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How can I remove the tag base that WordPress creates by default in permalinks? Any reason why it would be there in the first place?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's probably there to help visually and programmatically distinguish tag URLs from pages; I'm not sure, I'm not a core developer of WordPress.

But http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-no-tag-base/ and http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-no-category-base/ work well and do not make permanent changes to files or GUIDs, so they can be deactivated with no ill effects.

Use the plugins as "regular" plugins, or as mu-plugins http://codex.wordpress.org/Must_Use_Plugins

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The permalink bases for taxonomies exist to make it easier to distinguish those requests from page or post requests. Let’s say there is a request to /world/ and you have a tag and a page with that slug.
What will WordPress send to the visitor? That is not predictable for the end user without a clear, visible distinction. It would be the term page probably, depending on the inner workings of the plugins @songdogtech mentioned.

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