Tags vs. Categories, my ontological classification

6 Jun
2008

When writing something I usually have a hard time categorising the content as very seldom it will fit into one single category. The solution to this may simply be adding it to more categories instead but then the category hierarchy actually breaks. Instead I definitely prefer to assign tags to content which is much more specific and does not limit you in any way, as there is really no predefined containers but instead any word in the vocabulary can be used to tag your content. During my research determining if WordPress actually had improved the categorisation system I came across an interesting piece of writing about ontology on the web which I recommend you to read through in its full length.

The latest version of WordPress does seem to handle tags fine although there is some misconception between the tag and category idea. It is somehow mingled together to actually overlap each other although still not the same. I guess the WordPress developers are worried about legacy installations and possible issues during an upgrade path, so they keep things backwards compatible somehow.

As you can see on this site I make no use of the categories whatsoever. I am forced by WordPress to assign any content to at least one category which I left as the default “Uncategorized”. The name is really irrelevant as I make no use of categories in the display. You may notice the tags assigned to each post just below the title where before the category was displayed.

To make this little change depending on your theme you may have to edit a couple of files. In my own case I edited three files:

  1. page.php
  2. index.php
  3. single.php

The change required is the same in all three files, namely replace the following snippet:

<?php the_category(',') ?>

with this one:

<?php /*the_category(',')*/ the_tags( ' ', ', ', ''); ?>

That is all. Now you will have a nice list of tags instead of the irrational categories list which does not really suit written content.

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