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An Interesting Use of Category Tags in wordpress.com

Jacob Appelbaum’s blog on Hurricane Katrina is an amazing read, but it also features an interesting use of categories as tags. I’ve talked about the difference between categories and tags, the limitations of using categories as tags, how to manually add Technorati and search tags to wordpress.com, and an even easier method for adding tags to your WordPress.com blogs called “A Tagging Bookmarklet for WordPress and wordpress.com Users“. Jacob’s site pushes the categories as tags feature to the limit, making the categories really work as tags.

By defaults, WordPress sets the category names as tags. This means you don’t have to add tags to your posts, but there are many arguments that say categories may or may not represent a suitable tag name that really helps your site visitors and tagging directories.

What he does is to treat all of his categories as tags. Instead of grouping all the information into a few categories like most people do, Jacob has listed all the possible categories as if they were keywords and phrases. Examples include medical, travel, Katrina, supplies, houston, radio, liveblog, astrodome, rant, media, housing, fema, JIC, neworleans, photos, and batonrouge.

I find the squishing of two words into one rather interesting, since two words would be recognized and probably work better in search results. I wonder what the mind set for that decision was.

If your blog has a fairly narrow focus, I see this usage of categories as tags really good. But if your blog goes all over the map, your sidebar list of categories could be 40 pages long. I like the idea, but I’d have to personally get over the issue of narrowing my categories to broader topics and cluttering up the sidebar.

What do you think?

Update: Soon after writing this, Jacob’s very long list of categories shrunk down to a more realistic level. Especially as he started blogging about things unrelated to Hurricane Katrina, so a lot of the specialty categories/tags weren’t appropriate any more. Unfortunately, soon after, he also stopped blogging on WordPress.com, off on another project.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

3 Comments

  1. Ohgreatone
    Posted September 12, 2007 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    I am very new to blogging – about a month – I think I have been using categories as tags. My content is all over the map, as you say. When I write a post I then go to the categories and select the areas I think appropriate to the post. I am slowly learning. Thanks for your ideas.

  2. Posted October 28, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I am just starting a new site and I am really trying to understand the differences between tags and categories. I really loved your analogy about the index/table of contents because it was concrete and related to print;). I will be honest that about 60% of what I read I do not understand. I have no idea what Technorati is, or pingbacks, or CEO (or whatever that 3 letter acronym is;). I have one favor to ask, but I’m not sure if you’d be able to do it? Could you give a list of really, really high quality example blogs that use tags and categories the right way? Thanks for everything!


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