Category Conundrums Two Deep

(TheLoneCuber) #1

I’ve just read two hours worth of tag and categories conundrums on, and I’m still struggling with a solution to fit my use case: one that works for the users and for my sanity.

The site revolves around local cycling communities and all aspects of cycling: recreation, racing, bike shops, etc. The “local community” part really defines the site and intends to be a way to following your local cycling community. For example, Sydney, Melbourne, London will have their own communities. So the cities seems the obvious choice for top-level categories, but given the one subcategory level of Discourse, sweet category love seems but a pipe dream.

For example, Sydney could work well as its own category, allowing Sydney-siders to follow the entire local cycling scene, or just niches [sub-categories] of it, without being exposed to the local cycling scenes in far-away places like London. Here’s how Sydney could easily work…


And Melbourne could be categorised and subbed in the same way.


And likewise for London.


But it quickly becomes apparent that cities should sit inside a country category otherwise top-level category creep will be huge, and because there’s the duplicate city-name issue like Newcastle (there’s one in Australia and England). Also — importantly — I want to geo-target the different regions via Google Webmaster Tools, which could be done for each city individually, but would be much simpler under a single top-level country category like /c/au/ and /c/us/.

So… I could use country/city as the category/subcategory and easily geo-target the category, except then I loose all the community niches because I can only sub-category 1 deep.


So a country-city hybrid top-level could defuse the duplicate city issue, still work with GWMT (albeit painfully), and retain the niche sub-cats…


Except now I’m still stuck with the inevitable top-level category creep because there are quite some cities in the World.

So is @lightyear’s Tag plugin the answer? I think it could be, except for one thing: Discourse doesn’t display tag labels on category pages in the same manner it does category labels on tag pages.

Using Sitepoints HTML category for example, if users following the HTML page could see the tag label, wouldn’t that benefit to everyone? I actually expect to see labels there because labels live there on so many Discourse pages (Top page, Latest page, a tag page), and it gives an inconsistent feel that they’re not present on category pages. I know multi-tagging would cause grief with the limited space available, but have the tag labels on category pages been discussed or considered? I know it would it would solve my riddle, and I’d be interested to hear @HAWK’s thoughts on this.

If tag labels were displayed, I could use /c/country/city as the category and sub-category and use tags for the niches. Given tags are admin-moderated, I can ensure their exclusivity. This would allow users to also click the tag label to see all the threads outside their city and country which relate to their /sub-category of interest.

/c/au/sydney [page shows tag labels [rodies], [fixies], [bike shops]

It does break down here thought because I would expect clicking the “rodies” tag on the Sydney subcategory page to show me /c/au/sydney/roadies but I still think tags labels showing is better than no tags labels, and the tag label linking-out to the global tag scene might not be a bad option at all.

Below is a screenshot of my very-pooly photoshopped tag labels proposal on a Sitepoint category page

Filter topic with specific tag inside single category
(Mittineague) #2

That might work as long as there is only one Tag Shown. It would get very crowded for a topic if it had more than one tag.


Tagging (on our site) needs so much love. At the moment it is unintuitive and not well utilised.
Your mock up there makes a lot of sense in a 1-1 tag-topic scenario, but that won’t work for us.

I see your issue here and I suspect it will become a fairly common one.
I’ll think on it with you.

(TheLoneCuber) #4

@HAWK: Thanks for your feedback and thoughts. In this particular instance it’s a roadblock-to-Discourse-adoption because I’m trying to migrate an existing community into Discourse, and it’s common to have more than one sub-category in online communities/websites. Sometimes they’re warranted. In saying that, I appreciate how Discourse’s has forced me to flat-category more. But without the Tag Labels I can’t see how to work around the Discourse one-sub-cat way.

@Mittineague: Yep I had considered that and recognise that columm space could be an issue, and mutli-tags messy.

  1. If @lightyear’s Tag plugin allow admins to set the number of permitted tags(?) I’ll simply set it to 1 tag only, and structure my tags precisely. In my use case there are two topic distinctions: geography and niche. Using geography for category structure and tags for niche structure looks like it would work nearly perfectly.
  2. If the Tag plugin doesn’t allow you to set the tags to 1 per post, could Discourse display only 1 tag in the column (as per mock image)? I’m not sure of techs on it, nor if it would list the first alphabetically or by popularity, or other.

A few extra thoughts on the Tag Labels on Category Page idea …

  1. Would restricting tags to 1 per topic force users to tag how we want them to tag — with consideration?
  • Maybe the blame for the bad tagging outcomes in days and platforms gone by should be lifted from the users’ understanding of them and placed on shoulders of the platforms proving them?

  • If categories create walls and divide communities (as per @codinghorror), wouldn’t tags labels on category pages knock down said walls and provide an instant gateway to the greater communities? I know my use case is just one, but it certainly would for me (and many/any “local community style” of Discourses). I think it’s a really important point to recognise that the tag label links a closed community to the global community of the tag. Isn’t this exactly what we want tags to do? For me that would allow a user who follows the Sydney category /c/au/sydney to stay gated to their community (avoiding excess noise) and still stay connected to the greater community. They will see only Sydney-category topics, and only associated tags, but they’re only every one click away from the entire world of [that tag].

  • @codinghorror said 5 tags on SO was about 3 too many. Let’s take it to the next level and try 1 Tag Discourse!

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #5

I think this is a very valid use case for tags. I’ll add some ideas and mockups of my own in a separate thread.

The redundant display of the category column when you’ve already drilled down into a category has been a topic of debate before. I’m happy to see this revisited.

And I also completely agree that clicking tags could be context-sensitive. Clicking on the [fixies] tag inside of /c/au/sydney should strictly show topics with that tag within that category, but you could easily expand it to all categories via the Category drop-down.