Tagging is broken

July 17, 2012 — by @karrisaarinen

I hate tags. Entering tags is manual work, and if you automate it, you end up with many more tags than you actually need or want. Describing the content shouldn’t be the user’s job, it’s the job of a search engine.

However, this is still the de-facto way of how most bookmarking sites work. After all these years, you still save a page, enter tags manually or click the recommended, and then try to find with your tags. Some tags only have one item in them. Sounds like a broken system.

You might counter this by developing your own system of sanely using tags, but again I think it’s shouldn’t be the user’s job to figure out the right system. Think about searching for things from Google just with tags. Might be amazing, but many times you wouldn’t know the right tag to search for. It’s a hit or miss game.

While these taxonomies might be great for scientists and librarians, but they’re rarely optimal for others. I’m not interested in the idiosyncrasies of certain piece of information, but in the way how do I use it.

With Kippt we wanted to take the approach of making the user’s life really easy. So we focused on 1) making search useful 2) lists

In Kippt, when you save a page, we grab the content of that page and feed it to our search engine. Then whenever you want to find something, you can just search for it. It doesn’t take any user effort, and searching from a relative small set of links is not that hard.


As opposed to tags, lists can used for real context or purpose, not necessarily categorizing. You can create list for your development team, there can be a purpose like collecting best landing pages or you want tell a story with it. The links don’t need to be categorized, since the context already tells why the link is there.

With tags, all things are just these pincushions, pinned full with keywords floating in the endless sea of information. You can hook things together from this pins, but you never know why the things are there in the first place.

With lists you’re communicating a meaning, not cataloging information.


In Twitter, which pretty much popularized hashtags, the tags are used for channeling or grouping tweets. The tag has a purpose, like #sandiegofire, but it’s not used for describing the content.

Which Kippt we felt the same way. If we allow tags, they should have a purpose not just describing what is there. In our case, we think the purpose is to channel or filter your own links and hopefully in the future, also other people’s links.

People kept asking for tags, so we listened. In our implementation you can just add #hashtags to your clip notes, and they’re magically turned into links to search.

FAKEGRIMLOCK do not eat us!

We also implemented hashtags support for new imports: if you import your existing bookmarks, we’ll convert them into Kippt compatible hashtags. If you have previously imported links, you can just delete the import list and re-import them.

Tags are worthless, when there is no purpose. Go to Kippt ›

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