Otto on new post taxonomies: in essence, making things standard so we don’t have to customize them.

Assuming that I’m getting it. You can get it from Otto’s post here: Post types and formats and taxonomies, oh my! A long quote follows, but before we go there, I’d like to point out that (1) I don’t know if Otto is a first or last name or both – but, I’m going to play it safe and use New York Times styling and refer to him (I believe it’s a him) as “Mr.”  Otto. He’s one of the core WordPress authors who’s made it possible for people like me to blog (good for me – maybe not so good for the rest of the world), and also blogs at the wonderfully named “ottodestruct.com.”

Also – if you need more explanation of the post issue – Mark Jaquith’s post here should help. My current understanding is – that, all in all, it’s a good thing – but I’m still not sure what the new categories are. I’m beginning to suspect that it’s very obvious, and that I’ll be embarassed when it’s pointed out to me.

Without further delay, from Otto on WordPress:

Custom Post Formats and why you don’t need them

As soon as this was announced, naturally theme authors got up in arms, because theme authors are a rowdy bunch of folks. They like to do things their own way. So there was instantly the question of “how do I add my own format”? The answer is: you don’t, nor should you even think about it.

Why? Why prevent customization? Think of it from the perspective of the user:

  • They’ve got an existing set of posts.
  • Those posts have formats.
  • They switch to your theme, which uses some custom formats.
  • Now their own posts don’t display properly with the new theme, because it’s using a whole different set of formats.
  • Bad user experience, that is.

Now, from the perspective of a theme author, I understand the reasoning here. You want to be able to display things differently.

The problem is that you were already able to do that before.

Custom taxonomies have been around a long time. All you had to do was to a) create a custom taxonomy (call it “mytheme_formats”), b) allow users to sort posts into your taxonomy, and c) display things differently in the theme based on the terms in that taxonomy.

Post Formats is just a taxonomy. It’s a set of adjectives, describing the nouns that are the posts. So now we have “aside posts” and “gallery posts” and “chat posts” and “video posts” and so on. If you want to make your own formats, then you’ve had that ability forever. Why have you not already used it?

The answer to why you didn’t do it before is because there was no standard set of formats.

Without a standard set to work with, users won’t have any idea what your formats mean. You have to write documentation. You have to educate the user. You have to explain what this weirdness in your theme is.

Post formats changes that. Now you have a standard set of formats, and the user, having used other themes that support those formats too, will have some idea of what they mean already. But in order for this to work, themes must all use the same basic formats. There has to be a standard set of adjectives to describe the posts.

If you want to create your own set, then create your own taxonomy and box to have your set in it. But don’t complain when users don’t understand why your theme’s formats don’t mesh with the formats of every other theme that does support them.

The point of standards is to be standard. You don’t have to support the standard, but you also will have to deal with the consequences of being non-standard.

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