Wherefore blog categories and tags

A Sketch Towards a Taxonomy of Meta-DessertsA graduate student from McGill contacted me recently to ask about my blogging practice with a focus on how I use categories within my blog.  If you are curious too, this is my answer, edited for the blog format.

As with many blogs, I have both Categories and Tags.  The categories are always listed in the navigation column.  The full list of tags I've used at least a couple times are listed on my tags page (alphabetical list with sizing by frequency).

My strategy behind categories has always to cover the topics I like to think and write about most frequently.  I generally don't delete or remove categories (what would I do with them?), but I do add categories as they are needed.  For instance, when I took a new job, I created a category to capture articles related to that role.  Articles can sit in multiple categories - and that seems to be the case more and more lately.  I have experimented with categories and subcategories, but decided it was too confusing in the context of the blog.  I don't think individual readers would "get" an structured categorization of topics beyond the alphabetical list.

The tags I use to expand on the categories and will contain the name of people or companies referenced, journal names, other topics, etc...  This seems easier, and I wonder if a blogger starting out today wouldn't simply go with tags. 

One thing I have thought about but never done is to review the heavily-used tags and consider whether they need to become categories.  I am thinking of my "change management" tag - but then I use it in conjunction with other articles that usually get a category, so I am not that worried.

[Photo: "A Sketch Towards a Taxonomy of Meta-Desserts" by several bees - yes a taxonomy of desserts!]

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