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Tweaking the Blog Settings

You may have noticed that there have been some minor changes to the sidebar on the right side of the blog. I’ve talked with a few folks and subsequently we’ve taken out some of the features we used to have in that space in order to (we hope) streamline things a bit.

One of the core features of WordPress, the blogging system behind both the Commons and the digital platform we’re building as part of the Title V grant, is multiple ways to get at content. For example, if you’re looking for a particular post or comment, you can scroll down through the posts on the blog’s homepage or click on the Calendar links to view posts by date.

I also wanted to write a bit about Categories and Tags. These are additional organizational/navigational options common to many blogging systems. I’ve heard Dan describe Categories as a Table of Contents and Tags as an Index (if I can take the words out of your mouth, Dan!), which gets at their navigational relationship. On the organizational side of things (and because I am a librarian) I think of Categories as broad subjects, like the Subject Headings in a library catalog, whereas Tags are more like keywords.

Here’s an example that I hope makes things more concrete: for this post I’ll choose Blogging as a Category (from the list that appears on the right side of the Add a New Post screen), but I’ve tagged this post usability, documentation, support, and navigation.

(Please let me know if this is still unclear — I talk about ways to organize information with students in the library’s Research and Documentation course, and I’m always in search of better ways to explain these somewhat complex topics.)

Both Categories and Tags can be useful for organizing and navigating content on the blog, but again, you can feel free to use either or both — whichever works best for you.

Please let us know what you think about these sidebar changes, and if you have any questions or suggestions for the blog. I’m available to discuss the blog in small groups or one-on-one — please drop me a line if you’d like to meet. Soon I’ll also browse through the WordPress/BuddyPress support and documentation available here on the Academic Commons and will pull out the most relevant to share with our group.

About Maura A. Smale

Maura Smale is Chief Librarian at City Tech (New York City College of Technology), CUNY.
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4 Responses to Tweaking the Blog Settings

  1. Thanks, Maura, for making changes that I hope will create less noise and more points of entry for us on the sidebar. I’m especially interested in thinking about the categories and tags. Before this semester, I always used categories but never tags on my course blogs. When I learned that authors could add tags to their posts, I was interested in trying to incorporate them, since only administrators can add categories. I’ve been largely duplicating one in the other for my posts, trying to add as much to help us organize ourselves as possible. I can see, though, that fewer categories and more tags would be a useful way to go, in that we have certain types of posts, but many, many different ideas addressed in them, thus the need for categories to be broad but rigid and tags to be more specific and ever-expanding. Even though we had discussed this before, it became much clearer to me when we sat together and discussed the blog and then when I read your post. Ah, the value of collaborative learning and peer-led blog edification. Tag that!

    [PS–speaking of, is there any way to tag in comments?]

  2. Hmm, that’s a good question! I looked through the plugins and did a quick google search and haven’t found anything — let me ask on the WordPress Help group.

  3. Mark Schiebe says:

    Hi Maura and Jody,
    how do I start a new thread??

  4. Hi Mark, to start a new post here on the blog, click the Dashboard link on the gray navbar at the top of this page, then on the Dashboard screen click the Add New button on the left side under Posts. Enter your post title and text into the fields in the middle of the screen, give the post a few tags if you’d like, and click the blue Publish button on the right to publish your post to the blog.

    Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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