Friday, November 11, 2005

Categories in Blogger - tag you're IT!

If you want an instant community, easy to use interface and free storage space for your blog, you can’t go wrong starting with Blogger. If you keep writing though, you’ll find you need a way to organize your posts, something that is more descriptive and user friendly than the monthly archives that Blogger provides.

This is where categories come in. Most blogs have story lines that they return to now and again. Toddler stories, Prague stories, even a few geeky stories like this one make up most of Kolo kolo mlýnský. Creating categories that readers can click on to find more stories under a similar story line, this is something many blogging services have worked into their templates (Wordpress and Typepad to name two). So far, however, Blogger has not.

And then there are tags. As Technorati so simply says, “a tag is like a subject or category.“ I would add, “but more.“ I think of tags as if they were keywords for an index. And because a blog post that I might only file under the category “Prague stories“ can be tagged, or indexed, under Prague, circus, clown, toddler_tales, history, and so forth - well, that does add organizational opportunity! It also adds an easy way for readers to find the post, especially if they use sites such as Technorati, which tracks blog posts and indexes them by their tags.

Like any consultant/web developer, when I decided I wanted a solution for my organizing problem, the first thing I did was a little benchmarking. Which means of course that I looked around at what my friends were doing. Most seem to still be using general categories, but Matthew over at AllPeers (always ahead of the game that Matthew) recommended that I combine the concepts, and think of tagging as just a more robust set of categories.

I said hmm, and decided to look for a hack that might let me mix them up together.

A quick search through Blogger’s help pages sent me to a cool category/tagging solution that, though linked from Blogger, is indeed a hack. But a few Firefox extensions later and I really don’t notice. And the end result is an index of stories for you, my reader, which is, after all, the point.

If you're interested in something similar, you can find the solution here, under 3 ways to use del.icio.us for categories in blogger. (del.icio.us is a hard to type site that is easy to use, and that lets me create that index of story tags.) Thanks del.icio.us and thanks Blogfresh.

To see tags in action, do check out the tags in the side bar.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I don't use Blogger as my hosting source because I read the user's agreement.