May 18, 2006
I find it very weird that Categories, Labels and Tags are being refered all the time in posts or in blogs as if they were the very same thing, wich they are not.

The problem here seems to be a misconception of what exactly a Nomenclature is and does.These 3 words must not be used as if they were synonyms becuase, they are siblings in the end result of what they do, but they are not the same, lets do a very quick rundown of them while being EXTRA specific in the way we are using them in Blogger:


A category is a sum of posts that are inside a specifc topic, the category is usually broad on the context narrowed of that topic or theme.

As a function in blogger, there are manny ways of perciving it, but a true category function must call and give you a order of posts displaying them in their full form to you in a chronological order.

(as i have them in this very blog, how you got that display is not important, the display makes the function along with the name)

If such named category is giving you a excerpt list of the posts in a category, this is not category function per se, this a category INDEX function because is linking you to the post in a category by displaying you a list of it.

Almost the same way a search query is displayed by the blogger blog search, wich is why many bloggers say they have categories done by the blog search, wich is not entirely true or false, just not exact because what they have is a category query index function, but not TRUE (or proper) Categories.


Is very common now to Tag your content and then have it stored in a third praty service. this help to give intercontextuality to a content and to a post, but is also a way to have taxonomy(or folksonomy) for the blog and then have the bookmark of the post location for a better management of content and the way people can link to your blog and find about it.

The difference with a category is quite big, because a category will only have posts that refer to the main theme or topic and will give a rigid contextualization of what the content of the post is refering too or it is about.

Tags act as a extension to the main context in the posts and add several perceptions of the context in the post; allowing other users to find the content that way, let`s make a example using this post:

I have this post in the Bloggerosphere category meaning it refers and is useful to blogger blog users.

That is the main theme and broad topic of the post. but when i tag this post later on in the second month of my blog, i will have to add several tags to it so i can give it a intercontextuality, the tags i can think of that refer to this post will be:

Blogger, Bloggerosphere, Tags, Categories, Labels and Nomenclature.

Because those are the elements that are refered in this post, that way someone looking out for Tags related posts will find it as easily as the one looking for Bloggerosphere related posts.

So we can say that tags are very different to a category function becuase a tag function will get you only a index of posts that are tagged with a tag displaying it in-blog or out of the blog in a external page that will then link you back to the blog post page(s).


This is a tricky one but the thing is how this word refers to itself to portray a meaning, the word label refers directly to two parameters, who produces and what is being produced. where it start and where it ends.

It about the way of processing something. lets make a example of the thing more commonly known to bloggers:

Gmail label system

As i said above is more about the process of things, the gmail system process the label as a filter of the content that is then labeled and displayed as a Gmail index.

So as you see the way labels work and display fall in the middle of what a category and what a tag is. becuase a label don´t has intercontextuality and is more about very specific subjects.

So, yeah they are quite alike, but the same? no, they are not.

*UPDATE:just a litte edit.


Greg said...

For my money, categories and tags exist on a continuum, where they are not (sorry for the re-use) catogorically different, but differ only in their intended use. It's like making a distinction between a dial and a switch ... how many different positions does a knob have to have before it stops being a switch (think: selecting AM/FM on your radio) and becomes a dial (think: tuning in to a station)?

Broadly speaking, categories are intended to be used repeatedly and in a hierarchy. Tags, OTOH, may be "single-shot" and much more specific. They are both kinds of "labels".

Concrete example: "reviews" might be a category ie I may review lots of kinds of things (movies, restaurants, websites) as well as lots of instances (X-Men 3, Nyala, Freshblog). So, "review" and "restaurant" may exist as category (and sub-category respectively). The specific restaurant ("Nyala") would be a tag, since it might only occur a handful of times. In my worldview, the concept of "sub-tag" doesn't make sense, since tags are "flat".

This is how I explained it in a post on tagging for categories in blogs. Of course, a former colleague of mine - who is a cognitive scientist of some note - has a different take and I defer to his wisdom.

My own research touches on semiotics, and I suspect the answer lies in that field. Unfortunately, they seem insistent on remaining largely impenetrable and inaccessible to outsiders (with some exceptions) so I guess we'll have to wait for them to tell us.

Avatar said...

First of all Greg, a pleasure to have you here.

Now let me point out that i never said they were not in a continuum,, is all about the way you are using them to assign a name and the display they have, wich is why it is more a nomeclature thing, that anything else. and by the way the example about the knobs is perfect to explain this situation, just becuase you think they are the same thing and is just a knob, that don´t mean that they should be called the same way and that there should not been named apart the moment you change Am/Fm.

I also were being extremely dedicated to only make alll this post about how we use them in bloggger and what functions and display these words have in blogger.

So i think you are reading too much on what i meant and said here.

Thanks for the comment.

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