What? Tags are meant only for writers? Not for readers?
This article ignored the readers, so there is a scope to write something about tags for readers in Medium as well. Tags are equally applicable to reading and organising topics for reading and accessing contents within Medium. The orientation towards tags for readers is slightly different for readers compared with that for the writers. While the writers can decide on tags at the time of submission based on “how many articles” are already available within the tags, leaving the tags as open free text has some issues as well. In the sense, that as an author, I can choose any text as my tag and that gets recorded. It may or may not be fortuitous if another author writing on the same topic chooses to use the same set of tags. More often it is not (there is a near zero probability that two authors selecting two random tags that they choose on their but ending up being identical tags).
Why is this an issue for readers? A couple of reasons (you can add more if you like)
For one, random tags or tags that are kind of new terms coined by authors prevent discovery of stories. Works both ways. Readers too, can choose tags or type tag names to search for stories that they could write and tag them. At the same time, tags or searching by tags present an opportunity of a controlled vocabulary that Medium can offer its readers and writers. That said, it’d be a nice idea to have a set of tags as Medium’s sensing of the story and adding tags, and Medium, by now, create a thesaurus of sorts of tags.
Two, tags help readers to organise reading within Medium. Too often we hear complaints about Medium showing up too much “How to…” or “Productivity pitch” type of stories or listicles that many of us do not want to read or do not like to read here in Medium. Medium is a goldmine of stories and experiential literature, and I know that, yet in my daily feed that Medium decides for me, there is precious little of that surfacing. Medium’s own algorithm is broken as far as I can see for my own reading. But I can correct this using a combination of tags to follow the stories and pitches that I want to read. For this to happen without friction, we need a system of tags in stories that are presented at the time of submission or curation. Tags that should make the lives of readers easier.