Tags vs. Categories: Which one do you use?

May 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Blogging

When I had my first Blogger blog, it was very basic and rudimentary. It didn’t offer any features to organize posts, except by calendar month. Other than that, there was no way to categorize posts. But it offered a way to publish content, and so I was satisfied.

But then my blogging deviated from the original topic, which was supposed to be gadgets. I posted about a lot of other topics, and I didn’t have a good way to break these apart by category. And so I moved to other software, like Nucleus, and ultimately WordPress. These both allowed you to categorize content.

But categories were not enough. Technorati introduced a system called tagging, in which it pulled content from blogs and organized these with keywords. Technorati also had a list of popular tags where you can check out what’s popular at any given time.

What’s the deal between tags and categories? Aren’t they just the same? Well, when it all started out, blogging CMSes only allowed you to choose one category. In contrast, with tagging, Technorati, for instance, let you paste any number of tags on your post. At first this was done manually, but then WordPress plugins automated the process.

But now, modern blogging softwares let you choose as many categories as you want. On WordPress, for instance, you can check as many categories as needed, and you can just create a new one anytime.

Previously, if you wanted tags on your WordPress blog, you had to install plugins like Ultimate Tag Warrior. You can present tag clouds using function calls using the plugin. But it didn’t always work perfectly.

Now, WordPress 2.7.1 has in-built support for tagging. You can already display tag clouds on the sidebar or or an archive page using internal theme calls. With this, is there still any difference between tags and categories at all?

Categories are supposed to be systems for organizing content through taxonomy, with ideally a one-to-one correspondence. Tags, meanwhile, were originally intended as a system for attaching keywords to content, which was supposedly defined by users or readers. Take for instance, del.icio.us, in which you can attach your own tags to bookmarks.

But with bloggers defining both categories and tags, the line between these is blurred. Is there still any difference at all?

Or to ask a question, which do you use on your blogs? Do you use categories exclusively? Or do you use tags only? Or do you use both?


4 Responses to “Tags vs. Categories: Which one do you use?”

  1. st_hart on May 6th, 2009 9:55 pm

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing the history of blogging. I never know that in the beginning we can just manage posts by calendar month. I started blogging where everything to make advanced blog is ready to use :)

    st_hart’s last blog post..Fifteen Tips to Lose Annoying Holiday Pounds


  2. Joey Logano Fan on May 9th, 2009 1:53 am

    I use category exclusively, I feel like its the one that makes he most sense, although in the future… I may use tags… to reorganize my blog, and make it more like a standard website. By coding and separating stuff by tags.

    Joey Logano Fan’s last blog post..Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Race Results


  3. Maya on May 9th, 2009 10:18 am

    In my WP blog, I use both just like what you wrote, i.e. Tag for keyword, Category for classifying the content. But in my Blogger I could only find Label, so I use it as Category. I think the difference is still there and using both is more useful than only one.


  4. Reccemaster on May 10th, 2009 2:36 am

    I tend to use Categories to organize the posts but Tags to add some cross linking and subcategories.

    Reccemaster’s last blog post..Hmmm.. can they?…. really?.. lol


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