Is there a downside to using a single note type with only tags for organisation?

One of my goals in 2023 is to do less reading and more processing of what I have read, by using Obsidian (which I have been using superficially as a dump for information for maybe a year) to ask myself questions or write concise summaries, and creating links between notes over time.

To this end I am wondering what the best way to approach the organisation of these notes - a perennial and subjective topic, I know! This thread holds some ideas, but unlike the OP I do not hate front matter, and while I want to reduce friction I am not wedded to a minimalist approach.

I am thinking of a single note format with YAML, as follows.

date created: → automatic from template
alias: → not always required
source: → default to ‘self’
author: → maybe default to ‘self’ here also
type: → omit and use tags instead?
status: → maybe something like ‘active’, ‘waiting’, ‘finished’, ‘backburner’, ‘archived’
tags: → instead of a ‘type’ field, use tags like ‘article’, ‘book’, ‘contact’, ‘recipe’, ‘PARA/project’, and ‘poem’?

I would still want to include different text in the body of the note (e.g. questions for journaling, or book summaries) depending on the implied type of the note, but I think that can be done using different templates and the Templater plugin.

This approach seems flexible enough to cope with any use case I can imagine, but I’m probably missing something. Are there any obvious pitfalls? Do other people do this?

On a related issue, I have skimmed the docs on nested tags, but I am not immediately convinced that they are a good idea. Isn’t there a risk that they introduce some of the problems of a folder hierarchy in the sense that you spend time trying to work to which part of a nested tag hierarchy a note belongs?


Looks fine to me.

The downside to merging type into tags is that the types may get a little lost among the other tags. Tags in general have the potential downside of tending to get unruly if you don’t carefully define them and stick to that. In practice, for me, using tags for a variety of things in only a semi-disciplined way has worked fine.

That is a risk. But I think the nested parts also count as standalone tags, which (if true) mitigates the problem.

I don’t use them because they’re not widely supported, and because they break the simplicity of hashtags. Basic hashtags don’t require explicit support — all you need is search. Nested hashtags complicate that.

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The one thing I would warn against is using things in your “template” here (whether the category names or the answers you’re likely to frequently fill in) that are words or phrases you’re likely to want to search for in notes in other contexts.

e.g. be careful using “author” as part of a template if you think you might want to search for posts about authorship by searching for “author.” Otherwise you’re going to give yourself a ton of notes to wade through in your search results.


Sensible point, thank you for reminding me. I have been browsing my existing vault - a decade or so of notes imported mostly from Evernote - and one thing that has caught me out is clipping articles from the web, each with dozens of meaningless tags. I will have to spend some time pruning those.

And just to add insult to injury they’re marked with “Tag(s):” rather than “tags:”! Time for some grepping.

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Excellent advice, thank you.

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