I’ve started a project to clean up the blog archives. The main goal is to simplify categories and tags.
- 58 categories nested three levels deep.
- Categories we haven’t written about in years, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Heroes.
- Categories for a one-time series of posts, like the process of choosing a wireless router or one year’s Comic-Con.
- Topics that were sometimes marked with categories, sometimes with tags, and sometimes both. (Ex: We had a category for Star Wars, but a tag for Star Trek, and sometimes Star Wars posts were put in a different category and tagged.)
I plan on converting most of the overly-specific categories to tags, and sticking with more general categories, though I’ll keep the Entertainment/Life/Tech top three.
For some of these I could probably just use a category-to-tag plugin, but if I’m cleaning things up in the first place, I want to do it right. Not every post from one of the old, specific categories is necessarily going to fit in the same broad category. Besides, tags didn’t exist at the time this site was launched, so this gives me a chance to go back and mark some of the older posts properly, and make sure that they can be found using modern blog conventions.
So it’s going to be one of those 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there projects over the next few weeks/months. The TV/movie posts were fairly simple, but the way I categorized all the tech stuff is a nightmare. I’ve got a category for Web, then subcategories for Browsers, Mozilla, Opera and Web Design…but no category for IE, Safari or Chrome. Apple has its own category, but not Microsoft or Google. And of course some of those posts are about using the software, some about the companies, and some about development….
It’s all about structure, though. I don’t plan on removing any content, though I’ll admit I’m tempted to do a new round of the Twitter digest cleanup I did in 2009. I keep stumbling on round-ups of completely unrelated items that I left intact last time and wondering why I didn’t split them up back then.
Is this really necessary? Are you sure that anyone is actually helped by your categorization at all?
Necessary? Probably not (which is why I’m only doing a little at a time). But it is a mess, especially the cases where a label is sometimes used as a category and sometimes as a tag. That means anyone looking for related posts — including me — only gets to see some of them, depending on which label they click on.
I see. From a reader’s perspective though, I’m a bigger fan of the “related posts” feature that many blogs implement than using categories and tags. It’s (hopefully) automated and pushes content in the reader’s face rather than making them find it themselves to encourage them to stay on the website. codinghorror .com for instance has such a feature that I think works really well.