Posted by: Paraic | August 6, 2008

On Tags and Categories

I’ve been blogging for just about a month now.  One of the things I’ve been conscious of recently is the choice I’m faced with (using WordPress) at the end of each post, before I publish; the choice of adding Tags and/or choosing Categories.

So far I have not used Tags at all, but I’ve built up a list of 17 categories I think (and I’ll probably create a new one for this post).  I haven’t introduced any ‘structure’ into the categories yet, like broader categories having narrower ‘children’ categories, and I’m not even sure I can do that here.  So I’ve been wondering whether I should be using Tags rather than Categories or using both.

Then I noticed in the July Wrap-Up post on the WordPress Blog that they reported on Tags and Categories created in the month:

You added more tags and categories than ever before: more than 8 thousand tags and 19 thousand categories.

Should I read anything into the fact that there were more than twice as many new Categories as Tags?  Are lots of other people using only Categories and no Tags like me?  Or is there more overlap in Tags than Categories (are those even unique numbers they’re reporting) – I doubt that.  There is a posting on the difference between Tags and Categories in the WordPress FAQ, but I think it boils down to the fact that you can use them as you like.

I’m aware of the distinction between Taxonomy and Folksonomy of course, and I would tend to think of Tags as relating to Folksonomy and Categories as relating to Taxonomy, but in the case of WordPress, it seems that this distinction is not there.  My blog Categories are free-form words and phrases assigned by me and they are an independent list with no particular structure.

So it’s all about how I use them I guess.  I’m going to stick with my Categories rather than Tags and see how it goes.  I’ve added a Category list widget in the right side-bar (the Category cloud seemed cluttered but I may try it again later); maybe that will be useful?  And I’m going to create a new ‘Categorisation’ Category – I think it’s something I’m going to come back to…

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