Modifying some of the taxonomies on my digital commonplace book

Spent a few minutes today cleaning up the various categories and tags within my digital commonplace book (aka website). Some of the automated methods I use as well as my general carelessness and fat fingers on mobile introduce spelling errors in some of these taxonomies. I also find that sometimes when choosing them from the pre-populated lists my website’s back end makes it more difficult to choose the canonical one when there are several there by error.

These issues tend to flatten these taxonomies out and make them much more difficult to search (or for others to be able to subscribe to reliably).

As an example, having tags “Domain of One’s Own” and “Domain of Ones Own” (with and without the apostrophe) as well as the acronym “DoOO” can be difficult or frustrating to use. Things get even more complicated when I hold the mental model that these concepts are just a sub-set of the broader idea of the “IndieWeb” or what I sometimes tag things as “IndieWeb for Education”. This is all much easier for me, but may be more difficult for newcomers to the site who know what one shorthand means, but are unaware of the others and thus miss details, references, or content that may have a lot of value for them.

I’ve cleaned up and concatenated many of these troublesome tags (roughly A-D alphabetically and other sections at random), but there’s still a lot of distance to go. There are 66 categories–some are hidden or used for programmatic purposes–and nearly 7,000 tags! The top 100 tags are used 30 or more times on the site and the second century of tags are used between 20 and 30 times each. At the long end of the tail there are about 4,000 tags with either 1 or no uses.

I’m promoting the economics tag to that of a category since it’s a topic in which I have a lot of interest and content. I also have a number of other tags related to sub-areas of economics. (If you were subscribed to this individual tag, you may want to fix your feed.) Other potential considerations for promotion included the topics of history, physics, and web development. I also noticed that there’s a tag for mathematics with 70 instances despite the fact that there’s already a category for it with 315 posts already–I’ll have to figure out how that happened and clean it up another day. And look, there’s somehow a tag for “math” too. Ugh!

I also put both the Quotes and Events categories under the parent category of Social Stream, though I plan on leaving them showing in the hierarchy–unlike some post kinds–as there are many legacy posts and likely future posts that aren’t just events I’m hosting, but events that are of interest to me in general. Naturally the more important events (to me) will appear in my RSVP posts. With any good luck courtesy of WordPress, links to the old versions should still work or redirect to the new hierarchy.

The manual or even automated effort of fixing or tweaking some of these things feels problematic, and I’m just looking at just my own website. I’m curious to delve into some research on taxonomies and folksonomies to see how something like this may be better systematized and/or automated. Of course categorizing things is somethings humans really love doing, but I’m not sure how deep down the rabbit hole it’s worth going for my own work. Besides, someone far smarter than I will likely crack the discovery nut from an IndieWeb perspective. Fortunately I can use the site search queries for several search engines to more quickly find the things I’m looking for without needing these taxonomies. So perhaps I’ll put some of the exercise off to another day by filing this in my tag.

📑 Collaborative resource curation |

Replied to Collaborative resource curation by Jon Udell (Hypothesis)
Recently we decided to keep better track of tweets, blog posts, and other web resources that mention and discuss our product. There are two common ways to do that: send links to a list maintainer, or co-edit a shared list of links. Here’s a third way, less common but arguably more powerful and flexible: tag the web resources in situ.

It isn’t rocket science, but as Jon indicates, it’s *incredibly *powerful.

I use my personal website with several levels of taxonomy for tagging and categorizing a variety of things for later search and research.

Much like the example of the Public Radio International producer, I’ve created what I call a “faux-cast” because I tag everything I listen to online and save it to my website including the appropriate <audio> link to the.mp3 file so that anyone who wants to follow the feed of my listens can have a playlist of all the podcast and internet-related audio I’m listening to.

A visual version of my “listened to” tags can be found at with the RSS feed at

👓 Collaborative resource curation | Hypothesis

Read Collaborative resource curation by Jon Udell (Hypothesis)
Recently we decided to keep better track of tweets, blog posts, and other web resources that mention and discuss our product. There are two common ways to do that: send links to a list maintainer, or co-edit a shared list of links. Here’s a third way, less common but arguably more powerful and flexible: tag the web resources in situ.

🔖 Rename Hypothesis tags

Bookmarked Rename Hypothesis tags (
This tool lists your Hypothesis tags, and enables you to rename one or more of them.

Please do make a safe copy your annotations first. And proceed with care. There's a kind of information loss that's possible unrelated to any technical malfunction. Suppose you are using three tags, A, B, and C, to classify annotations into three buckets. Then you rename B to C. Now bucket B is gone. There is only A, unchanged. and C, which includes what was in B. You can't reverse the arrow of entropy and reconstitute the set of annotations that were in B!

👓 Renaming Hypothesis tags | Jon Udell

Read Renaming Hypothesis tags by Jon UdellJon Udell (Jon Udell)
Wherever social tagging is supported as an optional feature, its use obeys a power law. Some people use tags consistently, some sporadically, most never. This chart of Hypothesis usage illustrates the familiar long-tail distribution: ...

Some ideas about tags, categories, and metadata for online commonplace books and search

Earlier this morning I was reading The Difference Between Good and Bad Tags and the discussion of topics versus objects got me thinking about semantics on my website in general.

People often ask why WordPress has both a Category and a Tag functionality, and to some extent it would seem to be just for this thing–differentiating between topics and objects–or at least it’s how I have used it and perceived others doing so as well. (Incidentally from a functionality perspective categories in the WordPress taxonomy also have a hierarchy while tags do not.) I find that I don’t always do a great job at differentiating between them nor do I do so cleanly every time. Typically it’s more apparent when I go searching for something and have a difficult time in finding it as a result. Usually the problem is getting back too many results instead of a smaller desired subset. In some sense I also look at categories as things which might be more interesting for others to subscribe to or follow via RSS from my site, though I also have RSS feeds for tags as well as for post types/kinds as well.

I also find that I have a subtle differentiation using singular versus plural tags which I think I’m generally using to differentiate between the idea of “mine” versus “others”. Thus the (singular) tag for “commonplace book” should be a reference to my particular commonplace book versus the (plural) tag “commonplace books” which I use to reference either the generic idea or the specific commonplace books of others. Sadly I don’t think I apply this “rule” consistently either, but hope to do so in the future.

I’ve also been playing around with some more technical tags like math.NT (standing for number theory), following the lead of While I would generally have used a tag “number theory”, I’ve been toying around with the idea of using the math.XX format for more technical related research on my site and the more human readable “number theory” for the more generic popular press related material. I still have some more playing around with the idea to see what shakes out. I’ve noticed in passing that Terence Tao uses these same designations on his site, but he does them at the category level rather than the tag level.

Now that I’m several years into such a system, I should probably spend some time going back and broadening out the topic categories (I arbitrarily attempt to keep the list small–in part for public display/vanity reasons, but it’s relatively easy to limit what shows to the public in my category list view.) Then I ought to do a bit of clean up within the tags themselves which have gotten unwieldy and often have spelling mistakes which cause searches to potentially fail. I also find that some of my auto-tagging processes by importing tags from the original sources’ pages could be cleaned up as well, though those are generally stored in a different location on my website, so it’s not as big a deal to me.

Naturally I find myself also thinking about the ontogeny/phylogeny problems of how I do these things versus how others at large do them as well, so feel free to chime in with your ideas, especially if you take tags/categories for your commonplace book/website seriously. I’d like to ultimately circle back around on this with regard to the more generic tagging done from a web-standards perspective within the IndieWeb and Microformats communities. I notice almost immediately that the “tag” and “category” pages on the IndieWeb wiki redirect to the same page yet there are various microformats including u-tag-of and u-category which are related but have slightly different meanings on first blush. (There is in fact an example on the IndieWeb “tag” page which includes both of these classes neither of which seems to be counter-documented at the Microformats site.) I should also dig around to see what Kevin Marks or the crew at Technorati must surely have written a decade or more ago on the topic.

cc: Greg McVerry, Aaron Davis, Ian O’Byrne, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Jeremy Cherfas

👓 How to Deliver Separate WordPress Category RSS Feeds | GreenGeeks

Read How to Deliver Separate WordPress Category RSS Feeds (GreenGeeks)
Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, is a common method for content marketing. Feeds are used to share your content with RSS readers of all kinds. For example, users can connect a WordPress custom RSS feed directly to their Netvibes accounts for the latest news. But what if you have categories...

Creating a tag cloud directory for the Post Kinds Plugin on WordPress

Yesterday after discovering it on Xavier Roy’s site I was reminded that the Post Kinds Plugin is built on a custom taxonomy and, as a result, has the ability to output its taxonomy in typical WordPress Tag Cloud widget. I had previously been maintaining/displaying a separate category structure for Kinds, which I always thought was a bit much in my category area. While it’s personally nice to have the metadata, I didn’t like how it made the categories so overwhelming and somehow disjointed.

For others who haven’t realized the functionality is hiding in the Post Kinds Plugin, here are some quick instructions for enabling the tag cloud widget:

  1. In the administrative UI, go to Appearance » Widgets in the menu structure.
  2. Drag the “Tag Cloud” widget to one of your available sidebars, footers, headers or available widget areas.
  3. Give the widget a title. I chose “Post Kinds”.
  4. Under the “Taxonomy” heading choose Kinds.
  5. If you want to show tag counts for your kinds, then select the checkbox.
  6. If necessary, select visibility if you want to create conditions for which pages, posts, etc. where the widget will appear.
  7. Finally click save.

You’ll end up with something in your widget area that looks something like this (depending on which Kinds you have enabled and which options you chose):

The tag cloud for the Post Kinds plugin data

If you’re interested in changing or modifying the output or display of your tag cloud, you can do so with the documentation for the Function Reference wp tag cloud in the WordPress Codex.