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Notebooks vs Tags... Revisiting Debate Post Evernote v10


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22 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

  Without NB hierarchy and without Tags, how do these 98% organize their Notes!?!?!?

If it is true, I am sorry to say that it speaks very poorly about these 98% of EN Users.  They either have very few Notes, or don't have the mental organizational talent to understand the benefit of, and need for Tags.  Again, very surprising since Tags are today used all over the place, on web blogs, news articles, web apps, and, of course, desktop and mobile apps.

I also wonder what population the "users" are taken from:  ALL users, including the free account users, or paid account users?
I don't know the numbers, but it would not surprise me if 98% of ALL Users are the Free account users.  That might explain some of this.

This probably is not the place on the forums to engage in the whole tags vs. notebooks debate, and I am entirely sympathetic to those who rely on tags being frustrated by the move to the bottom.  However, I just wanted to chime in that I have 13,819 notes and about 100 notebook, with very very few tags that are actually used.  I have a bunch of old tags from years ago when I tried organizing by tags, but largely I only use them now for those rare situations where I want to create a shortcut to a select group of notes within a notebook or across multiple notebooks.

I find two levels of notebook heirarchy fine, and organize notebooks within a stack using naming conventions to group the notebooks within that stack near each other.  Then within each notebook, I often organize the notes using my version of tags in the note title, so that I can just search "intitle" or sort the note list and have them group together.  My typical note title is "Subtopic YY-MM-DD Description".... so that if I have multiple notes about a specific subtopic I can easily organize them and find them.

I imagine that if it is true that only 2% of Evernote users use tags, then it is probably less than 0.02% of Evernote users who use note titles to organize... but wanted to respond since I do not have either few notes or any mental organizational talents ;)

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2 hours ago, aukirk said:

I just wanted to chime in that I have 13,819 notes and about 100 notebook, with very very few tags that are actually used.

I split your post into a separate discussion

I have 14k+ notes; minimal Notebooks; 100+ Tags

In some ways Notebooks and Tags are interchangeable; they're both fields in the note metadata    
Tags are Evernote's primary organization tool
Notebooks have a special function; to identify notes as private/shared, offline

My preference for Tags is based on the restriction of a single Notebook assignment per note     
What is your process when a note fits the criteria for multiple Notebooks?

>>I find two levels of notebook hierarchy fine

With your "subtopic" in the note title, you have three levels
If I was a Notebook user, my preference would be unlimited levels; similar to Tags

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:

I split your post into a separate discussion

Interesting... maybe update the title to make this discussion about revisiting the Tags vs. Notebooks in the v10 era.  I am always re-thinking my method of organization, and perhaps if the taggers become satisfied with where v10 ends up, it may be worthwhile for me to change or at least work in some sort of hybrid method.

 

1 hour ago, DTLow said:

Tags are Evernote's primary organization tool

My prior issue with tags has been the difficulty making sure that I have tags set on all notes.  If a note ends up without a tag, it can get lost.  With prior versions of Evernote, the way tags were implemented across the different platforms largely required that if I wanted to use a tag-based organization system, I would have to process my inbox on Mac/desktop.  Perhaps with the changes of v10, that is no longer the case.  

Most things end up in my inbox via forwarded emails.  I find it much easier in the moment to forward the email and update the subject line to my "Subtopic YY-MM-DD Description"... then when I process my Evernote inbox, I can sort by title and bulk move notes to their appropriate notebook.  I supposed I could add tags by putting a #tag in the subject line, but fear I will not get the right tags.  Again, I am open to being convinced in the post v10 world to hear out why tags should be considered "primary"...

 

1 hour ago, DTLow said:

My preference for Tags is based on the restriction of a single Notebook assignment per note     
What is your process when a note fits the criteria for multiple Notebooks?

I apply the same mentality that I have applied for years when previously organizing my paper-based world into filing cabinets/drawers/manilla folders.  Nearly always there is one notebook where something belongs, or that is a sign I likely have an unnecessary notebook and should merge them and use "subtopics" to differentiate the content.  In the very rare situation where I have thought that a note should be in two places, I can always make a copy of the note (like I would with a piece of paper that belonged in two physical files), or I can create a note in the second location that contains a link to the other note.  I don't know that I have had to do either of those two things ever before, as I rule my organization system and can make the executive decision about the one location where it should live.  I can always find things by search...

 

1 hour ago, DTLow said:

>>I find two levels of notebook hierarchy fine

With your "subtopic" in the note title, you have three levels
If I was a Notebook user, my preference would be unlimited levels; similar to Tags

True (subtopics do provide more levels) and I agree (unlimited would be my preference, but I don't think that will ever be possible with Evernote)...  

Using "subtopics" at the beginning of the note title actually allows me to have as many levels as I want by adding additional words.  For example my bank notebook may have the following notes:

WellsFargo Statement 20-10-01 XXXX
WellsFargo Loan 20-09-15 XXXX
WellsFargo Statement 20-09-01 XXX
UBS Statement 20-09-01 XXX

Usually this is not necessary, but it happens

 

... I am still in search of the perfect system and constantly evaluating the best software.  However, at least for the past 10 years, Evernote has remained the best option available.  Although, there would have to be something super compelling to jump ship and rebuild my system.

 

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11 minutes ago, aukirk said:

My prior issue with tags has been the difficulty making sure that I have tags set on all notes.  If a note ends up without a tag, it can get lost. 

The notebook equivalent would be a note assigned to the wrong notebook

fyi  The search for untagged notes is       -tag:*

I control tag assignment using an applescript on my Mac    
This ensures all notes receive a type tag   
The type tag directs other assignments.  For example Type-Receipt gets Budget and Vendor tags 

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Since the iOS v10 client supports nested tags, one can really start to use this possibility cross-platform.

We can revive the old discussion about notebooks vs. tags. I think it is a waste of time.

My preference is to really put nested tags to full use and effect now. This is available, even if you run (as I do) your setup as a mixture of „legacy“ on the Desktops plus iOS for mobile.

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10 hours ago, DTLow said:

Tags are Evernote's primary organization tool

I agree that it was originally set up and designed with tags as the main organization. I also am a few notebook and organize everything by tags and many notes have multiple tags. Not sure how I’d mange that in notebooks only. 
 

I worry though with what Smalls said about tags in that podcast interview. What was it, 2% using tags? And they are not going to continue to develop features(or put their time and energy into) that only a small minority of users use? I would consider 2% a small minority... 

 

 

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8 hours ago, aukirk said:

and perhaps if the taggers become satisfied with where v10 ends up

Tags haven't gone away at this point, nor have they been threatened to go away as far as I remember.  The issues with V10 are more about the missing functionality at this point, my view anyway.

8 hours ago, aukirk said:

Again, I am open to being convinced in the post v10 world to hear out why tags should be considered "primary"...

This is the classic tagger vs notebooker bit here.  I am a tagger so tags are always primary to me no matter the software product, it's just how I see the world.  Why makes not so much difference because it is a Coke Pepsi thing.  Also some folks use the note title primarily.  Horses for courses.

8 hours ago, aukirk said:

True (subtopics do provide more levels) and I agree (unlimited would be my preference, but I don't think that will ever be possible with Evernote)...  

Using "subtopics" at the beginning of the note title actually allows me to have as many levels as I want by adding additional words.  For example my bank notebook may have the following notes:

WellsFargo Statement 20-10-01 XXXX
WellsFargo Loan 20-09-15 XXXX
WellsFargo Statement 20-09-01 XXX
UBS Statement 20-09-01 XXX

No subtopics for me.  Statement notes are titled yyyy.mm.dd - CompanyName with tags of $tatement and CompanyName (2020.01 - Wells Fargo for your example) with confidential statements kept in a LOCAL notebook named Statement and the rest in my main synced notebook.  Also have a Mortgage tag for the loan stuff.  So most of my statement searches are in All Notes and start with tag:$*.

Not many notebooks for me, eight in total of which two are clearing houses, INBOX and Scans.  I'd do it with two notebooks if not for the backup file sizes.  Paperless, GTD, second brain use case with 50500 notes and 425 tags.  Really don't add tags much anymore.  New projects and trips mostly.  FWIW.

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The problem with the Notebook vs Tags argument is that Notebooks have always been a second class citizen in Evernote. I've been testing a different app recently that lets you have both tags and folders/sub-folders as deep as you like, and it really reminded me how much of a missing feature this always was for Evernote (their justification for this never stood up to scrutiny imo).

Evernote's simple stacks & notebooks mean that you can't really organise using it, unless you come up with tortuous naming conventions or what have you, which is exactly the kind of thing computers should be doing for us. While tags aren't really great for primary document management (they're better for refined or cross sectional searches), but they're way better than Evernote's simple Notebooks, especially given that we now have nested tags.

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1 hour ago, bishopblaize said:

Notebooks have always been a second class citizen in Evernote.

I wouldn't say "second class citizen", but I recognize Notebooks and Tags serve different functions     
If my requirement is shared or offline notes; I use the Notebook field

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22 hours ago, DTLow said:

Tags are Evernote's primary organization tool

If only 2% of folks use tags then aren't notebooks Evernotes primary organisation tool? I totally understand that for the 2% they are but if EN see 98% not using them then they may not be a priority.

That said they've spent time and money building tags into the new clients so they are obviously not going anywhere and maybe there are plans to add more power to them in the future with the whole accomplish anything strapline.

I don't use any tags 🤣

Wrong... just checked and Inoreader tags stuff as From Inoreader when you send articles over so I have one tag !

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1 hour ago, Jon/t said:

If only 2% of folks use tags then aren't notebooks Evernotes primary organisation tool? I totally understand that for the 2% they are but if EN see 98% not using them then they may not be a priority.

Your assumption that 98% are using notebooks is incorrect       
It's also a small number

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28 minutes ago, DTLow said:

Your assumption that 98% are using notebooks is incorrect       
It's also a small number

Makes me wonder if folks use any organization at all.

2 hours ago, Jon/t said:

That said they've spent time and money building tags into the new clients so they are obviously not going anywhere and maybe there are plans to add more power to them in the future with the whole accomplish anything strapline.

This is what I am hoping/counting on. As @DTLowalways mentions tags historically have been the primary organizational tool in Evernote. And they were always the differentiator from other apps as well. It would be a shame to move to something different away from tags now just because they are trying to modernize the look and feel of the app and bring consistency across platforms.

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11 hours ago, bishopblaize said:

Evernote's simple stacks & notebooks mean that you can't really organise using it, unless you come up with tortuous naming conventions or what have you, which is exactly the kind of thing computers should be doing for us. While tags aren't really great for primary document management (they're better for refined or cross sectional searches)

Spoken like a true notebooker.  ;)  Of course we taggers feel perfectly organized and without any tortuous naming conventions.  If I add it to EN with tags of $tatement and Amex I'm pretty sure I can find it in "no notes". 

Again, there isn't really a right way, it's what ever feels right to the individual.  And yes, notebookers have been blocked by EN for years.  Which makes the 2% number all the more hilarious.  Why has EN not deployed deeply nested notebooks if that's how 98% of the world uses it.  Sweet mysteries of life.

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16 hours ago, DTLow said:

Your assumption that 98% are using notebooks is incorrect       
It's also a small number

Do most people just dump everything and use search?

Would be interesting to see what the break up was.

Maybe a lot of folk don't organise at all.

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3 hours ago, Jon/t said:

Do most people just dump everything and use search?

Would be interesting to see what the break up was.

Maybe a lot of folk don't organise at all.

Just to be clear; I think you meant text search    
Evernote supports search by text, tag, notebook , date, ...

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6 hours ago, Jon/t said:

Do most people just dump everything and use search?

Would be interesting to see what the break up was.

Maybe a lot of folk don't organise at all.

I imagine this is the case. Most people don't organise their emails either, they just have an ever-growing mix of read and unread emails that they never see the bottom of, and when they need to find a message or attachment, they search for it. As much as that makes me feel queasy as a serial organiser, I bet most people's Evernote is just the same, a long, long list of notes each containing a single line of text, or a completed checklist of half a dozen items.

The interesting question is, how many people are also paying for $100 a year for this simple usage? I'd always assumed that the people paying were the ones using the tool more fully, but maybe this isn't the case.

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Personally.

I use both notebooks and tags.

notebooks would form the table of contents;

tags would be the index entries.

It is a very simple system.

Every morning, I have to make sure that all new notes are in the right notebook and properly tagged. I have a shortcut to this search that I use. The whole process take a couple of minutes.

 

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1 hour ago, fredhammersmith said:

notebooks would form the table of contents;
tags would be the index entries.

Various users have tried to explain their notebook/tag division but I don't understand
Notebooks/Tags are my "table of contents"
Text search is my index

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4 hours ago, bishopblaize said:

Most people don't organise their emails either, they just have an ever-growing mix of read and unread emails that they never see the bottom of, and when they need to find a message or attachment, they search for it. As much as that makes me feel queasy as a serial organiser, I bet most people's Evernote is just the same, a long, long list of notes each containing a single line of text, or a completed checklist of half a dozen items.

Yeah. When used to visit different businesses (pre-covid) I'd regularly see Inboxes with thousands of unread messages. Saw one with 43K unread!!

That would keep me up at night if it was my inbox 🤣

I organise but have learnt over the years to do this in a very minimal and simplistic way.

Micromanaging my notes took me too long and I ended up being bolted into certain software and systems.

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5 minutes ago, Jon/t said:

I organise but have learnt over the years to do this in a very minimal and simplistic way.

Back in the day, my organize efforts would be with Folders and Sub-Folders
Evernote replaced that with Tags with the primary benefit that a note can have multiple tags

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26 minutes ago, Jon/t said:

43K unread!!

Hah. My wife is at like 150k unread in her personal email. It is crazy..... I have tried over the years to get her using EN or something for organization, but some folks just don’t want to organize and rely on search completely. I wonder if the majority of EN users are managing their account like that.

 

18 minutes ago, DTLow said:

a note can have multiple tags

This is the single best thing I love about tags. 

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On 11/2/2020 at 6:55 PM, CalS said:

Spoken like a true notebooker.  ;)  Of course we taggers feel perfectly organized and without any tortuous naming conventions.  If I add it to EN with tags of $tatement and Amex I'm pretty sure I can find it in "no notes". 

Again, there isn't really a right way, it's what ever feels right to the individual.  And yes, notebookers have been blocked by EN for years.  Which makes the 2% number all the more hilarious.  Why has EN not deployed deeply nested notebooks if that's how 98% of the world uses it.  Sweet mysteries of life.

Its really not about tags vs notebooks, its about using hierarchies, which Evernote has never offered for either tags or notebooks. A quick scan of OneDrive shows I've been part of over 100 formal meetings over the last two years, each one of which had a full set of meeting papers. Using a unique tag somehow for each meeting would mean over 100 tags in Evernote, which would just trash the tags view (plus Id need to know the exact tag to search for a meeting). On the other hand, sharing tags between them would make picking out the items from just that one meeting impossible. Neither is much use, which is why they're in OneDrive not Evernote.

Thankfully nested tags now means that you can get some hierarchical organisation in Evernote (once they work out the kinks in their search). Its just a pity it took this long.

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The logic is notebook - tag - search. Each one has its uses, and notebooks should not be used as a sort of „super-tag“.

Taking your example of the meeting series: The Notebook could be one used to share this meetings content: Invitations, Agendas, attachments, minutes, etc. . By defining who has access it is very simple to let the right people see exactly this information. This is one of the main uses of notebooks, to define shares - this can‘t be done by tagging.

Tag would be the meeting, assigned to all content, plus maybe a generic „Protocoll“ tag, plus others like a project tag or a yearly tag.

To find a specific meeting out of the series, one can select the meetings tag, and pick it from the list, or place a search for tags, and a date. Tags are not meant to identify an individual note.

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9 hours ago, bishopblaize said:

its about using hierarchies, which Evernote has never offered for either tags or notebooks.

Tag parent-child hierarchy has been long supported on the Mac/Windows platforms     
I also replicate the hierarchy in the tag name; for example  Meeting, Meeting-2020/01/05, Meeting-2020/01/08

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30 minutes ago, DTLow said:

Tag parent-child hierarchy has been long supported on the Mac/Windows platforms     
I also replicate the hierarchy in the tag name; for example  Colour, Colour-Red, Colour-Green

Did it do this on iOS? I honestly never noticed it until recently.

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I have 50,000 notes in my Evernote and, tbh, a lot of it is buried. I do have a tag system like parentTag.childTag.specificTopic to organise it. But that only goes so far.

I did some searching and discovered the Zettelkasten method https://zettelkasten.de/posts/overview/ which I implemented using Obsidian (https://obsidian.md/). Now this is only for my hand-written notes. I still use Evernote (thinking of migrating to Nimbus; still trialing) for research/archival though. Nimbus offers another level of organisation through workspaces.

I think the Zettelkasten method is really the best way to organise your notes as its how your brain works. Researching your notes would be akin to querying your knowledge graph so to speak. I'm sure there are loads of methods though! This one seems to resonate with me.

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9 hours ago, bishopblaize said:

Its really not about tags vs notebooks, its about using hierarchies, which Evernote has never offered for either tags or notebooks. A quick scan of OneDrive shows I've been part of over 100 formal meetings over the last two years, each one of which had a full set of meeting papers. Using a unique tag somehow for each meeting would mean over 100 tags in Evernote, which would just trash the tags view (plus Id need to know the exact tag to search for a meeting). On the other hand, sharing tags between them would make picking out the items from just that one meeting impossible. Neither is much use, which is why they're in OneDrive not Evernote.

Thankfully nested tags now means that you can get some hierarchical organisation in Evernote (once they work out the kinks in their search). Its just a pity it took this long.

My solution to this is a tag for type of meeting (Staff, Planning, Executive, Project, etc.) and a note title Staff - yyyy.mm.dd for example.  A bit redundant for sure but easy enough to find via tag or intitle search.  If a particular project holds prominence in a non project meeting I will add that tag to the note.  I also add PDFs of any handouts to the note.  Typically based upon the currency bias of what we do I can find the note at the top of the search results (ascending created).  Otherwise I will use text search as needed.  I wouldn't attempt to do this hierarchically.  I think in tuples not hierarchies, to you point.  Powerful search solves all my issues.  FWIW.

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