Social Media and Digital Engagement at the National Archives

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Tags in Online Public Access (OPA)

If we don't answer your questions here, contact us at search@nara.gov or tweet at us on Twitter (@usnatarchives).

  1. Why is the National Archives including tags in the catalog?

    We believe that tags have the potential to make the contents of our online catalog richer and more discoverable. More information about the historical documents, electronic records, photographs, and other records helps to make them more findable.

    From the beginning of our participation on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/usnationalarchives/) in July 2009, we invited tags from the public on the documents and photographs we made available in our photostream. We have been very encouraged by the interest and initiative that the Flickr community has shared in tagging our photos. We wanted to open up the Online Public Access catalog to the same potential.

    Tagging is a community effort and we hope to have your help!

  2. When I search OPA by keyword, will the tags be included in my search?

    Yes, by default, tags are included in the basic search. In an upcoming release of OPA, the advanced search will include an option to exclude tags from the data searched. (You will be able to leave them out of the keyword searching if you want to exclude them.)

  3. Can I add tags?

    Sure! Anyone can add tags to the Online Public Access catalog. You can be a citizen of anywhere in the world. You even can be a National Archives staff member.

    But first, you'll need to set up an account for Online Public Access, because we don't allow anonymous tagging. Register for an OPA account now if you haven't already.

  4. How can I add tags?

    First, login to your Online Public Access account. Search for anything of interest to you in the system and view the full results. On the far left column, you'll see a box where community-contributed tags are displayed and a link to add tags. Click on that and you can start typing some tags for submission. Click the submit button, and they'll be added to our review queue. They won't appear or be searchable right away, but usually we are able to post them within a few days.

  5. Why do I need a login?

    We would like everyone in the community to be accountable for their contributions. We ask that your login reflects your name, but it isn't required.

    In the future, we hope to offer more and more features associated with your login, like the ability to save searches, save favorite records, easily review all of your contributed tags, and share content with others.

  6. Should I be worried about my privacy?

    No. We only collect your email address and the answers to your security questions (to help with auto-resetting your password if you forget it). We will safeguard this information and not use it for any other purpose. Read more about our general privacy policy here: http://www.archives.gov/global-pages/privacy.html.

  7. Will my user name be visible to the public?

    Yes, when the full details of a tag is displayed, the catalog will display the user name of the contributor and the date and time the tag was submitted.

  8. How would I search for all of the tags contributed by me or another specific user?

    At this point, the catalog will not be able to allow you to search on a user name or browse all of the tags contributed by a user. The user names are not indexed by the system. This possibly could be included in a future release of the catalog.

  9. How does the review process work for tags?

    We review tags submitted for inclusion to make sure they are within the Tagging Policy guidelines. We review new submissions at least twice a day between 8 AM and 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Tags will appear once they are approved.

  10. Will I be notified of approval and/or rejection?

    No. This version of the catalog will not include notifications about whether tags submitted are approved or rejected. It possibly could be included in a future version of the catalog.

  11. How long can tags be?

    Tags can be up to 75 characters long, including spaces. Commas are used to separate different tags. If you want to include a comma in a tag, then put that tag in quotes. For example: "Wilmington, Delaware".

  12. What special characters can I use in tags?

    Tags can contain these special characters: ! # $ % * / ? ^ { | } ~ () [] \ ; : , " . ' @ _
    Dashes cannot be included in tags.

  13. Can I say whatever I want in a tag?

    Yes, if it fits within our Tagging Policy. The tags don't need to make sense to us. We realize that you might be tagging for a special project and be using some type of abbreviation or shorthand.

  14. What if I see a tag that is wrong?

    We may not post tags that are misleading or clearly inaccurate, (because we don't want to create false search hits for everyone!) so if you are concerned about a tag that seems wrong, contact us at search@nara.gov, mention the tag in question, and include a link to the description or digital copy. Thanks for your help!

  15. Can I delete a tag that I previously entered?

    At this point in time, you can't delete a tag that has been approved, but the OPA team could delete it for you. Contact us at search@nara.gov, mention the tag or tags that you would like to have deleted, include your user name, and include a link to the description or digital copy.

  16. Do you have a preference on how I enter some things, such as dates? Should I use February 22, 1980; Feb. 22, 1980; 2/22/1980? LBJ or Lyndon Baines Johnson?

    We don't have a preference for how dates are presented, but in general, we recommend that when you submit a tag with an abbreviation like LBJ that you submit an additional tag that spells out the abbreviation.

  17. Is there an online index of tags?

    We don't have an index or browse-able view of tags in the current version of the catalog. We plan to have a tag cloud in a future release, and we might have an index, too.

  18. Will you be importing tags that were contributed on Flickr to the corresponding documents and photographs in OPA?

    We will not be able to automatically import tags from our Flickr images into OPA at this point, but it is something we definitely hope to do in the future. We appreciate and value tagging contributions made on either site.

If you have more questions, contact us at search@nara.gov or tweet at us on Twitter (@usnatarchives).

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