[development] Renaming "taxonomy" terminology? (was Re: Early Drupal 6 review from Chris Messina)

Anton anton.list at gmail.com
Wed Nov 14 20:26:16 UTC 2007

On 15/11/2007, Derek Wright <drupal at dwwright.net> wrote:
> [snipped good stuff]
> Finally, I agree with the last few comments in this thread that the
> biggest usability problem was the (IMHO foolish) decision to say
> "taxonomy is too scary, let's inconsistently refer to it as
> 'categories' in some places in the UI".

Thank you Derek for exactly summing up my thoughts on the matter. The
original change away from taxonomy was a reaction to a few belligerent
forum posters at the time I seem to recall.

These 'problems' aren't fixed by changing the terminology to more
overloaded words - it just adds more confusion, especially when
inconsistently applied throughout the community and legacy content.

+1 for sticking with term. tags and categories are both synonyms, but
elsewhere they possibly have different mental models and assumptions
about how they work or what they do - eg a category is something you
put things into (almost a parent container relationship) while a tag
is a name you attach to something (lightweight metadata in a way).
Drupal terms can handle both of those concepts (although tagging is
possibly the better description of what happens under the hood), so
renaming to one or the other will only confuse those whose mental
models matched the other name.

The main confusion I see around the concept of vocabs isn't to do with
their naming at all (they are a collection of terms after all). It is
more that some people expect them to be a concrete concept rather than
an abstract one - ie they want their vocab to act like a top level
term that they can do things with. That is just a matter of education
in my opinion.

Changing the UI reference back to taxonomy would make it more
consistent and help the user make sense of the online help and
info/modules on drupal.org. The word 'taxonomy' is as much a part of
Drupals culture as 'node', and I think we should embrace it. Not only
that, but changing it back to taxonomy in the UI would be the easiest
option in any consistency and unification effort.

I thing I have just noticed is that the online help for the taxonomy
module doesn't seem as explanatory as it was in the 4.4 days when I
last read it. But it does link to the handbooks and the handbooks are
much better these days.

Anton (styro at drupal.org)

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