Categories and tags for authorities

Use tags to arrange authorities into categories, or to associate related authorities with each other. This helps your users find the right authority for the request (or response) they are interested in.

Categories & category headings

Admin interface introduced in Alaveteli version 0.20

Alaveteli lets you organise your authorities into categories. Categories can themselves belong to category headings. For example, some of the categories and headings on WhatDoTheyKnow’s View authorities page look like this:

  • Media and culture
    • Media
    • Museums and galleries
  • Military and security services
    • Armed Forces
    • Military colleges
    • Security services
  • Emergency services
    • Police forces
    • Fire & rescue services

In this example, “Emergency services” is a heading which contains the categories “Police forces” and “Fire & rescue services”.

Tags are simply searchable words that you can add to an authority. Nominate a tag for each category: any authority which has that tag is automatically assigned to the category. For example, if the tag police is associated with the category “Police forces”, any authority which has the tag police will appear in that category.

Make sure you choose good category headings and names, because they help your users find the specific authorities they are looking for.

Try to use simple but descriptive words for tags. Tags cannot contain spaces (use an underscore if you need to, like_this). Remember that tags will be seen and used by the public (for example, in the advanced search).

Adding a new category

In the admin interface, click on Categories. It’s a good idea to create category headings first (but don’t worry if you don’t — you can change them later).

Click on New category heading, enter a name (for example, “Emergency services”) and click Create.

To create a category, click on New category. As well as providing a title and a description, you must enter a category tag. Any authority with this tag will be assigned to this category.

Select the checkbox next to the category heading under which you want this category to be listed. It’s common for a category to be under just one heading. But sometimes it makes sense for a category to go under more than one, so you can select multiple checkboxes if you need to.

Click Save to create the category.

Editing or deleting a category

Click on Categories then find the category in the list (if the category is under a heading, you may need to click on the heading’s chevron to expand the list to show it). Click the name of the category to select it. You can edit it and click Save.

If you want to destroy a category, go to edit it but instead of saving it, click on the Destroy button at the bottom of the page. This does not delete any authorities in that category — they simply no longer belong to it.

Special tags

Some tags are special. Alaveteli behaves differently when an authority has one of these tags.

Tag Effect
site_administration This is a test/dummy authority. It is not displayed to the public on your main site, and it is not included when you export authorities in CSV format.
defunct This authority no longer operates: new requests cannot be sent to an authority with this tag.
not_apply Freedom of Information law does not apply to this authority: new requests cannot be sent to an authority with this tag.
eir_only Custom example: (see below)
On our UK installation of Alaveteli, WhatDoTheyKnow, this tag indicates that the authority is subject to an alternative law (Environment Information Regulations, rather than the Freedom of Information), which means Alaveteli must change the wording of these requests appropriately.
school Custom example: (see below)
WhatDoTheyKnow applies a different definition of "late" if an authority has the school tag.

Custom tags and custom behaviour

You can add any tag you want — they don’t have to be associated with categories.

If you are a developer, and you want to add special behaviour to your site based on your own tags, you need to add custom code, which should probably go in your own theme. For example, in the UK, schools are granted special concession in the law to allow for requests that are made out of term-time. WhatDoTheyKnow handles this by using a custom LateCalculator. See for the source code.

Searching with tags

Alaveteli’s advanced search feature (which is available to all your users) can search for specific tags. So if you add useful tags and publicise them, your users can use them to find related authorities. For example, see the advanced search on WhatDoTheyKnow to see this at work.

You can add reference numbers or specific values to tags using a colon. On WhatDoTheyKnow we tag all authorities that are charities with the tag charity:123456 (where 123456 is the authority’s registered charity number).