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Title: Are tag clouds useful for navigation? A network-theoretic analysis

Authors: Denis Helic; Christoph Trattner; Markus Strohmaier; Keith Andrews

Addresses: Knowledge Management Institute, Graz University of Technology, Inffeldgasse 21a, 8010 Graz, Austria. ' Knowledge Management Institute; Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media, Graz University of Technology, Inffeldgasse 16c, A-8010 Graz, Austria. ' Knowledge Management Institute; Know-Center, Graz University of Technology, Inffeldgasse 21a, 8010 Graz, Austria. ' Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media, Graz University of Technology, Inffeldgasse 16c, 8010 Graz, Austria

Abstract: It is a widely held belief among designers of social tagging systems that tag clouds represent a useful tool for navigation. This is evident in the increasing number of tagging systems offering tag clouds, which hints towards an implicit assumption that tag clouds support efficient navigation. In this paper, we test this assumption from a network-theoretic perspective, and show that in many cases, it does not hold. We first model navigation in tagging systems and then simulate the navigation process in such a graph. We analyse the navigability of three tagging datasets with regard to different user interface restrictions imposed by tag clouds. Our results confirm that tag clouds have efficient navigation properties in theory, but they also show that popular user interface decisions, such as |pagination| significantly impair their navigability. Finally, we identify a number of avenues for further research and the design of novel tag cloud construction algorithms.

Keywords: social tagging systems; tag clouds; navigability; simulation; user interface; pagination; network theory; navigation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSCCPS.2011.043603

International Journal of Social Computing and Cyber-Physical Systems, 2011 Vol.1 No.1, pp.33 - 55

Available online: 28 Oct 2011 *

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