May 172010

When I first started using WordPress to construct this website, it had “categories” and not “tags”. Since then, I have tried to improve my use of categories and tags have come along to add another complication to the fray. I have now finally reached a system that I really like.

One of the difficulties of a personal website (as opposed to a blog on a specific topic) is that there is such a variety of post types. Sometimes the site becomes a little soap-box where essays can be delivered. Other times, it is a news feed to keep family and friends updated about exciting travel activities. It is also a valuable way to store and share helpful tricks and insights.

So I have now culled my category list down to six distinct topics, and a seventh “uncategorised” overflow pigeonhole. Within these broad categories, posts are further grouped by tags. It is possible to browse posts by category, or by tag. While I’m not claiming that this sort of organising strategy is anything new or unique, I think it is finally a functional way to hold this site together.

I have also revamped this site visually and under the bonnet. Here are some of the more technical details.

There are times when I need more space for a wide post (such as for this embedded interactive map with geotagged photos). To do this, I created a “Without sidebar” category and then told my wordpress to leave out the sidebar for any post in this category. After reorganising, I didn’t want this category to feature in my condensed list.

I was able to exclude it by modifying the category widget section of the file wp-includes/default-widgets.php to replace the line

$cat_args = array('orderby' => 'name', 'show_count' => $c, 'hierarchical' => $h);


$cat_args = array('orderby' => 'name', 'show_count' => $c, 'hierarchical' => $h, 'exclude' => '27');

(where 27 is the number of my “Without sidebar” category). I found the details for this here, but had to work out how to apply them to my situation.

Another thing that has changed since I started this site is the incorporation of my RSS feeds into other online social environments. My posts here get imported to my Facebook profile as notes, and they also get pulled in as Buzzes with Google. Both these locations allow people to comment on my writing there rather than here, but I would prefer people to participate in the conversation here. This website is visible and accessible to people without requiring them to create a profile and log on.

I have found a wordpress plugin that will add a “signature” to my RSS feeds. If it works properly, my posts here that get displayed elsewhere will have a little comment encouraging readers to join the conversation on the original post.

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