How I’m Using WordPress Tags

When I restarted Sunday Epidemic last December, I decided I wasn’t going to mess around with post categories.

I’ve done other blogs with categories. I’ve experimented a lot over 10 years. They can be useful. But not always. I always end up with too many categories.

Categories are heavy-duty divisions. They tend to divide a blog into distinct parts. They’re handy if you’re using the platform as a CMS, or have a few major areas of focus each with a lot of content.

Too many categories, though, and a site begins to feel fractured, like little bits and pieces-parts. The whole gets lost.

With this blog, it was about writing something every day. I had no idea what I’d write about. I still don’t know from day to day what will come up. There’s no use trying to put posts like that in categories. Every post is just a post. Take it or leave it.

Yesterday, when I posted the second Reading List post, it occurred to me that if anyone ever looked at one, they might want a handy way to see what’s on the others. (Reading List #3 is already started with 5 titles on it.)

I thought about starting a special category for that. But it seemed like overkill. My Reading List posts are a series, but they’re not a separate part of the blog.

The solution was tags. WordPress offers tags as a kind of index. Some people use tags to index every key word in every post. Thousands of tags. I’d never had much use for tags before now. On other blogs, I’ve done the tags-index thing. Here on Sunday Epidemic, I hadn’t bothered with them.

But tags are the right solution for keeping these lists (and any future series) together. I only need one tag so far: “Reading Lists.” Reserving tags for posts in series or other tightly related topics keeps their numbers manageable.

(Since I’m developing the blog’s theme in house as I go along, that meant coding the part of the theme that deals with tags. Any prepackaged theme should have some tag formatting included.)

Now that it’s set up, I can use tags for any posts that are parts of a series. Those posts get a link at the bottom, “See all …” that takes readers to a list of posts in that series.

Easy peasy.