I think I'll die sooner than persuading people about the fact that we have a really, really bad tagging system right now. Out of the sea of users, only a handful of them seem to care about the tags. No mods have chipped in active retagging. I'm not looking for an unconstructive argument about my manners and opinions about tags, nor I'm trying to rant. Instead, I'm asking What are tags good for? from another perspective.

I stood back and checked my sanity. Why should I care when almost no one else cares? In other words, do you (plural) think tags are a lost cause? Do we really need to spend time in making them neat and in order when the next question will have a 96% chance of having bad tags?

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    What makes you certain that no-one else cares? It's the beginning of the year, and I'm super busy at work right now (a lot of folks are still catching up from the holidays). Just because folks don't have the time to immediately start cleaning up a lot of tags doesn't mean we don't care. I think having the discussion so that we're all pointed in the same direction is valuable. I'm sorry you're getting discouraged.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 6, 2016 at 20:35
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    I suspect progress on fixing tags will come step by step; as some tags are fixed up, the disparity between good and bad tags will become more apparent, leading to more discomfort with leaving bad tags around. Jan 6, 2016 at 22:54
  • As I said earlier that I'm not in favor to do this; instead I would strongly recommend to write a canonical post and redirect users to the post. Educating people is a permanent solution rather than cleaning up things for our entire lives - that's the reason of not chipping in! BUT as we had chat and you clarified your intention, I was a bit agree and that's why I started removing tags of 'grammar' for every new question that pops in (I set 'grammar' as a favorite tag' so that it gives me notification') -that's the reason of 'chipping in' though a bit!
    – Maulik V
    Jan 7, 2016 at 5:21
  • "Educating people is a permanent solution". Yes indeed @Maulik, if the folks are actually listening. From what has gone on metas I've learned that the majority do not.
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 7, 2016 at 6:38
  • @Rathony I'd like to continue that discussion in chat, just remember to ping me if you visit there. This is a different thread.
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 7, 2016 at 6:41
  • @Ϻ.Λ.Ʀ. Can you invite me to a chat room? I don't know how to use it.
    – user24743
    Jan 7, 2016 at 6:49
  • @Rathony the invite feature only helps for users who've been chatting. You can come to this chatroom for discussion.
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 7, 2016 at 7:52
  • Condense the tags? Just "Articles" instead of "definite", "indefinite" and "articles." Just "Participles" instead of "present X", "past X" and "X clause", "X phrase"... Then restrict/deny recreation?
    – lurker
    Jan 8, 2016 at 2:00
  • @lurker no, since [definite-article] and [indefinite-article] are already broad enough. Same goes for others. The idea is to have specific tags so that when someone looks for a question, they can find them among a list of similar questions.
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 8, 2016 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


I honestly don't care much about the tag system, but I'm trying to help out a little bit anyway because other people seem to care, and I don't think we can make much progress if we only have a few people working on retagging.

Unfortunately, it's quite common for people to add or remove tags without understanding what the tag refers to. People think all auxiliaries are 'modal verbs' and tag accordingly. Likewise, most of our recent tag wikis are misleading or wrong, but users are approving them anyway. And people object to technical terms they don't know (like postpositive adjectives), and instead of learning the basics they decide we don't need to classify those things with tags, so we tend to lose the few useful tags we have.

So no, I don't really have much hope for the tagging system. It can be improved, but I doubt it'll ever be good. Even if we did the best we could, it's really (like the rest of the site) designed for Stack Overflow, not for a natural language site. No one ever tried to come up with a system appropriate for ELL – they just reused the SO code and hoped for the best. And the result is never going to be perfect no matter what we do.

So I think the best we can hope for is to add fairly specific tags when possible to help people find questions on the same topic. Since there's resistance to that idea and since people tend to remove specific tags, I don't know what else to do besides edit a question here or there when the tags clearly don't apply to the question.

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    I am concerned about the state of our tag wikis. I am seeing quite a few patently wrong tag descriptions in the review queue, but I'm not confident enough in my ability to accurately describe some of the tags to do more than reject the suggested edits. I have a personal rule to remove useless tags (like meaning, word, and often grammar) but leave really specific tags alone.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 7, 2016 at 5:37

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