Selecting Metadata from a Drop-Down List – Good or Bad?
We got into a discussion the other day about using drop-down lists to get users to tag content correctly. Should the list be big enough to cover all tagging options, or short enough to reduce the users’ desire to just select a descriptor at the top of the list?
Unless there is a limited number of options, say three to seven tags, then the problem with a list is that it has to be long enough to provide a distinct separation of options. On the other hand, a long list it just isn’t practical. Less diligent users will typically select from the top of the list, or perhaps always the same tag – I work in engineering so all documents are tagged engineering, what’s wrong with that?
So, if an engineering user is seeking the latest project plan for a bridge, their search will retrieve all ‘engineering’ documents. And the never-ending cycle begins. The user will state that search doesn’t work, not realizing that it is partially their fault that content is inaccurately tagged, and they may potentially stop tagging documents unless forced to.
I suppose bad tagging is better than no tagging. What do you think? Have you faced this problem and solved it?