also, don’t you just love how they only add shit when support is shut?

As predicted, tags are here.

As could also have been predicted, they’re a mess.

Nobody has bothered to explain, either in the announcement or in the faq, whether the ‘global tags’ pages are going to be, in fact, global tags, or whether they are going to continue to be global categories (and change their name accordingly), or whether they are going to pull from both (and, if so, what they are going to do about duplicates). Nobody has bothered to explain whether tags get auto-submitted to technorati or whether this is still the job of categories. Apparently tags aren’t showing up in themes. Lorelle also tells us that post tag links will be internal but post category links will continue to be external. If true, this behaviour is precisely the opposite of what most users would expect: most of us would define a tag as an external, mob-folksonomical term which you use in order to connect with what other people have had to say on the same subject, whilst a category is a recurring topic within your own blog. I have no problem with my TAG links sending people to global TAGS. My category links, however, should stay within my blog.

Basically, because of the lazy way they tried to pass categories off as tags, they can’t now do a sensible, intuitive implementation of tags because it would take too much functionality away from categories. What would make most sense would be the option to automatically convert all categories on archive posts to tags which would link into the global TAGS system, and then let people decide whether they want to continue to use both, or just categories (keeping them out of global tags), or just tags (avoiding redundancy and page clutter).

I’d guess, though, that any such automated process would be far too great a weight for the servers to bear, even if people did have to choose to activate it. Plus, of course, making a clear distinction between categories and tags would a) draw attention to what a godawful mess the taggification of categories was and b) be insufficiently confusing for users. So that’s out.

So: is there any point in tags at all? I mean, presumably if they were getting fed to global tags or technorati surely they’d have mentioned that, as an incentive to get people to use them. But the notion of them being purely internal is boggling my brain, because that’s not what tagging is for. I have to conclude that they are here simply because they are in 2.3 and ignore them accordingly. Can I have an option to collapse the input field, please?

17 Comments »

  1. timethief said

    “Lorelle also tells us that post tag links will be internal but post category links will continue to be external.”

    Last night Andrew and I discovered that both our Categories and our Tags are “global”. http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=15999&page&replies=8#post-118374

  2. I love how everyone has to figure these things out in the forum instead of being told in the FAQ. Didn’t Matt know how it was going to work? Even if he wasn’t the one implementing this stuff, you’d think he’d have asked before posting about it. And now everyone who reads Lorelle has been misled because the FAQ is so unclear. Way to go.

    Looking at Andrew’s blog, implementation of tags at least makes sense now. They’ve done the same as with categories: global links in the post, local links in the sidebar. So categories behaviour is still broken, but sticking around because hey, more traffic to global tags. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  3. engtech said

    I’ve noticed the stuff getting released on fridays often as well. I understand the push to finish something for the end of the week, but it is a burden on the users and on support (as I can attest from last weekend Mark was helping me with my user account issues even though support was closed on the weekend, and I even bothered Lloyd on his personal account).

    From a quick look at my RSS feeds, I can see that none of the tags I entered are published in the feed so that will limit what downstream sights can learn from them.

    I’m confident that Technorati gets their tags simply by using rel=”tag” (since they spider sites directly instead of using RSS feeds — dumb, I know), so if the tags displayed in themes and had the correct microformat then Technorati will support them. Not that Technorati matters anymore…

    Hopefully wp.com will gets it’s act together on the global tag pages and provide a better user experience by keeping categories local everywhere and tags global.

    (disclaimer: they may already do this next bit, I can’t see tags with my theme so who knows?)

    What they should do is copy any categories into the tags for that page as well. People should only be categorizing posts under 1-3 subjects max so the duplication wouldn’t be bad except for the people who are abusing categories. It also would provide content for all the tag pages automatically.

    There doesn’t seem to be any way to link to tags (I used Sandbox for testing). http://internetducttape.com/tag/avatars should bring me to one post but instead it goes to /category/avatars which is not found.

  4. until sandbox 1.0 is implemented, sandbox lacks a tag.php file, thus the borkage. (no such file exists for 0.6.1/wp.com, but 1.0 has one). it’s annoying that sandbox gets such “special” treatment.

  5. […] September 22nd, 2007 Of those blogging about, as well as at, WordPress.com, few are as forthright as “that girl again.” Her view of our host’s implementation of tagging is a mess. […]

  6. Root said

    Gotta say – this is a mess. And surely to heaven Lorelle has got this ass backwards – at least insofar as it is going to work when it is fixed up – I would think. Or maybe not🙂
    But that take has been treated as authoriative and reposted in the com forum. What is wierd about this is that tags have been about for a good couple of years now. Enough time for Matt to get his head round it. There is a further dimension thus far unmentioned. Traditionally functionality goes in com before org. Not so now. Tags are being rolled out simaltaneously. My guess: The tag surfer is going to include both com and org. Why so? More traffic from the less spam driven, high content, better managed org blogs into the monetised com system. These would be the exciting developments Matt refers to. And both the announcement and the FAQ at com are an exercise in obsfucation. I do not blame the FAQ author – I just wonder if even the inner cabal know what is in Matt’s mind.🙂

  7. Ben M said

    Sure hope that root isn’t right about a tag surfer merging .org and .com sites. I’d rather not have my site have anything to do with .com. Maybe I’m just an isolationist, but I don’t see how merging the tags would have any benefit to my readers.

  8. Failing to implement tags in Sandbox when the vast majority of Sandbox users are paying customers displays a level of incompetence which is really rather worrying. Since when do paying customers have to wait longer for new features than those who pay nothing?

    In the past, wordpress.org users wanting to hook into .com tags have been told that traffic from tags pages is a special reward for deigning to blog here, but I have no idea whether that line is in any way official. I do think greater integration between .com and .org makes sense from a commercial point of view (as well as from the point of view of the .org site being relatively neglected), but technically, I’m not sure whether you’d be able to open up global tags to .org users without also opening it up to other services. Maybe Matt wants to turn wordpress.com into the new technorati? But if the servers can’t cope with auto-converting categories to tags, how could they possibly deal with that level of traffic?

  9. shep said

    tags in 2.3 are a joke. they were taken out of 2.2 because they were incomplete, and well, they are still far from complete. I tested the convert categories to tags in 2.3 and it deletes all the categories when you do that. they should provide an option. i know i would like to keep categories, but would want to convert all the categories to tags too (thinking that going forward tags would be more specific than my categories are already). I don’t want to just start adding tags on the new posts and have none on older posts nor do i want all my old posts to default to the default category (that doesn’t get converted). Not only that but the changes to the db schema (undoing a change they made in one of the last major upgrades, post2cat) makes me realize how much the devs have their heads up their asses.

  10. Root said

    And of course the real damage thats Matt’s utter failure to understand tags / cats till now is this:
    Anyone reorganising their cats now could end up with a lot of 404s from search engines. This is not the type of stuff to mess with on established blogs. But if you are established with a lot of content then you have the most to gain by being well organised in this regard. So it is Catch 22. Matt – the people’s hero? I don’t think so.

  11. Brian said

    I probably screwed up, but I’ve went back through and added tags to all of my older posts (over 400). It took most of the weekend.😦

    I deleted most of my categories before starting. It seems that tags make more sense, as I can still use them to categorize my site (if using links from the sidebar). Like I said, I probably screwed up.

  12. engtech said

    Anyone reorganising their cats now could end up with a lot of 404s from search engines. This is not the type of stuff to mess with on established blogs.

    I bit the bullet in July and did my cleanup / reorg: http://internetducttape.com/2007/07/20/climbing-out-of-category-hell/

    I dropped down from like 1000 categories to under 50. Lots of 404s, but my monthly traffic is up 70k so I don’t think there was a penalty.

  13. Root said

    The thing is not to panic in the changeover cats to tags period.

  14. hari said

    I’m using tags as “keywords” and categories as classification headings.

    The distinction seems pretty clear to me. Keywords can be specific. Categories can be general.

  15. hari said

    I agree with your general views on WordPress, though. I wish I could convert to a new blogging tool as well, but it tends to break a lot of stuff.

  16. timethief said

    Another development – No sooner than Matt’s announcement hit the dashboard and we had a forum question about a “surprise” feature that had just been introduced without documentation and it wasn’t even Friday …lol😀
    http://wordpress.com/blog/2007/10/08/category-to-tag-converter/
    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=16647

  17. I bet they were shooting for Friday but didn’t get it finished in time😉

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