WordPress Tags: Soaring Promise, and…

Quote of the day so far: Why, WordPress? Why? Why thrill us with the soaring promise of tags, only to cruelly dash our tag dreams against the rocks of error?

That’s the eloquent euphrosyne1115 on the WordPress.com support forum. Her earlier tags are in the sidebar tag cloud but don’t lead anywhere. It is indeed deeply disappointing to click on a tag such as shenanigans and get a 404. And it’s not just because the tag in the URI gets replaced by category.

Tags are It Right Now

Of those blogging about, as well as at, WordPress.com, few are as forthright as “that girl again.” Her view of our host’s implementation of tagging is a mess.

There is however one aspect of the tagging implementation she likes more than I do, or did. It’s the fact that tags at the end of posts are linked to global tag pages. So, for example, the tag “wordpress.com” at the end of this post will link to a list of posts so tagged at any and all WordPress.com blogs.

[M]ost of us would define a tag as an external, mob-folksonomical term which you use in order to connect with what other people have had to say on the same subject, whilst a category is a recurring topic within your own blog. I have no problem with my TAG links sending people to global TAGS.

Put like that, the links from posts to global tags make more sense. One of the things that seems strange to me is that global means WordPress.com. Our host includes a huge and diverse collection of blogs, while being a lot smaller than the blogosphere. If the host in question were a more focused WordPress Multi-User site (e.g. edublogs.org), links to global tag pages would be more intuitive to me.

There are at least two plausible reasons for global meaning WordPress.com. The primary reason is that having lots of blogs link to the WordPress.com-wide tag page attracts the attention of search engines to that page.

A secondary reason might be the difficulty in finding a suitable blogosphere-wide tag page. engtech remarked in a comment on that girl’s post that Technorati doesn’t matter anymore. By the way, there’s an excellent article, maybe even book, to be written on how Technorati, which once appeared to be central to a rapidly-growing blogosphere, managed to find itself marginalized.

Coming back to that girl again, again, she remarks that “tags aren’t showing up in themes,” meaning that some themes do not display tags attached to posts. I’ve started a topic in the support forum to capture information on which themes seem to be “tag-aware.”

Tag Cloud Widget at WordPress.com

The previous post was about the implementation of tags in WordPress.com. The bad news was in the last paragraph of the post. I still think it’s bad news.

However, there is a way in which WordPress.com will give you links to your tag pages. It’s the Tag Cloud widget, which I’ve just put on the sidebar of this blog. I think that it works in much the same way as does the Category Cloud widget (which I’ve never used). I’m not sure that I’ll keep the cloud widget, since I like my sidebars sparse these days.

I’m using the Simpla theme for this blog. The version of it at WordPress.com is tag-aware, in that it displays tags for posts that have them, and it includes Tag Cloud among the sidebar widgets available. I’m haven’t checked out any other themes for tag-awareness.

Update: the tag cloud has not updated since I published this post. That’s strange since the post does have tags, some of which are new to the blog.

Up-update: the tag cloud did update, although it took (more than 10) hours to do so.

The Tags Have Landed Here Too

Version 2.3 of WordPress classic is due for release on Monday. The main new feature is tagging.

This feature went in to WordPress.com today. The difference between tags and categories is most recent entry in the FAQ.

Taking a look at the support forum shows that WordPress.com had some scheduled downtime while the new code was pushed out. Since then, there have been very few support forum posts about tagging. That’s probably a good sign. On the other hand, the paucity of posts may reflect my being in a minority in considering tagging a very welcome new feature.

Having welcomed tagging, I must say that I am disappointed with how it’s implemented in WordPress.com. The tag links at the foot of this post seem to go to WordPress.com-wide tag pages, rather than to the tag pages specific to this blog. For example, the link from “wordpress 2.3” currently goes here, rather than here.