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What about simply do not use shapes for tags. Shapes evoke affordance (the idea that an object is usable in someway), while simple text does not. Check the image below. download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups


You should use the correct icon to convey the image of a tag. Some simple examples are below (to be scaled down). Personally I like the rectangle with a folded ear. I remember having seen a Stack Exchange site which uses them in a more stylized version (B&W), but I can't recall which one.


I think the main problem is, the shape of each tag (i.e. rounded corner with inverted color) and the way they are presented together, makes them look like they are clickable keyword tags that people. The only way to eliminate the possiblilty of people clicking on it is to get rid of that perception of affordance. Keep in mind, the inverted color also ...


From your observation there is clearly a disconnect between the way the tags are styled and the users' expectations of what the interaction with them should be. Without knowing what the rest of the UI styling looks like, the only suggestion is to align them to other static UI components to avoid the confusion. You can also change the mouse pointer behaviour ...

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