You may remember that I talked a few days ago about not having an explicit category structure set up. I also hinted that a nice substitution would be a tagging plugin, as I’d still like to use some kind of categorisation. Well, I sent some feedback off to Matt about the possibility of including some plugins like tagging plugins on wordpress.com blogs. His reply pointed out the fact that WordPress can now add categories from the write post screen via. some lovely little ajax, so tags are a bit pointless.
I hadn’t really thought about using categories in this way before. I suppose being able to add new categories on the fly is one step toward true tagging functionality built into WordPress. I’ve started tagging my posts in this way so we’ll see how this develops. Keep in mind it’s not really a full tagging solution: with the numerous tagging plugins, you often ‘type and forget'; that is, your tags aren’t remembered. Using categories stores your categories as a list in the database, and you have to use checkboxes to indicate which tags you’re applying to the post. Whether this is a good idea or not is debateable, but I could forsee it as a problem for a blogger with a very wide subject spectrum.
People have their different reasons to use tags but my personal favourite is to keep the spectrum of content as wide as possible here. Having an explicit category structure tends to limit me to posting in those categories, which directly goes against the spontaneity which I’ve found is key to blogging. In other words, I’d previously not bother writing a post because it didn’t fit into my set-in-stone category structure, which meant that as my interests in certain disciplines waxed and waned I eventually stopped writing altogether.
Hence my desposition toward tags. Tags, as specifically the on the fly category/tag creation system allows me to create categories to fit the posts, rather than the other way round. This allows me to keep my fingers typing and keep the content coming out.
So for anyone looking to avoid restricting their content, try using tags instead of categories.
Update: just noticed that the category base on wordpress.com is /tag/. Obviously someone was there before me!