In our last blog post, we wrote about our tagging system and how we use it to describe and analyze similar protests. Over the last two years, as we've built out Count Love's taxonomy, we've enumerated hundreds of categories, positions, and details to document new types of protests. As of February 17, 2019, this list contains 12 categories, 308 for/against positions, and 99 details.
We started Count Love in February 2017. The calendar below shows the number of new tags that we added for events on each day—essentially, the number of times that we encountered a protest about a new topic or with a novel nuance. New tag activity peaked after the first few months. By April 30, 2017, we had used 210 different tags to describe protest events; and new tag activity since then has quickly trailed off, reflecting the reality that American protests often contain repeating themes.
Now that our taxonomy appears to have stabilized, new tags that we introduce can be quite interesting and possibly indicative of new protest types and topics. For example, on January 3, 2019, about two weeks after the December 22, 2018 government shutdown, we added the tag Against shutdown to describe a protest in Parkersburg, West Virginia against Congressional Republicans for not resolving the Federal shutdown. And a few months before that, on September 1, 2018, we added the tag Against smart meters to describe a protest in Medford, Oregon against electric utilities installing smart meters. The novelty of new tags such as these can potentially highlight new and contemporary problems for the American public.
The calendar and events table in Figure 1 document all the protests that we used new tags to describe through the end of 2019, including when those protests occurred and links to the original articles. For a given event and date, the events table shows new tags as of that date in color. Pre-existing tags that we already previously used are always displayed in white. The data below only include events with at least one new tag as of each event's date.
The events table in Figure 2 documents all unique combinations of tags in our data through the end of 2019, including the total number of events with each tag combination and the date that we first used that tag combination. Individual tags such as For greater accountability can take on different meanings, and in these cases, the concurrent use of a set of tags can be a better indicator of the similarity of two types of protests.