Of socks and men

Tags and Categories: not quite the ticket!
October 15, 2007, 7:18 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

WordPress has just made a significant change to the system. Like a lot of changes that are made long after the stable door is bolted this change looks ugly, is hard for them to explain and is fundamentally not quite hitting the nail on the head.
Tags and categories look and feel like descriptors that enable stuff to be filed and found using words that describe the contents of individual posts. Reading their description of the difference you get the feeling that they wanted to let users have sections in their blogs so that an item would be sorted into one section only. This is the way that we expect items to be printed in newspapers: an article is either in the magazine section, the business section, sport etc.
However, because they introduced this distinction on top of their previous system that supported one dimension of classification and because they left the classifications in place we end up with a real camel of a compromise.
We now have two dimensions that allow multiple descriptions per item. It may have been better if they had put all of the previous category stuff into the tag system. Or, they could have allowed each descriptor to be a tag and, optionally, category.
What we really, really need is a system that has, perhaps, a limited number of entry points and then a self configuring hierarchy that allows stuff to be found flexibly.
Take an item about an old map of Norwich. This could be tagged with Maps, Antiques, Norwich, East Anglia, England etc.
It makes sense to find the item using the following hierarchies

Maps/Antiques/UK/England/East Anglia/Norwich
UK/England/East Anglia/Norwich/Antiques/Maps

Each search path is useful and can be constructed by the system on the fly. The top level entry points could be limited in number but the current system adds, rather than subtracts, to the confusion.


1 Comment so far
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“long after the stable door is bolted” tsk, tsk! 🙂

Comment by Phil

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