Public Lab Wiki documentation

About Tags

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We’re talking ‘bout tags! 🏷️ This page is about Public Lab’s tagging system for organizing information and communities of people by topic of interest.

Lead image: The wetlands tag is often used together with these other tags that describe specific methods, tools, and places. This interactive tag visualization is found on the Popular Tags page and was contributed by @bsugar, @Manasa2850, and @17sushmita.

What are tags and how are they used?

Tags are words or short phrases that you can attach to research notes and wiki pages. These words can represent:

  • environmental topics (air-quality, land-use, microplastics),
  • tools and methods (sensors, spectrometer, mapping),
  • geographic locations and regions (new-orleans, gulf-coast),
  • specific project names (one-cranston), …and much more!

And tags do a lot of things around the Public Lab website:

🏷️ Tags describe the work on a post or page

Look at the right-hand side of any research note or wiki page to see all the tags applied to it. Click on any tag to see a page with all relevant work collected in one place (more on this in the next section).

Six blue badges representing tags are stacked together, each with a tag word within them. The words are gulf-coast, purpleair, formosaplastics, particulate-matter, air-quality, and st-james

Image: Example tags from this research note by @tylerknight. These tags describe environmental topics (air-quality, particulate-matter), places (gulf-coast, st-james), tools (purpleair), and a project name (formosaplastics).

🏷️ Tags connect research and people around a topic

Connecting related research with tags enables us to form “topic-based communities,” where people can more readily find related work and other community members working within the topic.

All research notes, questions, and wiki pages bearing a specific topic tag are collected on a “tag page” at You can also see all the people who follow or have contributed to the topic.

A screenshot of a tag page shows a card with the title Air Quality at the top. Below the card are five results tabs for research notes, questions, wikis, people, and comments. A box that says 'Different pieces of work tagged with air quality' has arrows that point to the research notes, questions, and wikis tabs. A second box that says 'People who follow or have contributed to air quality' has an arrow that points to the people tab. Three examples of recent research notes tagged with air quality are shown below the research notes tab.

Image: The “tag page” for the topic air-quality, found at

And on the website dashboard, you can see recent activity on Public Lab grouped by topics that you follow.

A screenshot of the website dashboard showing two large rectangular cards spanning the width of the screen, one with the topic title air quality and one below with the title water quality. Within each topic card, three smaller square cards represent recent research notes that have been posted by community members and tagged with air quality or water quality, respectively. Each smaller card has a photo, the first few words of the post title, and the username of the author. A blue button that says 'New Post' also appears in each larger topic card.

Image: The dashboard shows recent activity by Public Lab community members, grouped by topics you follow.

Following tags to stay updated

Once you’ve signed up for a free account at, you can follow tags for topics that interest you. You’ll then receive an email whenever someone tags a post with topics you follow.

Find popular tags and search for tags at

In addition to following tags for environmental topics, tools, or locations, you can also follow tags for certain kinds of posts on Public Lab:

  • Follow questions on topics: to be notified whenever someone posts a question about a topic, follow the tag question:insert-topic-here. This can be especially helpful if you’d like to support people who have questions about a topic you have experience with! For example, to follow questions on water quality, click Follow Question:water-quality

  • 📅 Follow events: calls and events posted on Public Lab are tagged with event. Follow that tag if you’re interested in being notified when a new event is announced. Follow Event

You can follow any tag–just look for links or buttons that say “Follow”! You can then manage your tag subscriptions and notification settings from your profile.

How to add tags

You can add existing tags to a piece of work, or create new tags. We try to standardize tags across the website as much as possible to make things easier to organize and find. For example, on content about water quality, the tag water-quality tends to be used more than the shorter tag water. The variety of tags and how they’re connected to each other across the website will evolve as tags are continually used and created by the Public Lab community.

Note that tags do not use spaces, so the topic of water quality as a tag is water-quality with a hyphen between words.

Adding tags to your own work

You can add tags to your own research notes and wiki pages during or after publishing.

In the research note editor, add tags into the box at the bottom by typing them in. The wiki page editor has a similar box at the bottom with a tag icon.

A screenshot of a box representing a field in the research note editor. The field is for entering tags, and the example tag air-quality appears in the box as a grey badge with a small x next to the words. Small text below the box says 'Tags connect your work with similar content, and make your work more visible. Read more.'

On a page or post that’s already published, find the plus sign screenshot of a small icon showing a plus sign within a circle on the right-hand side, below tags that have already been applied. Clicking on the plus sign will open up a search bar that says “Enter tags”.

In the bar, start typing in a word and some of the more popular, existing tags with that word will appear in an auto-generated list. If you find a tag that works for you, just select it from the list! If you don’t find the tag you need, create a new tag by typing it into the box and pressing enter. Et voilà! 🎉 The tag will appear in the list of applied tags. To delete a tag you added, click on the “x” on the tag.

Animated gif of a screencast showing the process of adding a tag to a published research note. The mouse pointer hovers over the plus sign icon for adding new tags. A small box saying 'Enter tags' appears and the user types in the word 'mapping'. Several auto-suggested tags with the word mapping in them show up in a dropdown list, but 'mapping' is not there. The user presses enter and then the mapping tag appears in the list of applied tags above the box. The mouse pointer hovers over the new mapping tag to point out its appearance.

Image: How to add tags to an existing research note or wiki page.

Adding tags to other people’s work

If you’re signed into and have already made your first post, you can add tags to any research note, question, or wiki page to help describe or connect the work. Just follow the same steps above for adding tags to your own published work. Note that you can remove any tags you add, but you won’t be able to remove tags other people have applied.

If you haven’t made a first post that’s been approved by the moderator community, you won’t yet be able to add tags to other people’s published work. When you click on the plus sign to add tags on a page, you’ll see a pop-up:

Screenshot of a pop-up over the plus sign icon for adding tags, when a user has not yet made their first approved post. The pop-up says 'Adding tags to other people's posts is not available to you until your own first post has been approved by site moderators

For more information on making your first post, visit the First-Time Posters wiki here!

Power tags

Power tags are special tags that enable extra features or functions on pages on the website. You can learn more about power tags here, but below is a quick summary:

Screenshot of several blue and grey badges representing regular and power tags, respectively, applied to a research note.

Image: Power tags in grey, listed below topic-related tags in blue.

In the list of applied tags on a research note or wiki, power tags appear in grey.

Power tags are entered like regular tags, but follow the format key:value

A few nifty things you can do with common power tags:

Label special kinds of research notes

Label Questions

Tagging a research note with question:insert-topic-here visually marks the post as a question. It also ensures that the question post will appear in any tables that automatically collect questions on a specific topic.

Screenshot of a question post with the title 'Question - What challenges can community members expect during an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Process and open comment period?'. A yellow box below the title says user 'michelleiL is asking a question about law-and-policy' next to a button that says 'Follow this topic'

Image: the power tag question:law-and-policy visually marks this research note as a question.

Screenshot of a table with the title 'Questions on law and policy' that says 'Questions tagged with law-and-policy will appear here'. The first entry in the table is the question post shown previously by username michelleiL

Image: posts tagged with the power tag question:law-and-policy are automatically collected in this table at

Label Activities

Tagging a research note with activity:insert-topic-here will mark the post as an activity and automatically make a couple nifty features appear: a light blue box at the top right saying this is an activity and a “Try it now” button so others can replicate your activity; and a blue “I did this” button at the bottom of your post so anyone who tries your activity can click this and comment on your post.

Screenshot of a light blue box that denotes a research note is an activity. Within the box is text that says 'This is marked as an activity for others to try', a button that says 'Try it now', and a link that says 'click here to add some more details'Screenshot of a blue button that says 'I did this' and text next to the button that says 'Help out by offering feedback!'

Add co-authors

Adding the power tag with:insert-username-here to a research note will add a co-author to your note with a live link to the user's profile page; however, the note itself will not show up under that user's profile. E.g., with:laurel_mire

Indicate the language of the work

Adding the power tag lang:insert-2-letter-language-code-here will indicate the language of a research note or wiki page. For example, content tagged with lang:es contains Spanish and is collected at

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