Introducing Group Discussion Forums

Viewing the group homepageAs part of our firm commitment to the social networking benefits of online bookmarking, we have introduced discussion forums to Zigtag groups.

Groups make it easy to network and share with other users who have similar interests. They are useful as a collaborative tool (e.g. for sharing sites with coworkers related to a particular project) or as a way to meet new people.

With the new forum features, we have improved upon the bookmark sharing aspect of groups by making it possible to discuss topics with other group members. As an example, imagine that you are taking a vacation with friends to a different country. You can create a group dedicated to this trip, and add related pages as you find them (hotel sites, city information, tourist hot spots, and so on). You can then start discussions with your friends about the different things you would like to do, where to stay, etc. Zigtag groups are your one stop shop for any sort of event planning.

More on how to share bookmarks to groups and other group features coming soon on the blog!

Replying to a group forum message

Zigtag Plugin – Introduction

Zigtag has an extensive sidebar add-on for Firefox that is always ready for you to quickly save the pages you find interesting.

The Zigtag sidebar has four different tabs – “Tag page,” “Explore,” “Share” and “Links.”

The “Tag page” tab is the default tab, and allows you to add tags to a page and quickly see the tags that have been applied to a page.

Entering a Tag

To add a tag, put the cursor in the “Enter tag here” box, and start typing. Hit enter to apply the tag to the page. The new tag will show up just below that box.

When you enter a tag, Zigtag will try to match a defined tag to what you have entered in the type-ahead. For example, typing “appl” will generate “Apple,” “Applause,” and “AppleTalk,” which both start with “appl.” Arrowing-down or mousing-over these tags will bring up a longer tag definition so you can see which defined tag you want to use, for example “Apple (the fruit).” Select a tag by clicking it with the mouse, or by hitting “Enter.” The tag will show up below the “Enter tag” box (see above image).

If you mouse-over a tag that has been applied, a definition will pop-up to the right, just like when you searched for it in the type-ahead.

Note: You can enter any tag you want and it will be applied, it just won’t have a Zigtag definition associated with it. Tags with a definition will show up in bold, whereas tags without will show up in plain text, and mousing over them will show “no definition.”

Other “Tag page” Features

Zigtag allows you to mark a page as a favourite, or as a page you’d rather not see again, by choosing the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” icon on the sidebar. Marking a page as “thumbs up” will alert other users that this is a good page, and it will also float to the top of your results when searching for a particular tag. Choosing “thumbs down” will indicate to other users that it is not a good page, and will push it down in your results. You do not have to tag a page to add a rating – you’d probably not want to tag a page if you think it’s a poor quality page.

Located below the “thumbs” rating system is a group of suggested tags that you can apply quickly to a page. These suggested tags are obtained from a variety of sources, and clicking on them will apply them to your current page. I’ll talk about suggested tags extensively in a future post.

Finally, at the bottom of the page is a news feed panel. It will notify you when:

* Someone confirms or requests your friendship.
* One of your friends tags a page.
* One of your friends creates a group.
* A page is added to a group you belong to.

This news feed is a great way to see new pages that your friends have found interesting – so keep the sidebar open while you surf the web to see what is going on in your Zigtag community!

RSS Feeds

We’ve been getting a lot of requests for a pretty basic feature – RSS feeds.  Well, the good news is that Zigtag is already fully RSS-compliant!

To get the RSS feed of a single user, the link is:
http://www.zigtag.com/rss/<username>

Note that if you subscribe to your own feed, this will only show public bookmarks (see a later post on Zigtag’s extensive privacy settings).  A later feature may be to offer a secure, authenticated RSS feed which will also show anonymous and private bookmarks.  Is this something you as a user would like?

Here are some other useful RSS feeds:

http://www.zigtag.com/rss/tag/apple/4042691 shows the bookmarks tagged with just a specific defined tag, here the tag defined as “Apple Inc.”

http://www.zigtag.com/rss/tag/scott/Apple/4042691 would show you all the things tagged with “Apple Inc.” by “scott”.

http://www.zigtag.com/rss/recent will show you a feed of everything that has been added to Zigtag recently, sorted by popularity.  It is the same list that is on http://www.zigtag.com/tag/

The only RSS feed that is currently referenced on the website is a specific user’s feed on their profile page, but in the next release we will expose the rest on the website, when exploring a certain tag intersection.

Zigtag’s social features

Zigtag has a lot of social features in it, turning your tagging into a social habit. Some of the social features include:

  • The ability to add friends
  • The ability to add special interest groups
  • The ability to send a bookmark to your friends quickly
  • Discussions on all the major objects in Zigtag (i.e. discussions on a group, tag or URL – coming soon).
  • News feed

Zigtag’s newsfeed is really where all the social features come together. It keeps you up to date on what is happening with Zigtag by showing you what you’re friends have bookmarked, new groups that have been created, people that have accepted your friend request, and bookmarks that have been added to groups. This is a place where you can go and see cool new sites that your friends have found, and it’s quite addictive.

What other things would you like to see in your news feed?

Zigtag groups are a great new approach to collaborative research and learning that allows any group of people to share resources and discuss the group through a forum.  A group can be private, membership only (i.e. anyone can view the group, but can’t add to it) or public. You can create a group for your team at work, for a specific project you’re working on, for your club or your class at school, or browse the Zigtag groups to find a group with interests similar to your own.

Defined Tags – Zigtag makes tags semantic Part 2 of 2

There’s another really important aspect of using defined semantic tags – the fact that there is only one definition for a certain idea.  Let me explain this a bit.  Say you find a page on New York City, and you tag it with “New York”. Months later, you go looking for it again – but can’t remember if you tagged it with New York, NY, NYC, or even the Big Apple.  No problem!  With Zigtag, all of these synonyms mean the exact same thing – the idea of New York City.  Zigtag understands that New York and NYC are semantically equivalent. Therefore, you can actually search for that page you tagged “New York”, by any of the synonyms for it.

Above is a screen shot of Zigtag’s “Explore” dialog, where you can retrieve things you’ve tagged.  On the left is the tag you’re searching by, in this case NYC.  On the right are the results.  Notice that the results were actually tagged with “New York”, not NYC, yet Zigtag found them.

This is extremely powerful, and Zigtag is the only bookmarking solution to solve this problem.

It becomes even more powerful when used as a research tool.  On other sites like del.icio.us, if you were looking for restaurants in New York, you would have to search for sites tagged with NY, NYC, New-york, newyork, new_york, etc. and even then you’d probably not find all the things people are tagging about this.  With Zigtag, you’re searching with the idea of “New york”, and everybody understands that idea.

Semantic tagging is also very useful from a personal tagging standpoint.  After all, when you tag, you tag with ideas, not words.  This allows you to tag a page with “Car”, but retrieve it by search for “Automobile”, or tag it with “API”, and search for “application programming interface”. It means you don’t have to remember the exact word you tagged it with – just the idea you think of when you tag it.

So try out Zigtag, and be sure to tag semantically!  If you are already using it, or import your bookmarks from another service, we offer a tag renaming tool so you can convert your normal tags into semantic tags (an article on this is coming soon).

Defined Tags – Zigtag makes tags semantic Part 1 of 2

What makes Zigtag unique among the many bookmarking solutions available?  It’s our defined tags – that is, tags that have meaning.  Here’s an example:

Dropdown showing the many definitions of \

This is a screen shot of the Zigtag sidebar.  Here, we’re browsing a page about Apple Inc., and we want to tag the page with “Apple”.  But which Apple do we mean?  There are quite a few to choose from – the company, the fruit, the music album called “Apple”, or “Apple records”, to name a few.  Mousing over any of these choices provides a description of that tag so that you can make an informed decision of which one to choose.

Now you may think “well I will only ever tag with one tag called ‘Apple’, because I’m never going to tag something about the fruit”.  I must admit that when I started tagging, I never thought I’d have this problem, but it’s amazing how often you come across it.  For example, being a programmer and a guitar player, I often tag things with “Tabs” to refer to a tabbed interface, and “Tabs” to refer to a guitar tablature.  Being a science nut, I often tag things about neurology with “Memory”, and things about RAM with “Memory”.  In my own tag space, I’ve got about 20 examples where Zigtag’s defined tags help me clean up my tag space beautifully.

If you’re still not convinced, consider this: what if you’re using a bookmarking application for research, and looking at other people’s tags?  How do you know the intended definition of a particular tag? As an example, head to http://del.icio.us/tag/tabs.  It’s a big cluster of two different types of “tabs” – guitar tabs and UI tabs.

Zigtag has over 2 million defined tags in the system, and that number is growing every day.  You can even submit new defined tags here (eventually this will be a community process of adding defined tags – right now this goes into a queue and we’ll approve them eventually).

There’s lots more to know about defined tags, coming in the next couple days.  Stay tuned.

Welcome to Zigtag!

Welcome to the Zigtag blog! I’ll try to post a new post every couple days, detailing new features, features we’ve had for a while, stuff that’s going on with the company, and general keep-you-up-to-date posts.

As a first post, I guess it’s good to get it out of the way – what is Zigtag?

Zigtag is a new semantic social bookmarking application (wow what a mouthful!). If you’re familiar with delicious, it’s similar to that but a whole lot more user friendly, and a lot more features, the most important part being semantic tags. Semantic tags mean that each tag has a meaning – e.g. there is only one New York City, but you can reference the idea of New York City in a lot of different ways (New York, NY, NYC, Big Apple, etc.) Similarly, if you want to tag a page about Apple, which Apple do you mean? Apple Inc, or the fruit? With Zigtag, we make it easy to handle these thorny problems.

Zigtag is also a sort of social network in that there are the standard social networking aspects to it – friends, groups, a news feed, sharing links, etc. However, unlike other tools, collaborating and organizing links become a whole lot easier if everybody is annotating their tags with ideas, instead of words. It doesn’t matter that Sally tags with NY, and Greg tags with NYC, they both mean the same New York.

We’ll follow this up with a few articles in the next few days – but for now, try it out! Sign up for our beta at http://www.zigtag.com and we’ll get you an account.