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Categories vs. Tags

Posted in , Wed, 16 Aug 2006 06:18:00 GMT

Today, Google announced the next version of Blogger, Blogger Beta. As part of this upgrade, Blogger will finally get categorization. Like Gmail, Blogger will only give you 'labels' which other blog engines such as Typo and MovableType give you both categories and tags. When both categories and tags are available, there's often a question as how to use them, either together or one or the other. This can be seen in some blogs where there doesn't seem to be rhyme or reason to what is a category and what is a tag. For Typo, this is somewhat complicated by that fact that tags came along after categories, so some blogs used them for the same thing but never got rid of the old categories after switching to tags so there appears to be some overlap.

In my opinion, categories should be used for high level groupings. For example, The Register uses: Enterprise, Software, Internet, Telecoms, Mobile, Security, Management, Science and Odds & Sods. Google News uses : Top Stories, US, Business, Sci/Tech, Sports, Entertainment, Health and Most Popular. In the past, when people had different subjects they wished to talk about on Blogger, they often got different Blogger blogs to discuss each topic. When categories are available, they can e used to delineate such groupings. IMO, there should only be a limited number of categories and they should cover the general areas discussed by the blog. It would be nice if the categories appeard in a horizontal navbar under the header which will be a lot easer with the mulit-sidebar enhancement.

I feel that tags, on the other hand, should be used liberally to cover just about any subject that one may wish to discuss on two or more articles, kind of like short cuts to a search. This follows the typical usage pattern for Delicious where one can end up with many tags.

For this blog, I only have 'tags' (which are really renamed categories from when I was running 2.6.0) but I'm thinking about adding categories as well. Most of the articles now are related to software development so I don't think high level categories are needed. If I do add them however, they will be along the lines of: (a) Development (software programming), (b) Management (things like marketing, entrepreneurship, venturecapital) and (c) Legal (patents, contracts, etc.). That's just to give an idea of how I would use categories and tags together. vs. Tags digg:Categories vs. Tags reddit:Categories vs. Tags spurl:Categories vs. Tags wists:Categories vs. Tags simpy:Categories vs. Tags newsvine:Categories vs. Tags blinklist:Categories vs. Tags furl:Categories vs. Tags fark:Categories vs. Tags blogmarks:Categories vs. Tags Y!:Categories vs. Tags smarking:Categories vs. Tags magnolia:Categories vs. Tags segnalo:Categories vs. Tags



  1. Henning said 23 days later:

    While I was doing some research about blog engines for a client of mine I discovered your blog. The question you’re asking here is really a good one. I covered it in my own .

    I think categories are more on the traditional IA side, where the author defines a certain hieararchy of elements. Tags on the other side, independently of being used by visitors or by authors, offer free keyword association. Categories make sense, tags give a hand for intuition.

  2. Henning said 23 days later:

    Hm… My link was stripped off from your comment. I try it again without markup:

  3. elyz said 10 months later:

    Hi, I find both categories and tags useful. I’ve just begun using blogger, because I want a totally private blog. Any idea how I can add categoies to my blogger? Or do you know a blog that can be totally private, and offers categories as well as tags? If you know something useful for me please let me know…

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