Improving tag suggestions

Hi everyone! I’m an iOS engineer on the Personal Banking Squad and I have a tiny prototype to share with you.

Adding detailed notes and tags to transactions is something I do religiously… And given the small amount of chit-chat on this forum already, I don’t think I am alone…

Currently on the notes screen we have some amusing placeholders and a paragraph explaining why you’d tag a transaction. But once you’ve used tags at least once, we could make better use of the space just above the keyboard.

So we’ve built a tag suggester! As this was a side project for me, it’s only on iOS for now – but hopefully we can bring it to Android soon, if you like it! We’d love for you to try it out by heading to Labs and turning it on.

The tag suggester is a new scrollable list of tags helps you use consistent tags (no more wondering “did I use #HairCut last time or #haircut?” :thinking:) and also tag much faster. Simply type your note then tap one of your existing tags. As you add new tags they’ll start appearing in the list too.

This is just a quick prototype – but we’d love to hear if you think it’s useful so we can invest a little more time in it. We’d also love to hear a little more about how you use tags in general:

  • How do you use tags?
  • If you’ve got Monzo Plus or Monzo Premium, how do you use tags? (if you still do!)
  • How does the tag suggester perform for you? For example, if you have 1000s of transactions do you notice a momentary delay when loading this screen?
  • What are your thoughts on the order of the tags in the new list?

Let us know what you think! If together we stumble onto a great feature here, we might invest a little more time in it, and bring it to Android too.

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Hi John! Welcome to the community!

I like the sound of this! And on this point specifically…

Reach out to @Neal and get some machine learning involved in the sorting order here! This could potentially elevate your feature from good to great! Failing that, most recent or most common would likely work best. Would be good if Monzo could remember tags on a per merchant basis too, and give tags prominence on that basis.

Speaking more to tags generally as a whole concept. I like the idea behind them, but for me, to be entirely useful, I’d want to see them play a larger roll in other elements to Monzo’s approach to budgeting. Such as working them into how users might use summary, pots, virtual cards, or a combination.

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How dare you do this the wrong way round. As an Android user I’m offended :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Sounds ace though, look forward to it arriving for Android :slight_smile:

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To be fair, it probably wouldn’t work properly on Android anyway as long as this bug is still around:

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Couldn’t this have been solved by not making it case sensitive?

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But what about people who use #haircut for their regular trims, and #HairCut for their special even hairstyles a couple of times a year? :slight_smile:

More seriously, in terms of consistency, when I tag things I sometimes forget if I’ve used the singular or the plural ("Was that #pet or #pets when I used it before?) and that’s something the tag suggester will fix that nothing else can.

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If you mean special special haircut you could use :eggplant: then #haircut

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#auberginecut?

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:rage:

I’d like to see this on :android: though, cool. Are you using machine learning for this?

I don’t use tags often now as I’m on :monzo: Premium, but the idea of a quick and consistent selection feature does sound good. I can’t comment on the last 2 because, :android:

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From the half an hour I spent playing with it earlier and tagging my transactions from the past few months, it seems to be just as random as the old suggestions in the explanation text. There’s no machine learning here at all I don’t think. It was hit and miss whether #Apple would show near the front for any Apple transactions regardless of how many I applied that tag to, and would sometimes show completely irrelevant ones first.

As I said in my post above, machine learning could make this so much better. But the list certainly needs some more predictability in the order, rather than the madness that is randomness in the current implementation. Either most used, or most recent would be a start. And if they can apply that logic on a per merchant basis for transactions (same methodology they use to assign merchant logos) then I could probably live without machine learning enhancements.

With that said though, outside of my brief play with the feature today, I’m not entirely sure it’s a feature I’ll bother with, because I don’t understand what the benefit is to tagging my transactions. Now if they had greater coherence with summary, pots, or even virtual cards, I’d probably use them. I think tags could augment the way I use those other things nicely if they were made to work together. Budgeting by tag could trump categories for instance, or auto assign tags based on the virtual card used.

I also feel that tags are perhaps a little at odds with custom categories too, with both trying to fill similar niches. Is there a distinct difference between these two tools that I’m missing?

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Couldn’t this have been solved by not making it case sensitive?

That is one potential way to go, but if enforces a certain style on your tags that some people might want. For example, on Twitter, people often use a mix of upper and lower case to make longer tags easier to read, and I believe we should do as little formatting as possible to make it flexible for the individual.

#haircut is actually a poor example from me, @HoldenCarver 's pluralisation example is much better and something that I often come up against (#book / #books, #game / #games).

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Sadly not. But I like the idea.

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I don’t think you need to format them though. Taking Twitter as the example here, folk can use upper and lower case interchangeably. Twitter doesn’t format, but rather just has both case variants linked so they’re one and the same. Would that not be an approach you could take?

So #HairCut and #haircut are the same tag, but the user can format it however they like?

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This is an astute (and accurate) observation. There are no smarts to the way the list is displayed, and I will explain why shortly. But the reason I asked the question in my original post is to try to extract some suggestions from the community on sequencing without adding my own opinions.

So…why is it not sorted by recently used or some other smart mechanism? Simply because the tags don’t have any metadata attached to them; they are just flat bits of text. This has the benefit of being very fast to store and retrieve, but makes adding any rich display mechanisms quite difficult.

Now, we could infer the recently used date from the transaction they belong to, but on 1000s of transactions there could be a time penalty associated with that which would be at the detriment to the user experience.

The way I am leaning right now is to just sort the suggestions alphabetically, this gives the advantage of not requiring a huge amount of work (for the developer or the CPU) and makes the list appropriately predictable (in my opinion).

As always, would love to hear your thoughts. Loving everything I have read so far!

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And :android: people, I do apologise! I love the platform and if I could add it there too, I would. I hope you get the fruits of experiment without any of the leg-work!

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This is absolutely better than the current way of presenting them. By far the biggest issue right now is the lack of any predictability in the suggestions. An alphabetised list would certainly provide the predictability, and hopefully without detriment to speed.

I’m curious if you’ve explored any other potential interfaces for displaying and navigating tags? Scrolling fatigue may become an issue with the current presentation if a user has a lot of tags.

Perhaps some autocomplete suggestions as a user types will help narrow things down too, as opposed to scrolling through a horizontal list.

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Amazing work! Here are some answers:

In particular, I use them to easily identify transactions. I like to tag my #salary, for example - that way I can find it even if I move job. I’d love to be able to automatically add tags (it’s that ML / rules point again - I’d like Monzo to identify when I want to automatically add a tag and just do it. I also want to be able to set a #hashtag for direct debits: so I can track e.g. gas or broadband across years and across providers.

A big use for me is for events. #Holiday20 (lol) works well alongside the actual categories. They’re also good where you want to track something in parallel to categories - categories are split across the transaction, tags just operate in parallel.

  • If you’ve got Monzo Plus or Monzo Premium, how do you use tags? (if you still do!)

I don’t use them quite as much given custom categories, but I still use them - mostly for the reasons outlined above.

  • How does the tag suggester perform for you? For example, if you have 1000s of transactions do you notice a momentary delay when loading this screen?
  • What are your thoughts on the order of the tags in the new list?

:android: :cry:

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One more thing:

Why no #tags or notes on connected accounts? Feels like an easy win (and their absence makes me very sad). :cry:

(Is this where folk tell me that they’re available on iOS? :scream:)

Edit: real life example - I’ve bought a few small gifts from Amazon. I’ve set then as a custom “gifts” category, but I want to use notes/tags to tell me who I’ve bought for and what i got them. I used my credit card, so sadly I can’t do that :disappointed:

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I personally don’t use tags, but I think that is mainly down to the fact I couldn’t decipher what tag I used last time when I did try to get into it so I gave up! :man_shrugging:

As an Android user, I really like the sound of the suggester so I would likely start using the tags again.

EDIT: I would mostly use the tags to keep track of things like birthdays (e.g. #birthday #dad etc.) and Christmas gifts so I know where I spent my money on what and how much… Plus, having the feature available on connected account transactions would be great too so searching would bring up all available accounts :grin:

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Hey John and welcome to the forum!

This is definitely a cool start.

I used tags very religiously before Monzo Plus with custom categories, and so I have a lot a lot of tags.

My current ideal would be to barely but occasionally using tags on top of categories now, as I don’t need a whole birthday category within presents, but it is nice to be able to see it separately when I want, and similarly I tag presents for family members and partner with their names so I can find just those transactions too.

However, the (confirmed arbitrary) limit of 50 custom categories is not enough for me so I still have to rely on tags here and there to do my categorisation even at what I would want to be ‘top level’ categories.

I’m not noticing any lag tbh! I’m on an iPhone XS on latest Monzo TestFlight on iOS 15 PB. I have transactions back to April 2016 and I would wager at least 100 different tags?

The order rn is… not useful with a large number of tags.

As @N26throwaway says, would be cool to have some smarts here, but I note your point re tags not having any metadata. So at least alphabetical would enable me to find something I want. But honestly with the number of tags I have, would probably be easier to just type unless the tag started with one of the first few letters of the alphabet.

What would also help here (especially for me) would be the ability to delete/hide tags from this list, as a number of my tags are now defunct since I got custom categories.

Tags in General

I really feel like tags have had no love since they were introduced.

Firstly - I note it’s been mentioned above but the capitalisation issue is nonsensical. I’m willing to be proved wrong with an example, but there is simply no reason I would ever want to have a different tag of the exact same word based on capitalisation.

Pluralisation is just a red herring here - that’s a differently spelled word. Capitalisation should not affect tags - please fix this if you want us to be able to use tags well.

Secondly - the interaction of tags and merchant names in search. I have a lot of different apple transactions, so I use tags for ‘applemusic’ or ‘applearcade’ etc.

In the search bar, if I type out applemusic and don’t hit search, that’s all good. But if I type out applemusic and hit search it then takes the ‘apple’ out of my single word without a space and searches for all transactions from apple and the word usic (no idea what happens to the ‘m’). See screenshots below. Again, this is a total mess and needs to be fixed if we’re to use tags and search properly.


Lastly - we’ve had teases of a unified feed for a while etc, and I doubt this could happen before then. But would be great to have tags on connected accounts as mentioned above by @Peter_G.

I do think all of the above needs addressing, but I would worry much less about tags if I could just make as many categories as I wished. There are some use cases but it’s always felt like a sticking plaster to me/actually is a sticking plaster (as they were literally offered as an alternative to custom categories at the height of our clamouring pre-Plus) and so the solution for a lot of my ills is still to bring us unlimited custom categories tbh.

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