SharePoint 2010 Marries Formal and Informal Taxonomies

By Alan Weintraub posted 11-03-2010 20:20


SharePoint 2010 had two new capabilities that can potentially increase the value of the documents being stored in the Document Libraries. 

Several months ago I wrote a Blog post titled:

Do Search and Tag Clouds Replace the Need for a Taxonomy

In that Blog I was focused on the value of a controlled vocabulary outweighing the random assignment of tags when trying to retrieve information.   I have been looking at the metadata service and ECM functionality that SharePoint 2010 provides.  Microsoft has tied to marry a controlled taxonomy with the flexibility of a folksonomy.   It’s an interesting compromise that attempts to take advantage of the specificity of a controlled taxonomy with the personalization of a folksonomy.   To bridge the two approaches, Microsoft provides the capability to nominate folksonomy terms to become part of the approved taxonomy.  This gives users a chance to develop the official taxonomy through experience with the content instead of trying to determine the best vocabulary terms often absent from direct experience in searching and retrieving specific information.   Organizations that implement SharePoint 2010 ECM functionality are often migrating their users from Shared Drives to SharePoint Document Libraries.  In this scenario, the only taxonomy that would exist is the folder structure that the user established to store the documents.    When working with users to define a new taxonomy, I have found that the users have a difficult time first understanding what taxonomy is and then determining the best taxonomy to apply to their documents.   The ability to define incrementally build the taxonomy as the users gain better knowledge on how they want to interact with their documents will result in an overall taxonomy/ folksonomy design that yields the greatest value to the organization.

Functionality in SharePoint 2010 that I find intriguing is the crowd sourcing capability associated with documents.   Microsoft added the ability to vote of the value of a document stored in a document library.  Users are able to rate the value of a document.  The individual ratings are compiled together to build an aggregate rating that increases value with the number of users that rate the document.    I am anxious to see how this function will be used over time and what reaction users will have when interacting with documents that have received a low rating.   Will they trust the information less and look to other documents for the information they need to make decisions?  Will they modify their search parameters to focus on documents or authors that have received high ratings?  It will key to see if users modify their behavior to only access information that they perceive to be of high value.

These two new capabilities, combined with the metadata service can potentially open up new ways for users to search and use information in making critical decisions.


#SharePoint #folksonomy #sharepoint #Taxonomy