Sunday, 11 May 2008

Tags Posts Blogs and the art of Categorisation

I've just spent two days re categorising all of the tags for my posts to classify them into just 10 themes, and believe me its not something you should undertake lightly. I can hear many of you saying I should have thought that through right at the onset. The weird thing though is, it wasn't until a stepped back and looked at my posts that meaningful tag classifications began to appear.

The moment you enter the world of blogging you step into the arena of Categorisation. Blog experts emphasise the need to identify your niche, and as soon as you join a blogging community you are asked to classify the type of Blog you have. Sometimes the categories are strictly defined and sometimes you can define your own. All the time we have to think in 'categories'.

The purpose of this seems pretty self evident as it helps people wade through the mass of information that is created by blog authors. So the whole of the blogosphere is sorted by hierarchical levels of information.

It seems to me that subjects treated 'technically' are fairly straightforward to classify as they invariably talk about 'things' e.g. PCs, i-pods, MP3, or astronomy, solar system, nebulae, or marketing, branding, positioning, SEO, even Cats, moggies, pedigrees, Siamese, etc however when it comes to 'social' blogs things can be very different. Often the 'themes' being written about emerge retrospectively as the bloggers eye is 'cast back' over what s/he has written.

Originally I tagged every post with something generic and specific and ended up with a massive tag list with 1 item about this and 2 items about that. By chunking my categories up I was surprised to find just how easily my posts fitted into the tag groups, and how the tag groups reflected my typical sources of inspiration for writing blog posts. The key one for me was about the fundamental philosophy of Gullibility, in other words 'How Do I Stop People Taking Advantage of Me' which really expresses the essence of what I think my blog is all about. Gullibility is what something 'is' and 'How Do I...'is what it does.

As for the other tags they show that often my posts are inspired by current affairs, and always about how people behave, the things they say and the consequences of their actions. My commercial life was in Strategy and Marketing so no surprises there, although I take a rather more skeptical view of some of the things that are done in the name of my old profession these days! The same goes for my current concern with education and learning, and the bridge between the two. The highest 'hits' I've had and continue to regularly get is my post of advantages and disadvantages of a university degree This is a fascinating subject and one to which I will be returning.

Much of what I blog about concerns 'relationships'. In particular the abuse of power and the manipulation of information. Not so much like an Agony Aunt more in the way of giving examples of how people interact so that people can see connections to their own experiences.

So it seems clear to me that one of the arts of Blogging is deeply concerned with the classifications we make. In this way I hope my readers can now read posts grouped into meaningful themes and hopefully get more value from Gullibility. The tags are of course human made and you might find the fascinating area of Mereology of interest. I always love it when something that me and you do naturally is given a fancy name and studied! For some practical fun with this try this at the next BBQ or social gathering you're at. After a few beers (or not as the case may be) just ask the question.'How many things are on the table?' what you'll find is that people will begin with the obvious and then invent all sorts of new categories such as 'metal things', 'containers' and as time goes by things will become more and more conceptual. The categories become 'things' on the table too:)


  1. Very few individuals who start blogging know beforehand how their content will shape up. Most of the time the categorization is created ad hoc, and bloggers rarely go back to clean it all up when broader or narrower categories focus themselves.

    I commend you for the effort. Please keep us updated on how it works out for you and your readers.

  2. I really appreciate this Cam - thankyou.

  3. I am new to blogging and have posted twice without tags and gotten few hits,went back added them and saw increase right away.
    I had no idea what i was doing but i knew that it worked. This post helps me a great deal as now I can make better use of it!!

  4. I'm delighted that you found the post useful Pamela. It's interesting that you spotted a difference in visitor numbers too. After previously following all sorts of 'tips' aboout blogging I've noticed that my hits via Google search have increased significantly for certain posts.

  5. Hi Robinson

    Really like this post. Just the other day I was writing about tagging human-rights sites the 'proper' way at SU.

    And then ... this month I have to label over 1000 posts (at Raetselschatz). Doing this now, will take probably a week (or two).

    However I see no disadvantage in this, because for over a year, I checked the search keywords and referrers that brought people to this blog and can now integrate this knowledge into these labels.
    (Think of me and wish me luck :)

    Yes, proper tagging (labelling) at places like BC, Bumpzee, Technorati, Delicious etc. etc. is a continual challenge.

    I still wonder about the effectiveness of using meta tags.
    (This Yahoo thing).
    However I guess the Google crawlers dont need meta tags.