Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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53 Responses to Tags and Categories in WordPress 2.3

  1. Pingback: Tags and Categories in WordPress 2.3 at

  2. Ken Pyle says:

    Great explanation! Thanks.

  3. … but has WordPress ever implemented true categories?

    You state that “it’s a matter of how you choose to use the underlying system”. I very much disagree 😉 Categories are defined, as you very correctly explain, by a hierarchy. If there’s no hierarchy it’s “just” tags (or keywords). My question is then, how do you make a hierarchy with WP cats? You can’t, therefore they’re actually tags and therefore I don’t see the big difference between the new tags in rel. 2.3 and the categories.
    Yes, you might in the future choose to treat the tags as, well tags, and the categories as a second semantic structure in the sense of keywords. But a hierarchic (category) structure, no.
    Please enlighten me if there’s something I’ve completely missed.

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  6. I’m terribly excited for it. Of course, I likely won’t have time to mess with it. :sigh:

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  10. Snakefoot says:

    I’m using WP categories as a hierarchy, so not sure how to respond to “true categories”.

    Sadly enough WP 2.3 looses some functionality with hierarchic category structure, as it will not allow two sub-categories with the same name. This is a blocker for my site which uses wordpress as a CMS.

  11. FurrTrap says:

    @Jens Brogaard

    You can make hierarchical categories with WP. Go to Admin > Manage > Categories. When you create a new category you can assign it to a parent category. There you have the beginnings of a tree structure.

    In sidebar.php how you code wp_list_categories() will determine if sub-categories are indented, displayed or not. The default is to display sub-categories. Play with parameters ‘hierarchical’ and ‘child_of’.

    Hope this helps.

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  13. Ozh says:

    Tags are really something I don’t understand why it went core. Seems to me that everybody feeling the need to use them was happy with plugins like UTW. And seems to me that a big majority was simply not using them.

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  16. Paul says:

    Nice explanation. I’m really looking forward to built-in tag support in WP 2.3. I like to have as few plug-ins as possible running in my WP installation.

  17. FurrTrap, you hit the nail on the head – thank you very much for the clarification.
    But… with the possibility of “tagging” one post to multiple categories it works (also) as a tag system (if you don’t make use of hierarchies). A true hierarchical system wouldn’t allow files/posts to be put in multiple folder/categories.

    The existent WP categories I would therefore coin ‘tag categories’ which are great to use for grouping tags since they tend to bloat. Without any apparent advantages I would take care of using the new tags especially considering there is no global tag list (for managing)…

  18. FurrTrap says:

    @Jens Brogaard & Ozh

    I guess we all have different points of view regarding the meaning of tag and category. But I think our overall aim is to make a WP weblog as informative as we can, by using tags and/or categories in a way that assists the reader to find what they want quickly.

    For me, I’m using categories as a thematic index, a broad stroke. When I start to use tags, it will be to provide much finer granularity, a more detailed index of article content that will probably span multiple categories.

    Well that’s the idea and I haven’t really looked at UTW yet, it’s supposed to offer strong tag management.

    One way or another, I’ll definitely use tags and categories together with the intention of making things as easy to find as possible.

    I think WP is a powerful and flexible system, especially with all the plugin authors about. So hopefully, it should satisfy all our diverse needs 🙂

  19. Les says:

    Great post, looking forward to the new WordPress 2.3

  20. John Money says:

    Great addition. Tags will help me organize things a heck of a lot better at my blog.


  21. Darran says:

    At the moment I am using categories with tags and it is really helping in users find my site easily on search engines. However I have 1 question with tags.

    What is the final variation of it?
    For e.g. I can have studies, study or studying. All of which mean the same thing, what is the kind of naming convention of tags which users look at? Is there any fixed one? Or which naming convention would you use in this case?

    Hope I can get some help here.

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  23. Running a pop culture website, we’re using categories as a broad stroke like DVD and Television and Reviews. Tags we use for things that can move across categories: for example, we have a bunch of posts that involve Vincent Price (as every site should). It doesn’t make sense to have a “Vincent Price” category, however, so we have a vincent-price tag. If you want to see all the posts with that tag, you can got to tag/vincent-price/ and be a happy camper.

    I’ve been very pleased with UTW but I agree that the less plugins the better, at least in my setup. I’m looking forward to playing with conversion to the built-in tags. I hope it doesn’t sting too much.

  24. Adam says:

    My question is why I want to use this vs. Ultimate Tag Warrior – which I have configured perfectly on my site.

    I’ve tagged hundreds of posts using that — will I lose all of those tags if I try to switch to the new tagging system? And will these tags help me SEO like Technorati tags do?

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  29. Hope I can get some help here.

  30. Waydomatic says:

    Thanks Dougal – this cleared a few things up for me.

    I’m still a bit fuzzy on a couple of things though…

    1. How do tags benefit *users*? Is it just another way for them to navigate a site?
    2. Is there any benefit for the *publisher* such as SEO? Does Technorati index tags for example?


  31. Dougal says:


    Tags benefit users by offering better in-site search options. In addition to providing more terms on which to search, the new tag API allows you to do ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ searches.

    And yes, there are SEO benefits, because the tags are indexed by Technorati and other services which can understand rel="tag" attributes. WordPress also puts reltag on categories, but again, we’re adding more keyword richness into the mix.

    I imagine that we’ll also start seeing more plugins which will allow you to mashup your own post tags with tags from other services. So you might be able to automagically insert photos from your Flickr photo stream with matching tags, or provide a list of related web pages from your Delicious tags or from a Technorati search.

  32. Personally, I prefer the hierarchical category structure. Perhaps, it is just how my theme is set up? But, I simply select only one category per post and the post is automatically included in all the categories above it.

    Tags as used in are just single word keywords. Doesn’t work out very well at all, IMHO. Doesn’t work well, as in I sure do waste a heck of a lot of time mucking about with tags. Using multiple word tags and bundles, helps somewhat.

    The problem with categories is that most bloggers are totally lacking in design skills.

  33. U! says:

    THX for explanation. Big number of category terms and tags can looks messy, but built-in tag systems in WordPress 2.3 is significant and the most wanted feature.

  34. Roma says:

    Anyone know if the tags provided by plugins like Ultimate Tag Warrior are compatible with WordPress 2.3 ?

  35. Fernstudium says:

    somebody knew the plugin for the tag cloud?

    regards paul

  36. mlankton says:

    I’m afraid to upgrade. I can’t remember which style sheets and php files outside my theme I’ve altered. 🙂

  37. Amaury says:

    If you search a plugin as like UTW for WordPress 2.3

    Use Simple Tags !

    Autocompletion, mass edit, etc.

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  39. Andi says:

    I’m thinking about switching from categories to tags – however I do have some concern that I’m going to produce hell of duplicated content and the searchengines will kick me out of the index. Does anyone have experience with this issue? Thx, Andi

  40. Owen says:

    I noticed Snakefoot’s response above a reference to 2.3 no longer allowing two subcategories with the same name. So if one has parent categories, say “Business” and “Fashion”, and within each of those has the subcategories of “writers”, “events” and “news”, does that mean 1/2 of these subcategories need to be renamed? This would seem a rather odd step backward for those heavily relient on categories in their cms. Can someone confirm this?

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  42. stars says:

    Mhh I’d like to start using tags to get listed in technorati but I’m hesitant because I think I might get hit with duplicate content penalties by Google …

  43. meik says:

    wow i didnt even notice there’s tags in wordpress 2.3

  44. tommy says:

    I need HELP!! Pardon me, but you have written down my thoughts exactly.

    “A while back, I started using my categories as tags. I create new categories on the fly, as seems fit. But I’ve gradually started to regret that decision. What I really wanted was to have both a category to specify the overall main theme for each post, and a set of tags to aid in searching.”

    So, when I first started using tags, I used UTW to turn the categories into tags. However, now my edit post screen STILL includes upwards of 70 categories. I never deleted them, just in case. Since WP23 now supports tags, there is no need for UTW, and I feel more confident that I don’t need as many categories… Care to give me all the steps I should take to not lose any tags while completing this transition? I plan to delete sub-subcategories, and use categories as a GENERAL category (as I believe is intended).

  45. Andi says:

    Coming back to my post from Oct28th. Does anyone have experience reagrdsing duplicated content? Thx

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  47. Marty says:

    @Andi- just ‘nofollow’ the tag links any anything else you don’t want the search engines to follow. Then don’t worry about the penalty. 😀

  48. Travis says:

    Snakefoot and Owen hit the nail on the head for me.

    WordPress is now at 2.6, and this is still broken.

    You cannot create a real hierarchy with categories, because it doesn’t take into consideration the parent.



    This is not possible. Unless I’m missing something?

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  51. Barbara says:

    Flashforward to WordPress 3.4, and they still haven’t addressed the problem of categories and hierarchy. I just normally work around this using pages, but is there any real solution to this? A good plugin for instance?

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