WordPress: Dexter

  By Shamus   Nov 2, 2007   16 comments

I’ve been eyeing Dexter, the latest version of WordPress. Fledge has had some problems with it, though.

He makes the point that categories and tags are somewhat redundant. I think that’s true in some cases, but I think this blog is a good example of where both could be useful. I often do “series” of posts, and I always have to manually link to other posts in the series. For example, I don’t want to create a new category for every new videogame or anime I cover, but each one takes up several posts spread out over a couple of weeks, and I’d love for readers to be able to check out the entire series if they show up in the middle. Bioshock. Fullmetal Alchemist. Quake 4. It would be super great if I could tag each series, those tags would appear automatically, and if it wouldn’t break my blog, make a mess, or take forever in the process.

Sure, users could search the blog for the series they’re interested in, but that’s not the same as having the link at the end of the post. Plus, searches will return posts that contain stuff like, “I liked this game almost as much as I liked Jade Empire”, which doesn’t really have any information on Jade Empire. In fact, a sentence like that sort of assumes you’ve already read my stuff on Jade Empire.

Fledge mentions the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin, which I used. Once. For about an hour. It was painfully slow. I don’t know why. I didn’t try to debug it, I just shut it off. I’m not knocking the plugin, many people like and enjoy it. But for whatever reason, page loads took about five seconds when the plugin was active.

So, a little discussion:

Do you find tags useful on other blogs? Do you use them? Ignore them? Did you ever wish I had tags here?

And a tangent: Anyone else have problems with Dexter?


1624 comments. (That's 10 in Hexadecimal.)


  1. scragar says:

    Do you find tags useful on other blogs?
    Mostly not, unless I’m actually trying to catch up on something I missed, then they are your best friends.

    Did you ever wish I had tags here?
    Back when I started to read your stuff here I did miss not being able to hop around, but now I’ve read almost everything you’ve written, so I don’t need them.

    unrelated question: why is the Anti-spam word always the same?

  2. Shamus says:

    scragar: The anti-spam word works even when it’s the same every time. Just having it there is enough to repel most spambots.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Tags are used on Livejournal, and they seem to work pretty well with organization. (I, of course, use them to make cheap jokes.)

  4. Ingvar says:

    I use tags (occasionally) on my blog, I do find it useful for what I use them for (effectively to categorize a subset of posts). No automatic link saying “previous post with tag TAG, though.

  5. Hermes says:

    Yeah, it’d be handy in a series of posts. And for, say, adding to an opinion given months ago. I’m not much into coding, but so far as user-friendliness goes, I’m all for it!

  6. Phlux says:

    I’m a big fan of tags on blogs that have a lot of transient readership. If I find a post in a google search that contains some relevant information, and I want to dig for more under the surface, tags can be helpful.

    Also, I’m a fan of metadata in general. Even if you don’t use the tags a lot, and people don’t much care if they’re around, you might consider adding them, at least in the background, just because 5 years from now if you’re still running this site, it will be much easier to organize content.

    Users can do cool stuff with tags also. There’s tons of cool flickr plugins that do wierd stuff with tags.

    Penny Arcade doesn’t tag their stuff, and look what has happened. An entire tagging community has popped up to tag their data FOR them, to make it easier to search comic archives via a firefox plugin or their website. It’s called Penny Packer.

  7. I intend to follow up with a post about the difference between taxonomy (how tags are used in WordPress/Dexter) and folksonomy (how tags are used in del.ico.us, digg, etc). In a nutshell though WordPress does tags corrcetly from a technical standpoint but horribly from a semantic standpoint. Until WP fixes this – and really it’s an easy fix, I wonder if it could be done via plugin, if there are any WPO hackers reading this then drop me a line – we might as well bite the bullet and use the tag functionality that WP now provides out of the box.

    I see two main options:
    1. go whole hog. Make everything a tag. After all, cats are just tags with less functionality.

    2. do teh ardous and tedious work involve in choosing “high level” topics for my cats (“Anime”) and choose “fine-grained” topics for my tags (“Haibane Renmei”, Sugar”, “Gedo Senki”, etc.).

    The advantage of 2 is that it makes organizational sense. But the advantage of 1 is that its much easier. Esp since I am at 429 posts and counting.

    Of course, while I am paralyzed with indecision, I am really just defaulting to Option 3: do nothing. Stay with cats, with minimal tags if any. This of course is teh status quo which has worked just fine for me until now.

    At any rate, Shamus, I do recommend you upgrade. Even if you dont use the tags, you still are getting teh security fix benefits at least.

  8. Shamus says:

    Fledge: I look forward to that post. I’m still not understanding the differences of how the different tag systems are used, and why WP tags are less desireable than other systems.

  9. Strangeite says:

    Just my two cents, but I don’t use tags on my blog and don’t think I have ever used tags on anyone else’s blog. I don’t have a problem with them, but have never found them particularly useful. In fact, I would go so far to say that my mind blocks out tags.

  10. Alexis says:

    I love tags. What I hate is how you never seem to be able to select multiple tags at once. That limits them to be nonexclusive boxes, when they could be so much more.

    re: auto tagging, you could compromise the English-ness of your post format slightly for machine readability. Then it’s a simple matter of coding to automagically turn “Full.Metal.Alchemist” into a taglink with text “Full Metal Alchemist” and tag the post too. This approach has the demi-advantage you can sometimes talk about FMA without activating the magic.

  11. Taelus says:

    I can see the need for tags if pretty much every post is going to be part of a series. Oddly, I’m mostly ambivalent about them being used here. Only some of your posts are actually part of a series and even if they are, the series tends to be short, 3-4 posts at maximum. They tend to make up the majority of the posts in that category during their run, so finding the previous versions isn’t hard at all.

    Anyway, I guess my vote is that if you like them, go for it, and if you don’t want to muck about with a new version of WP or a plug-in, I doubt there will be any harm to the readership over it.

    For reference, I don’t use them, but that’s mostly just because I don’t have enough technical knowledge of WP or coding to figure them all out. I could probably self-learn it, but really, I have Le Grange equations to solve and that leaves me with precious little time :-)

  12. Ryan Speck says:

    No problems with Dexter here.

    Though I find tags pretty much useless.

  13. Phlux says:

    Alexis: That’s my most common complaint about tagging systems as well. Authors on many blogging systems are able to multi-tag a post. It might be filed under two or three different headings, but the searches for tags almost never allow you to look for more than one tag at a time.

    Maybe I’m only interested in the posts labeled both “video games” AND “coding”, not just one or the other.

    This isn’t a problem with the tags per se, just with the search mechanisms on most blogging systems.

  14. actually, in dexter you can search for tag unions and intersections via the URL:

    domain.com/tag/tag1+tag2 (intersection)
    domain.com/tag/tag1,tag2 (union)

  15. dagnabit says:

    I completely expected this to be your take on the excellent tv show, and was sorely disappointed to discover otherwise. :(

  16. KIC says:

    I *love* tags. Maybe more on other people’s blogs than mine. Especially one of my blog is really “misc” and it hasn’t fixed topics as such. Well, nothing that couldn’t be better understood as a category anyways.

    The way the last version of WordPress handled tags was very slow and complicated (especially when you’re not exactly sure about the wording you’ve used previously on a tag: it plays a role when the language you write is full of compound words and you write about something that hasn’t terms that everyone uses). I hope WordPress will move towards the way UTW works. It has a list where you can click a tag to attach it to the post you’re currently writing.

    Oh and tag cloud. I haven’t put much tought on that, but I hate the way it shows (in WordPress’s own tagging system) by default. I just want the tags to form a list with post counts. How hard can it be?

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