Characterizing User Tagging and Co-occurring Metadata in General and Specialized Metadata Collections

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Image analysis, Image enhancement, Imaging

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This study aims to identify the categorical characteristics and usage patterns of the most popular image tags in Flickr. The “metadata usage ratio” is introduced as a means of assessing the usage of a popular tag as metadata. We also compare how popular tags are used as image tags or metadata in the Flickr general collection and the Library of Congress's photostream (LCP), also in Flickr. The Flickr popular tags in the list overall are categorically stable, and the changes that do appear reflect Flickr users' evolving technology-driven cultural experience. The popular tags in Flickr had a high number of generic objects and specific locations-related tags and were rarely at the abstract level. Conversely, the popular tags in the LCP describe more in the specific objects and time categories. Flickr users copied the Library of Congress-supplied metadata that related to specific objects or events and standard bibliographic information (e.g., author, format, time references) as popular tags in the LCP. Those popular tags related to generic objects and events showed a high metadata usage ratio, while those related to specific locations and objects showed a low image metadata usage ratio. Popular tags in Flickr appeared less frequently as image metadata when describing specific objects than specific times and locations for historical images in Flickr LCP collections. Understanding how people contribute image tags or image metadata in Flickr helps determine what users need to describe and query images, and could help improve image browsing and retrieval.

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Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, v. 64, issue 9, p. 1878-1889