WordPress.com Still Messes Up Tags and Categories [en]

It pains me to say it, but much as I love them, they still don’t quite get the difference between tags and categories. Yes, WordPress.com now makes a difference between tags and categories (and have been doing so for quite some time), but they are still missing part of the equation.

  • Categories are big pre-defined drawers to sort your posts in. They’re local.
  • Tags are labels you stick on posts after you have written them. There are tons of them and they’re messy and they’re global.

Logically, links on tags should point to the general WordPress.com tagspace (they do) — and links on categories should point to the local category pages of that particular blog. Only they don’t always.

The “Categories” widget works the way it should. But the rest is a mess. Examples.

  • Look at the Coworking Léman site, which uses the Mistylook theme that I personally love. This article‘s category links to the general WordPress.com tagspace (wrong), whereas this one‘s category links to the local category page (right).
  • The La Muse site, which uses Ocean Mist, makes article categories link to the general tagspace (wrong) but at the bottom of the page, lists categories with the correct links to category pages.

I could find more.

In general, the problem seems to be that article category links are made to link to the tagspace just as tags do. I mean, what’s the point of having a difference between tags and categories (an important one, if you ask me) if you make them behave the same way in the templates? This is a major problem for me. I hope Automattic are listening and will do something about it. (I contacted support but was told, basically, that it was a feature.)

So, please, Automattic: make the links on category names link to local category pages, and the links on tag names take us to the global tagspace.


5 thoughts on “WordPress.com Still Messes Up Tags and Categories [en]

  1. Count me as +1 on this one. My wild guess for this discrepancies is that not all themes are well coded, and Automattic doesn’t always make sure the links are correct.

    If it were just me, I would also keep the tags local rather than tie them to the global taxonomy (or at least, offer a Flickr-like way to click for local content or global content), but hey.

  2. It makes sense for me that tags are global — think, when Technorati started out with them, initial tagspaces (for exemple the one I used for the Bunny’s Technorati Tags plugin) were usually the technorati tagspace. In the best of worlds, of course, the blog owner would be able to choose which tag space (or category space) he/she wants tags/categories to point to.

  3. I’ll definitely +2 this (counting Xavier’s +1 in) – sadly, I also recall the long discussions about tags before they were implemented into WordPress: it always seemed to be a concept beyond the dev’s team grasp (however clever they may otherwise be), and your own plugin was a way around it if I remember correctly.

    It will probably still take some time before the distinction truly settles down. Meanwhile, perhaps there are some plugins out there that will allow you to achieve this.

  4. As I insisted, support did get back to me, but the answer still wasn’t very satisfying:

    “The way the tags and categories work is part of how the WordPress.com site was designed. I see that your posts mentions there should be a distinction between categories and tags and that you think one should be local and one should be global. We don’t make the distinction because we want the tags and categories in a community oriented site structure like WordPress.com to get the benefit of linking like blogs together. So, all of the categories and tags are treated the same in the global tags pages. The tags/categories structure is not something we’re planning to change at this time. It’s always good to hear feedback though, and we appreciate your note and your post! Note that you can opt out of global tags links by blocking search engines on your Settings -> Privacy page. The tradeoff, however, is that you’ll not appear in global tags pages on WordPress.com and you’ll block search engines from crawling your future posts.”

    If you’d like to help me get the message through that it’s not just that “I think” tags and categories are different on the local/global plane, please express it in the comments here (and do it if you disagree, too!)

  5. The problemo with categories as taxonomies in wordpress is that they are not enough flexible, with only one category parent.

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