When we launched the second version of freshmeat, we adopted the Trove software categorization system. Trove provided an extensive array of ways for authors to let freshmeat's readers know about their projects' development status, licensing, programming language, target audience, etc. It's been very helpful in letting everyone browse through categories and refine search results to find just what they want.
Unfortunately, no matter how thoroughly such a system is designed, it inevitably has to be updated as the software culture it supports changes and evolves. We've had to add many new Trove categories each year, and authors still have to shoehorn themselves into our predefined boxes.
For fm3, we're replacing Trove with freeform tags which authors can use as they please. We hope this will provide some futureproofing, allowing authors to create new categories as needed without having to lobby us to add this new operating system or that new mobile device.
Project release announcements can also have tags attached, letting authors provide more specific indications of a release's purpose than our fm2 "Release focus" of "Minor bugfixes", "Major feature enhancements", etc.
For users, the experience will be much the same. Tag filters will simply replace Trove filters. Users can filter undesired tags globally and refine search results to include or exclude certain tags. We hope that, as authors update their own categorizations, you'll begin to see more meaningful information as you use the site.
One aspect of this change that gives us pause relates to licensing. Users like to have a clear idea of how a project is distributed before they invest time in researching it. With authors entering licensing information as tags, it may be harder to get a quick and definitive answer to this question. The type of license may be left out altogether, or different authors may use slightly different tags for the same license, making it difficult to filter in a reliable way. At the moment, we're thinking of continuing to provide a list of categories for licensing only. New licenses don't appear with such great frequency, and we could keep that one list up-to-date. Under this scheme, the license selected by the author would be converted to a tag, allowing the tagging/filtering system to be used for licensing while providing consistency across projects.
We realize that tagging is one of the biggest changes in fm3 and perhaps the one that will take the most getting used to. The current Trove categories will be imported as tags with their projects at the time of fm3's launch, so you'll have a better feel for how the new system will work at that time. For now, please continue experimenting with submitting tagged projects and releases on the beta site, and let us know how it's going.