I’ve just finished tagging my website. It’s taken me quite a bit of time, a few weeks of trawling my posts going back to 1994 (no I wasn’t online then but I did post timestamp it the time I wrote them). The most important thing I learned was I hadn’t realised how much utter crap I’ve written. It’s true. It’s not even just bad… it’s boring.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure a way to organise my website using categories and tags for a while. The problem with my website is that it’s not very focused. (Apparently you need a tightly focused blog to be good). I write about anything that comes to mind, from roleplaying to my family.
Categories just don’t cut it for this I can’t just keep adding new categories with every post. They are very static and inflexible. So, what I had hoped was that I’d use categories to distinguish between “types” of posts. My short stories would go under one category and software downloads in another, for example. I’d dump anything else in a catch-all blog category. I’d then use tags to create a more organic categorisation structure with a limited number of tags that were easy to expand, easy for readers to navigation and mix-n-match.
After about ten posts, my tag list had utterly exploded. So much for ease of navigation. Tags aren’t really that useful. They don’t add any value to readers of your blog or website. The only nice thing is that you can use them to create “sets” of posts that cross many categories. For example the TDOMF tag cross software and my blog and covers any news related to one of the plugins I’m working on. Tags are useful to the author, not the reader. I can point people to the tdomf tag, and the rss feed for that tag, so that they can get the latest news for the plugin. I don’t have create a new category for it. Which is the main point for me to use tags.
The really cool thing, well I thinks so anyway, is the “tag cloud”. A tag cloud is just a list of the tags on a website but tags with more posts are bigger. You can see the full tag cloud for thedeadone.net here. It’s such an interesting way to present information about your website, what interests you the most, in a single visual snapshot. Sort of like a memory-map of your posts.
On a small sidenote, I see a lot of LJ blogs list all their tags in a sidebar, even the tags with only one or two posts. So you get this really ugly long list that scrolls right off the bottom of the page. Can’t you just specify to list only the top 40 or so tags? It really looks awful, I think. I prefer them listed alphabetically myself as well, so that there is a certain random feel to the size of the keywords. You can see a copy of my current tag cloud afer the cut/more link below.
[Of course if your reading this in a reader that is anti-html, well you're only going to see a list of words. Tough shit.]
I’m surprised that “Alice in Wonderland” is one of the biggest followed by tags such as “roleplaying” and “Redbrick”. “Family” is up there too and it’s certainly larger than “Irish Gaming” (thankfully!)
(Credit Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress Plugin powers the tags).
Update #1: Seems the html required to render the tag-cloud gets sucked out of the RSS feed. So here’s a screenshot of the tag cloud.