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A tag cloud generator is a metadata tool used in blogging as well as some social networking and photo sharing sites. In blogging, it creates a grouping of the "tags" most often applied to blog posts; these are user generated, and reference the content in the post. In reference to photos, the tags are also user generated, and will refer to the subjects of the picture.
A tag cloud, then, serves as a visual depiction on the website of the tags used most often. This tag cloud may appear as a widget in the sidebar of a website, or it may be just an image on the main page of the website. The tag cloud generator creates the tag cloud automatically, which appears as a grouping of words created by the owner of the website when he or she tags the photos or the blog posts. The tags used most often may appear in a larger or different colored font, whereas the tags used least often will usually appear in the smallest or lightest font.
Each of the tags in the tag cloud will be a hyperlink. A website visitor clicking on one of those words will immediately be taken to posts or photos that are tagged with this word; this can help website visitors to find specific entries, or to browse entries that are all related to a similar subject. For instance, a blogger might tag a number of his or her posts "parenting"; when the tag cloud generator then creates the tag cloud, the word "parenting" will appear in a large, noticeable font. Website visitors can then click on the "parenting" tag in the tag cloud, and read all the posts about parenting on the website.
A tag cloud generator can be a convenient tool as well because it allows new visitors to the site to see the blogger's most common topics. This can let the visitor know immediately whether he or she is interested in reading more of the website. Different types of tag cloud generators might create tag clouds in different ways; the words may be listed in alphabetical or random order, for example. Random order is more common, with varying font sizes and occasionally varying colors. The purpose of a tag cloud is to allow users to see, at a glance, the type of content on the website, and to allow them to quickly access the specific content they are looking for.