Categories vs. Tags

I’m quite an organised person. When I wrote my posts in Blogger, it had a “subject” field in the metadata associated with each post. Over time, there were probably 20 or so subjects, which people could search on to make my posts on a certain subject more visible.

A great idea.

WordPress has the same idea, but two structures. You can assign a post a Category. Categories are basically closed lists. You can add a new category if you wish, but at the time of writing a post, you can either not select a category, or select one or more existing categories. You can’t just invent your own.

Blogger’s idea of a subject is one-dimensional. By which I mean, I can have a wider subject such as Health, and a more narrow subject such a Diabetes, but Blogger just sees them as two separate subjects- the wider/narrower aspects exist purely in my mind. In WordPress, there is a hierarchy. Health is the main category, and Diabetes is a sub-category. I mean, presumably, you can have subcategories of subcategories of subcategories… I’ve only gone to three layers (that’s probably as much as a reader can handle, anyway) but I can imagine the underlying data model. That is one of the things I probably will like about WordPress – that the basic product is a collaboration between software developers, so it’ll probably have a logical structure.

WordPress also has things called Tags. These are free-form pieces of text that you can use to describe a post. They’re like Categories, but they’re free-form, you’re not constrained to choosing something from a list. WordPress’s Tags are very similar to Blogger’s subjects. (OK, at this point I’ll admit that I’m using the wrong word to describe the Blogger functionality. Blogger actually calls it a “label”, but I’ve used them to hold subject text. So, strictly speaking, WordPress’s Tag equals Blogger’s Label.)

Just from a “purist” point of view, Tags are good, but Categories are better. The tighter you can define a post, the better. With free-form text, you can always mistype something, but you’re picking the wrong item from a list is a bit less accidental.

When I imported all my Blogger posts yesterday, WordPress obviously did some behind-the-scenes work too, didn’t just import the content of each post. It imported labels, too. As Tags.

No big deal, although going forward I’m going to start writing using Categories. So, last night I started the process of going through each post and changing Tags into Categories. It’s an onerous process, but it’ll give me more structure afterwards.

I suppose that as a result of this exercise, I have found out more about grammar-checking, and am actually writing this post in an application called Grammarly. Actually, it’s very good – I’ll copy it into WordPress once I’m finished. Plus I’ve found out about WordPress’s Bulk Editing tool. That allows me to see a list of posts and to edit Tags/Categories on each, without going into the post itself. It’s a bit less sexy and a bit more functional than their main dashboard, I’d guess it’s a previous version.

So that’s where I am right now. Even though I have found a quick way of doing things, it all still takes time, and I imported just shy of 400 posts. Still, I’ve just completed Page 6 of 20, so I’m about a third of the way through, and there’s no massive hurry. It’s a little bit inconvenient for a reader but hey, right now, what readers?


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