Tag Archives: findability

Request for topic categories hierarchies

BMAI members,

I’m integrating a file-sharing capability into this site. For it and posts, I would like to implement a hierarchy of topical categories. A structured set of terms (taxonomy) will make it easier for us to categorize new content and find existing content. If you are aware of existing taxonomies we might borrow from, please provide links in comments to this post. I propose we start with a relatively high-level taxonomy of categories (limited to two or three levels) and use less-formal tags for highly-specific and infrequently used labels. If we need to amend or grow the taxonomy of categories later, we can easily do so.

If you were not aware, web content platforms like the one (WordPress) this site is built on use two methods for labeling and organizing content items.

The more formal method is a hierarchy of pre-determined categories. When creating posts or uploading files or media, authors select relevant categories from a list. A category hierarchy might include the following, for example:

  • biology
    • genetics
      • epigenetics
      • genetic engineering
      • inheritance
    • evolution
      • group selection
      • natural selection

The content author could choose any or all of the relevant categories but usually would select at least the lowest (most embedded) category from the hierarchy. Once content is associated with a category, it’s possible for search tools and grouped, sorted, and filtered views to improve the findability of topical content.

The informal method is tagging (also called folksonomy). Authors associate terms with their content in a more ad hoc way. Tags usually display under a web article’s title and in interactive tag clouds like the one on the right side of our site’s pages.

Some taxonomies we could consider:

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.