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Taxonomy, Topics, and Tags: Welcome to the Merlin 'T' Party

tea.jpgIn case you haven't heard, the SPI team has been hard at work all summer to help the PBS system gear up to launch the new Merlin-powered PBS.org.  The team has already given stations a sneak peak into the world of Content Channels and Universal Login Accounts, but this week we'll be shedding more light on how content is organized for users within the Merlin database.

It's a little known fact that every wizard enjoys an occasional cup of hot tea.  When not advising their kings or casting spells in the direction of evil warlocks, a quiet cup of tea can really help wizards sort through all those complex thoughts that drift through their bearded heads all day.  In the spirit of Merlin (perhaps the greatest tea-drinking wizard of all time), the new PBS.org will feature its own three 'T's of sorting and browsing content: taxonomy, topics, and tags.

Taxonomy, topics, and tags are important parts of any information database as they allow users to more easily find, sort, and browse site content.  When new content and feeds are submitted to Merlin, they must be assigned to at least one taxonomy topic.  This allows the content to surface on the appropriate PBS.org topic pages and enables users to easily discover new information.

The top-level taxonomy categories within Merlin are:
  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Culture & Society
  • Health
  • Parents
  • Home & How-to
  • History
  • Science & Nature
  • News & Public Affairs
  • Technology
Stations will be able to assign their content and feeds to a maximum of three top-level topic categories, but no more than two top-level topics should be assigned in most cases.  Numerous sub-topics are also available for stations seeking to more precisely catalog content.  For a full list of topics and sub-topics, please refer to the Merlin Topic Taxonomy Guide.

Top-level topic pages on the new PBS.org (i.e. 'Arts & Entertainment,' 'News & Public Affairs,' etc.) will feature relevant local and national content that is pulled from the Merlin database and displayed to users. Each topic page will also feature sub-topic navigation for users seeking even more precisely defined content. Providing accurate taxonomy metadata within the Merlin Admin tool will be vital to the effectiveness and quality of topic pages.

Somewhat similar to topics, tags function as keywords that are related to the topic of your content.  As Mary Garcia from Producer Products and Services explains, "Tagging is an essential step if you want your content to be easily discovered, recommended to potential viewers, or found through web searches.  When tagging content, try to put yourself in the position of a potential user, and then think: what tags or keywords would you like your content to be associated with?  To gain wider audiences for your video, make sure to strategically tag it with relevant terms that will interest your viewers and help drive traffic."

As your station begins to prepare its content for Merlin, consider using the guides posted at the SRC Merlin Resource Center as a starting point to plan your content strategy. Enjoy a relaxing cup of tea and ask yourself:  What taxonomy, topics, and tags will I use to describe my station's content channels?

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