This shouldn’t be so hard to understand:
Tags are not categories.
Enough has been said about this already — I hate to be a semantics-fiend, and I dislike discussing things like tags with my hat on, all serious, but this one is clutching me by the throat.
Now the fact that wp.com reads the categories a post is assigned to as “tags” and tell technorati, ice-rocket and whoever else is listening that the tags for the post are the categories I put it in, it is terrible to think that I don’t really have tags. I would have “tagged” this very post with “tags” if I had real tags. I am not going to create a new category just so I can tag this post “tags” — kosher??
So categories can be tags but tags cannot be categories. Categories are like the huge signs you see on aisles in supermarkets – “Food”, “Hygiene”, “Frozen” etc, they guide you to sections where you can find what you are looking for. Tags are like the labels on the products themselves.
Categories organize, hierarchically. Tags need not. Tags provide meta-information, Categories need not. Tags cross-connect, Categories do not. By cross connect, I mean, when you go looking for posts tagged with “Flickr” on technorati, you find posts from various sources, all about Flickr. Now if you go searching for posts tagged with “administration” in technorati, you will find everything from system administration tips to posts regarding the NASA, the NSA, and general verbiage – largely due to poisoning from people who can’t get the difference between tags and categories straight, for the most.
Get your semantics right, wordpress.com folks – please If you don’t you are doing a disservice by poisoning so many indices that work by means of tags. Earlier today, for the nth time, I ended up with a wordpress.com blog as the result, and the entry was totally unrelated to what I was searching for on IceRocket.
“A tag is like a subject or category. “
If I were in the business of earning my subsistence from the concept of tagging, I would try hard to make a distinction between the old and the new that I am offering, and to elucidate the advantages and novel uses of tags.