For some time I’ve wanted to improve upon the ‘category’ system I’ve made use of here on the blog, and yesterday I found out a way to do it as I became aware of the existence of wordpress’ ‘category cloud’-gadget after messing around a bit with the blog settings. So I added the cloud gadget and now you can see a category cloud in the sidebar.

When I implemented the cloud I realized that my categories were really off in terms of what this blog is about – there were terms like ‘comics’ and ‘fun’ in that cloud of most used categories, and although I do consider myself to be a funny guy when it suits me, well, there aren’t actually that many posts of that kind here… Some of the most used categories were basically categories dealing with stuff I hadn’t written about in years. Mostly this was because I’ve not really been very focused on using the categories optimally as they haven’t really been all that relevant to anything – with the implementation of the sidebar cloud the relevance of them certainly increased.

So as a result of this change, I have made some changes to many posts on this blog as I have re-categorized them in order for the cloud to better reflect what’s going on on this site and make it more useful as a blog navigation tool. Before I added the cloud I had a category list but people have basically pretty much never used that at all to navigate the blog, so I’ve removed that tool from the sidebar and replaced it with the cloud; I hope this change will make it easier to navigate the site and allow people to better find the types of posts they’re most interested in. I also hope it may make it easier for newcomers to the site to figure out quickly and painlessly what this blog is about, without them having to spend a great deal of time and effort exploring it.

The re-categorization stuff I’ve done has meant that instead of having wikipedia posts in the archive dealing with historical topics, physics, math and psychology-related topics being categorized under ‘wikipedia’, such posts will now have multiple categories and will now be categorized under: ‘wikipedia’, ‘history’, ‘physics’, ‘mathematics’, and ‘psychology’. A medical textbook will now be categorized under both ‘books’ and ‘medicine’, instead of just being filed under ‘books’. Some new categories have been introduced to the mix, some have been retired, quite a few have become much more common than they used to be. The changes I’ve made probably means that some people using various types of feeds to keep track of the activities that are going on on this blog may have had a lot of old posts pop up again – I recall being told that something similar happened last time I made major adjustments to the blog. I think I’ve made most of the changes I’m going to make at this point, but I’m not really sure if I’ll not be tempted to go through the archives over the next days and perhaps make some more adjustments. If you find another bombardment of old posts from this site to your feed to be annoying you might consider turning it off for a little while, although I think I have made at least most of the changes I’m going to make at this point.

As a little sidenote, I have myself been somewhat happy about my decision to make this change as it’s also made it easier for me to figure out which types of topics I’ve actually blogged on this site – or at least it’s given me some idea. With much more than 1000 posts spread out over some years now, I didn’t really have much of an overview either when I started out the re-categorization process yesterday. You can always argue about the categories being applied and whether or not they’re ‘accurate’ and I’m not sure I’ve given this topic sufficient thought; what I am sure of, however, is that I consider the current state of affairs to be much preferable to the system it has replaced. I hope the readers will share this sentiment.

Lastly I want to thank gwern – whom I hope is reading along here – for linking to me on Hacker News yesterday; quite a few people visited my blog as a consequence of that link, and some of them I could tell (from the stats information) found the topic covered in that post to be interesting.

May 27, 2014 - Posted by | meta


  1. What a coincidence — I was browsing through your archives today and re-read the post that gwern posted on HN. (I was not aware that he did so.) It was indeed a very good post; unfortunately it didn’t gain much traction on HN.

    Thanks for being such a conscientious curator of the contents on your blog — the quality is consistently high and I have benefited a significant amount by reading your stuff. I hope that you will keep up the good work, provided that you also derive a lot of pleasure from continuing to blog at your current pace.

    Comment by Manfred Bühler | May 27, 2014 | Reply

    • “the quality is consistently high”

      Obviously you haven’t spent much time digging through my archives…

      I’m partly jesting, but only partly. I did spend some time doing just this over the last couple of days, and well…

      It took me a lot of time to get the blog to where it is today – I don’t think one can persuasively argue that I’m not a much better writer now than I used to be. But if the quality is consistently high now, at least that’s something.

      Thank you for your kind feedback, it is much appreciated.

      Comment by US | May 27, 2014 | Reply

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