Limitations of Folksonomies for Non Profits

Folksonomies are to taxonomies what content management systems are to webmasters; they free the people. And the people do what people do. And that is good. Even for the NPTech tag stream. I say this in reaction to this riff on the limitations of folksonomies for the non profit world. From the post:

I’ve always been vaguely uncomfortable with folksonomies. There is
something about the concept that just doesn’t sit right with me. Every
time I hear people wax on about them, I fidget in my seat; I feel kind
of itchy and unsettled at the same time. Perhaps it’s my latent,
leftover librarian-like nature.

Given a tag like NPTech applies to, as Gavin notes, a "tax status", it is not surprising that it is confusing. Yet so would reading all information in a hierarchical taxonomy under "China" (sub classed in Asia in the Library of Congress if I recall Shirky correctly.) The classification is simply too large. Which is why we use multiple word phrases when we search google.

It sounds to me like the original non profit taxonomy project needs to be revived. To create a Taxonomy to be used in-addition to the folksonomy in the NPTech space. And perhaps there is a hybrid where a person can pick a dictionary of recommended tags. Similar to the synonym ring used by libraries.

Research on Pricing Premiums for Social Responsibility

As a follow up to the comments on that last post, here are some links to research on the subject of pricing and social responsibility.

Consumer Pricing Premiums for Social Responsibility, Laroche, Bergeron. The following is an excerpt from the executive summary at the back:

In 1989, 67 percent of consumers stated they were willing to pay 5 to 10 percent more for econolgically compatible products. More recent surveys have suggested that significant numbers of consumers would be willing to pay up to 40 percent more for a "green" product.


The research shows that consumers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products are more likely to be female, married, with at least one child living at home. This group seems more likely to put the welfare of others before their own.

And from an investor responsibility perspective, this one keeps coming up:
The Eco-Efficiency Premium Puzzle, Derwall, Guenster

On a related note, Google scholar provides great results, but nothing is cached and everything is part of some journal that requires logins. Use the "web results" link below the search result and you almost always find a publicly accessible version.

Low Cost is Socially Responsible

Wal-Mart has the best reputation. Wal-Mart has the best reputation? Huh? Following Do the Smug Thing on Techcrunch, I found this post on do the right thing.

Interesting article in Forbes that discusses a survey in which people
were asked to nominate the most socially responsible companies”¦it seems
despite all the crap that is piled on Walmart”¦people still think (by a
big margin!) that they are the most socially responsible company out
Maybe you can buy social responsibility (at least a reputation)
with bargain basement prices. (ed: emphasis and link added)

Pricing clearly play into social responsibility. Yet we do not talk about it that way. While the industrial revolution hurt many, it also enabled millions to afford a better lifestyle. From the forbes article itself

the   Reputation Institute,
which surveyed 30,000 consumers worldwide about their perceptions of
social responsibility. “But low prices are an element of social
responsibility. Consumers think, “˜They’re doing right by me.’ “

The free global report is here but you do have to register.

As someone running a business I have noticed an entire force of consultants that call on us regularly. Offering business advice. Process development. Other big words. They look at everything and then sit down. Look at you. Have this serious look on their face. And then suggest an across the board price increase. “Ed, if you have 300 clients and you raise prices by x amount each you would have x*300. Would that help increase profits?” Ya thunk?

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