programme manager, this is especially helpful so your programme manager can keep track of correspodance with the various project participants.
  • (5) ONCE YOU HAVE DECIDED ON A TAG DON’T CHANGE IT. This is essential as if you change your tag half way through your project then you will lose all the benefits stated above 🙁

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    • Q: When should I create a tag? / A: Ideally you should create a tag during bid writing stage (or even earlier if you are building on an idea <- never hurts to tag up an idea at a Eureka moment for your own notes).  Most importantly for a project you should make sure that everyone knows the tag and agrees that it is a single unique tag.  The team should be refering to the project via that tag prior to the bid being submitted and should not change once the bid is funded.
    • Q: Won’t this tag get lost as more tags are added to the internet? / A: Potentially yes, but ideally we will have archived your content into our archive before that happens so that the data will be a coherent collection that others will be able to use in the future.
    • Q: Why is a tag for every project important to JISC? / A: By all projects having a tag we are able to start doing more quantitative analysis of data, for example text mining on various collections of projects.  If we fund several technical projects we can text mine the data produced by those projects to get an idea of what technologies are being regularly used or what is cutting edge.  This helps inform us on what kind of training events we should be putting on or what new innovation spaces we should be exploring.
    • Q: When I tags then in twitter I use the hash or pound symbol (#) to tag tweets, do I always have to use the “#” symbol with my tag? / A: No you do not need to use the hash symbol for other tagging tools.  Though for twitter it is a good idea as it also enables you to set up a twitter archive (like Twapper Keeper) where you can then have your tweets saved beyond the two weeks that twitter keeps tweets!
    • Q: What if the online Web application I am using doesn’t have a tagging system, how can I tag content? / A: You can set up a delicious account which enables you to tag any page with a URL of it’s own.
    • Q: What if I am confused and don’t understand tags? / A: Contact your friendly neighborhood Programme Manager who is just a phone call or skype away 🙂
    • Q: What if my question is not addressed above? / Please post your question in the comments section and we’ll get back within a day or two to answer it, otherwise please don’t hesitate to email us.

    **JISC is also using tags internally to organise the projects into sets or themes of projects which we call “strands” and “programmes”.  For example we have sets of projects organised via strand like jiscRI, vreRI, jiscEXPO, jiscDEPO, jiscLMS, etc. and we organise those strands into programme tags such as “INF11”.  Each team in JISC will have a Programme of work, so tags are a good way for you to get an overview of JISC work as well.  These tags also help us do our job better by undertaking project support activities like programme evaluation, synthesis and benefits realisation work (as defined by our “Managing Successful Programmes” methodology).

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