01 December 2006

To Label or Not to Label?

Blogger is going to push all of us users into its second-generation "Beta" format soon. (I think the pun of "Beta Blogger" would have been more amusing if "beta" didn't already mean "software that offers a lot of bugs in exchange for the thrill of being the first person in the world to have it shut down your computer in that particular way.")

One of the real advantages of the Beta format is that it includes the chance to assign "labels" to every posting. Outside Blogger, those are called "tags," and some blogging programs have had them for quite a while. They're useful for designating and finding all postings about, say, movies or Susan Cooper or Button-Bright.

I shifted my other blog, Boston 1775, to Beta last month in order to take advantage of tagging. But that's a different type of blog, and I'm not sure labels will be as useful here. I checked out some of the Blogger users on the Oz and Ends blogroll, and most don't seem to use labels--but perhaps they would if they could.

So my thinking about labels has boiled down to--

Con: The search function still works.
Pro: It's not as efficient for users as labels.

Con: I'd have to go back and add labels to 200+ entries.
Pro: If I decide in another three months that labels are a Good Thing after all, I'd have to go back and add labels to 300+ entries.

Con: I'd have to find a place to put the labels; on Boston 1775, that meant hacking the Blogger template to create three columns, learning quirks of XML and Blogger's "widgets" programming on the fly.
Pro: Stick the labels down below the links, stupid! If most people don't need them, then it won't matter if they don't see them right away.

Any comments? Preferences? Inner wisdom? Experience to share with tags/labels on your own blogs?


Nancy said...

I just started using Labels and I like it a lot. Also I'm finding that some of my readers are making use of them, which is also good.

I haven't gone back through all 400 posts to label them, but I went back for some things. Eventually I'll try to go back for more, but in the meantime, I'm using it on new posts and that still seems helpful.

Note, you don't have to put the labels in your sidebar. Some of mine are, some aren't. As long as the post has a label, the reader can click on that and get the same thing they'd get from the sidebar. So for instance, I do daily quote posts, which I don't think deserve a sidebar spot.

It's your real estate. You can build whatever you like. Isn't that fun?

PJ Librarian said...

I am all for new things and change, but I am also usually the last to do it because of all the quirks still in the system. When looking at sites for those using Blogger's Beta now I get some weird messages from time to time. As for tags, they are useful, but not worth going back to the old post at least for me. I agree with nancy in that you make it what you want it is your site. If you have something particular to be easily accessed go for those and forget the rest.