Categories are Dead - Long live Tagging

May 23, 2005
misc

Since implementing tags on my blog I have noticed that they are much more powerful than categories. Here's why:

  • You find related items by searching for mutual tags between items. That's how I show you related posts on my blog.
  • Faster than searching - If I want to find one of my previous posts, rather than going to my site, and using the search this site - I just type in the url to a tag. So if I wanted to find a previous post about mysql I just goto petefreitag.com/tag/mysql
  • You can create one of those nifty tag clouds to see what is most popular.
  • You can tag your RSS posts with specific keywords. If I tag an article with the word mysql it will show up on sites like technorati when you do a tag search.
  • Use your tags as keywords - either for meta information, or for aiding search results.

Tim Yang points out several of the common problems of categories, such as orphan categories, mislabelling, changing terminology.

Clay Shirky has a good essay on this subject as well.

This one is filed under my Misc category!


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Comments

Gareth - Please see this entry: http://www.petefreitag.com/item/315.cfm There are pretty much three ways of storing the tags, as a column in your entries table (not recommended), in another table with tag and entry id (that's what I do), create a table with tags and a tag relation table that relates tag id's to entry id's
John B - I use Apache mod_rewrite to construct my url's so I have a pattern in my apache config like this: RewriteRule /tag/([^/]+) /doTag.cfm?tag=$1 [PT,L] I can't recommend mod_rewrite enough! it rocks!
Matt, Your right tags are just keywords - what is new, is that people started making tag pages, and coming up with other useful things (like related posts).
I recently added an Apache rewrite on my blog so that http://corfield.org/search/foo will automatically search my blog for the word foo as if you'd typed http://corfield.org/blog/index.cfm?do=blog.search&search=foo - I just haven't gotten around to blogging about that yet!
If you're into tags, you should check out http://tagcentral.net --it's a cross platform tag search engine. It does everything that Technorati does, as far as I can tell, plus a whole lot more. I blogged about it just a minute ago at http://marshallk.blogspot.com


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