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Why are post tags stored in the qa_posts table as a comma separated list in a field as opposed to being normalised in their own table?
Q2A version: 1.7

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I'm not sure why you say they don't have their own table, because they do. Take a look again at the schema.

Anyway, apart from being normalized, it is also denormalized to speed up some queries, saving a couple of joins.
Oh my God! You're right! I just overlooked it!

I've spent 2 days trying to figure out a way around this and have finally started developing a plugin to create a post_tags table!

Thank you for the update - appreciated!