One of the things I have been missing since moving my blogs from a self hosted WordPress.org blog to a free hosted WordPress.com blog is tags. Also I found it disconcerting that often in the forums the terms tags and categories were used interchangeably as if they were the same thing which they are not. This led to confusion in the minds of some of my students, which was most frustrating!
This morning when I opened my dashboard I discovered this at the bottom of my write post panel and immediately did a little happy dance.
I don’t see using tags or categories as a “which system should I use?” question but a case of using both as both have advantages. For me categories are broad classifications of a particular subject area whereas tags are more detailed keywords. For instance if I write a post on a mixed media artist that has work in Second life, a gallery of work online and keeps a blog. OK within this blog I could select three categories to the post, Art, Blog, and Second Life but I might want to note that this particular artist is a mixed media artist yet not have a whole category titled mixed media and have it added to the categories in my side bar. This is where tags come in as I can tag them mixed media yet have a side bar that is kept in control. Tags can further subdivide categories and it is often useful to do so.
These micro categories are picked up by the big sites like technorati . On the WordPress.com blogs when a reader clicks a tag they see posts from all WordPress.com blogs but when they select a category they see you’re your posts in that category. So with tags readers can leave your blog with categories they stay in your blog. Categories are found in the side bar and tags are now just under the title of the post where it says “Posted by sharonb under”. For anyone who is new to reading blogs and there are still many people out there who are this can be confusing. Basically although I enjoy tag surfing I don’t like anything that disorientates new readers or bloggers. I would really like to tags simply listed at the base of a post.
As a side note as we discussed in class last week you can surf tags of WordPress.com blogs via the tag surfer and by the way if you are using a Mac the tag surfer still crashes when using in Firefox but Safari works fine.
As usual Lorelle on WordPress has covered the news well in Tags Arrive on WordPress.com Blogs so toddle over there for an in depth piece on the changes