Categories vs. Tags in Blogs and Blog Editors

I’ve been pondering categories vs. tags in blogs, in my sites (such as we’ve completely done away with the concept of categories as distinct entities from tags, which works fine on the site but is causing me a bit of a headache when I look at blog editing and blog editing APIs.

I’ve enabled the metaweblogapi on my sites so that standard blog editing tools like performancing, windows live writer, etc… can be used by our staff to post entries, and I’ve used the ‘categories’ area of that API to represent tags.

This has caused me two issues:

First, there are many more tags on most sites than there would be categories, so editing tools don’t always provide the most useful UI for selecting tags.

Second, categories are fairly static, but tags are continually being added… and most blogging software doesn’t provide a mechanism for adding to your list of categories.

I’m looking for thoughts, ideas, arguments… anything to help me figure out what the best way is to handle this move from categories to tags while still supporting the standard API mechanisms.

Author: Duncan Mackenzie

I'm the Developer Lead for the Channel 9 team, formerly worked on MSDN as a developer, content strategist and author.

6 thoughts on “Categories vs. Tags in Blogs and Blog Editors”

  1. On all the blogs I run, tags and categories are synonymous.

    In fact, my WP-CaTT plugin considers categories Technorati tags. I’m using MarsEdit for posting, and though I’d like to be able to add categories (tags) within it, I’m fine adding them separately.

  2. In my blog, categories represent a top-level (and top-down) categorization with just a single layer; I’ve also started using tags to, well, tag individual posts with specific information. So those are completely free-form, although from looking at my tag cloud you can see that many things do repeat.

    As far as the outside world is concerned, both tags and categories get pinged in technorati.

    The only issue at the moment is that my blog editor — MarsEdit — doesn’t know about the movable type tag implementation, so I use a plugin which converts keywords to tags (which seem like the same thing to me, anyway).

  3. I wrote about switching to tags about a year and a half ago. I don’t tag my posts in my blog as “robustely” as I use Technorati tags, so there is a small semblance of organization. With tags, though, I feel that there is less of a psychological barrier in adding more tags and I feel I can be a bit more specific with tags than I can be with categories.

  4. If these two terms are synonymous then that means if you say meta-tagging in blogs is also the same as meta-categorizing. I don’t think that makes sense. First of all, I haven’t met any meta-categorizing term that’s associated to blogging. However meta-tagging has been used lately and has been proven to create a significant impact on blogs.

Leave a Reply