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Benefit 4: Increasing Participation

In social tagging systems, adding tags is a low-risk form of participation that may lead people to higher-value contributions.

When the BBC redesigned its regional message boards in 2005, many users were intimidated by the idea of posting to an online forum. Moving from lurker to participant was a major leap. The BBC also discovered that people had difficulty finding relevant content on the message boards because the official topic of a conversation could differ significantly from the comments added by users.

So the BBC added tagging as part of a strategy to give people low-risk forms of participation (see Figure 1 and Figure 2). Tagging was also used to improve the findability of message board content and to make it easier for journalists to find emerging local stories by watching tags bubble up over time.

Figure 1

Figure 1 In one project, the BBC used tagging to lower barriers to participation.

Figure 2

Figure 2 The BBC message board, showing what people are talking about in Bristol.

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