Sorry folks, I just don't feel like blogging right now. Rest assured, I'll be back after I've refreshed myself. Enjoy the archives. -Adam

What do you think about “tag clouds”?

Earlier today Zeldman compared the abundance of weighted tag lists to fads like “fanny packs, [and] mullets”. Since I don’t see anyone else opening the subject up for comments, I will.

While I agree that the recent popularity lends a bit towards faddishness, I think tag clouds (more broadly, info clouds) are a very useful way of presenting lots of information (and some information about that information) in a condensed, yet readable, format. Even he admits “tag clouds are not dumb”.

I’ve seen a bunch of people add some brief quips about Zeldman’s comments to their link blogs and del.icio.us, most a short statement of agreement. My question is, if so many agree, why are they so popular?

On several of my sites (including here) I use weighted lists of information (not just tags) to prioritize content. Am I just a trend whore?

Andy said: “I'm convinced there are better ways of displaying top tags than this”.

If tag clouds (ignoring info clouds for the rest of this post) are a poor way of displaying this type of information then what is a better alternative?

Wists, a tag based system for visual bookmark management, displays tags in a more traditional manner of classification by using “tag groups” or “meta-tags”. This is a very cool concept (the classification of classification) and I’m interested to see it evolve. However, I don’t think the format of display is necessarily an alternative to tag clouds since there is no indication of popularity or importance. Nevertheless, this is surely a different means of displaying, or at least organizing, lots of tags.

So what do you think…?