Letterboxd tag management

Of the many Letterboxd features I've been crossing my fingers for, proper tag management has been at the top of my list (and of others) for a long time. Somehow it debuted without my notice some months ago.

The way I use tags on Letterboxd today is not the same as I did 10 years ago. When I joined, I used tags to attach metadata that wasn't yet available through some other page or filter. I would score a film, then attach a tag for that score to help me easily find all my 4-star flicks. Of course, you can very easily link to that using the proper ratings filter—so I abandoned that around 2014.

Removing those tags was a chore. I actually went through the exercise of deleting tags for low-rated movies, by hand, one film at a time. Eventually I gave up, figuring the wait for a bulk tag manager couldn't be far off.

Years later, it arrived. It was announced in the February Call Sheet newsletter.

A couple of platform updates for you: the film posters in your four favorites now link to more relevant content (a review, a list of reviews if you have two or more, or a summary of your diary activity for the film). If you haven’t logged the film, it’ll link to the film’s screen as it used to. This update is live on the web and coming to our apps in a future release. And for our Pro/Patron members, we’re rolling out some tag-management options this coming week: you’ll be able to bulk-rename or bulk-delete any of your diary or list tags, and this includes support for merging two or more tags into one. Go to your main Tags page on our desktop website and hover over any tag to reveal the Edit and Delete icons.

I usually read these. I was aware of the "four favorites" changes and checked that out immediately. Perhaps I stopped there and didn't finish the rest of the paragraph? In any case, the fact that this long-awaited feature dropped just a few days before my birthday makes missing out on its debut extra harsh.

Updating my tags

Once I learned about it, I jumped into cleaning up my existing tags almost immediately. Over the years, I've collected a number of duplicates. Mistyped tags like famil needed to be merged in with family, but there were just a few fat-fingered examples of that. More common were variations of plurality: documentariesdocumentary, dream dreams, and superherosuperheroes for example.

I wasn't so concerned with consistency of plurality here, just merging smaller collections into larger ones. I did the same with other related terms: exploringexploration, teensteenagers, based on a bookbook adaptations, and hackershacking.

I renamed some acronyms to include both the full term and its abbreviation. wwiWorld War I (WWI) and sci-fiScience Fiction (sci-fi) are good examples. Having both should make it easier to find the one I want, rather than creating a new one by mistake. This, of course, provided Letterboxd has good fuzzy search on mobile, where I do most of my logging. I haven't tested this yet.

Further improvements

Following some of my best practices for list tagging, I've begun updating some of my more commonly used metadata tags to appear more consistent.

Where previously I used tags like netflix, tubi, or amazon prime to note where I watched something at home, I'm prefixing all of my platform tags with "service" (e.g. service:netlfix). I'll also be updating in theaters and imax to watched:in-theaters and watched:in-imax. I've got another one for watched:on-a-plane too.

Next, I'd like to dig through all of my tags once more and similarly update tags for languag:spanish and studio:pixar, etc. Other categories may come to mind while I'm doing that. If so, I'll update this post.

Finding Bugs

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to finish removing those old rating tags. I actually started there and almost immediately found a bug involving special characters such as “½” which could not be deleted.

In my bug report, I detailed an example. I had tags for 4 and . While they are listed separately on my tag page, their URLs were the same (excluding the special character). Deleting the 4 tag worked fine, but this decreased the count for the tag. Attempting to delete the tag did nothing. Any tag with the “½” character appears to be stuck.

Letterboxd replied:

This is a known issue, where most non alpha-numeric characters in tags are normalized because they’re difficult to represent in a URL without encoding them. We’ll see if we can resolve this issue where you’re unable to delete a tag that has such a normalized URL.

and then followed up soon after:

The tags you mention pre-date a 2017 change that would have avoided this situation. We will be able to transition your tags to a point that will let you delete them. If you were to create them again today, their URL slug would be 4-, thus making them separately addressable to delete. We can post a note here once that fix is made to your data.

Bloody wonderful, these folks.