A few months ago I read this thought-provoking blog post on taxonomies – categories, subcategories and tags – and how best to set them up for a personal blog with a diverse range of topics (its author, apparently, facing a similar quandary to me!). I came back to it a couple of weeks ago, as I’d come to be a bit frustrated with my own taxonomic set-up. It felt like I had some categories with barely any posts, others with loads, and some posts that didn’t fit into any of my existing categories. I won’t say I’ve completely evened things out, but I have made some improvements 😃
It’s worth noting from the beginning that I don’t expect my system to be completely elegant. It feels a bit clumsy to have “Articles” and “Photos” as categories, for example, when these aren’t really subject matters but formats for posts. However, the main reason I have them is to give people a way to browse only articles or only photos – which this achieves just fine – and this way I also don’t have to have a rump grouping called “notes” which is just posts without photos that aren’t articles. And I have the flexibility to file, say, an article with photos in it as both! So, while it might seem a little clumsy (and I’m forever forgetting to add the “Articles” category to those posts that are, in fact, articles 🤭), I think overall this works fine.
The two main things I wanted to achieve by tinkering with my categories were:
- Every post should fit into at least one category.
- For some of my very low-volume categories, if I could fold them into a larger category in a way that made intuitive sense, I wanted to.
As of a bit over a week ago, I accomplished my first goal. I created a new “Sport” category (I’d previously had a “sport” tag, but not all of the posts in that tag had a natural home category, so I upgraded it to a category), and I created a category called “Quite Interesting”, a label borrowed from the guy whose post I linked in paragraph #1 and ultimately from the British quiz show. I felt like this category was a good demonstration of my second goal, because it really is a collection of posts that could belong to different categories – some Science, some Geography, some History, etc. – but if I made individual categories for each of them they’d all be pretty low-volume (except maybe History). What unified all these posts is that they’re all kind of “fun fact”, “today I learned” sorts of posts, so I figured they all actually fit quite well alongside each other. To that end, I also added the “Quite Interesting” label to a couple of my “Languages” posts that also had this vibe (“Languages” otherwise being a category that I do think I write about enough to warrant it having its own category), and voilà. In the end, I’m really pleased with the coherence of this new category.
There is definitely more tinkering I could do – for example, I’m thinking about merging my “urban planning” tag into my “Transport” category, and giving that a broader name to match (“City Design”? But what if I one day post about a higher level of planning? I thought about “Nation Building”, as a Utopia reference, but I feel like that sounds too grandiose if you don’t know the reference…) – but until I work out a good name for the merged category, separate they shall remain. I’m also thinking about my tag taxonomy, and wondering if I can do something more with it to better justify its existence in addition to categories… but that one’s a topic for another day 🙂 In the meantime, at least I can feel a bit more satisfied with my categories.