I have been on Worldbuilding Stack Exchange for slightly over a year and I have realized that many very specific and rarely used tags exist. On the other hand, certain topics only have very broad tags that are not very specific that could hinder searching.

For example, Worldbuilding Stack Exchange has a tag for [beer] that only contains only one question so far, which I mentioned before. However, there are about as many questions focusing on wine compared to beer, yet wine does not have a dedicated tag.

Similarly, Worldbuilding Stack Exchange seems to lack many tags that could potentially be useful. For example, there are no tags focusing on violence or violent crime even though a search for violence brings up 1,176 results.

Can we have a standardized system for determining which tags are necessary and which tags are redundant? As of right now, there does not seem to be any such system. Last year, I proposed deleting all tags that have fewer than 10 uses and have not been used in the past 2 years.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't really understand what your point is: you seem to be in favour of tag specificity, but then remind us that last year you proposed deleting tags that demonstrate specificity; you complain also that some specific tags exist while others don't exist. I guess my question for clarification is this, essentially a repetition of the answer I wrote last year! and that is: why don't you just propose a WINE tag? Propose a VIOLENCE tag? And if you notice several themes, propose SOCIETAL VIOLENCE and also INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE? ... $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jun 10 '21 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) ... The main problem with tags is that they require extra work. Maybe people who ask questions about wine don't even think that there would be a tag for it. Perhaps they don't think it's even useful! If they forget, then it must fall to someone else to go along and police every single question to determine if an existing tag ought to have been used and edit it in or else determine that a new tag ought to be created. Squeaky wheel! You've had a bee in your bonnet for almost a year about tags, why not just edit queries and insert appropriate tags? Why not just propose useful tags? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jun 10 '21 at 15:20

I guess there are many issues which will hinder the tag standardization :

  • If you remove tags, you'll have to decide what to do with questions without other tags on it :). So... It may not be as standardizable as you wish.
  • The violence tag is a T.R.I.C.K.Y topic (Terribly Risky Introduction to Criminals Killing You). Making it as a tag means that you can officially ask questions about it as one of the main theme for creating a world, which is morally dubious for many people. Just look at meta-topics about torture. Goat, it's quite heated enough to cook some pancakes on it. This problem may arise for other tags.
  • You'd have to recognize true necessary niche tags from tags which can be merged together. Statistically they might have enough posts each and look similar, but the first one need to be kept, while the other one need to be merged or deleted.

However, I do think it might be possible to reduce the number of tags. The problem lies in who is feeling interested in this matter to actually fight the bacterial tags and make some proposals, to either remove or merge these tags. I rarely read the tags, only see this as a search tool, so *slips away to the door*...

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    $\begingroup$ Quibble: tags do not make a topic "official". We had a whole row about torture recently where even with tags certain community members thought that the topic ought to be forbidden here. Tags simply make for a way to categorise and follow certain types of queries. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jun 10 '21 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Indeed, a theme becomes officially accepted or "un"accepted by the community. I don't know how to put it, but... think of the tag like a stamp you put on a paper : Gives an official look, a symbol; however, it doesn't approve its bound content in the stead of people who have not signed it. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 10 '21 at 15:15


  1. If the worst problem this Stack has is the inconsistent availability and use of tags, we're in great shape.

  2. While it's convenient to search via tags, that's only one (and arguably not the primary) use of the tags. IMO, the primary use of the tags is to provide boundaries or give scope for the respondents. In other words, a question tagged science-based would have a legitimate reason to delete any answer that solved the problem using magic.

  3. In some instances, tags are improved by deleting the general-case tag and implementing a series of specific tags. In other instances, the tags are improved by deleting all of the specific tags and replacing them with one general-use tag. I do not believe either perspective is better than the other. For example, I'd be completely content to delete the beer tag (one Q) and replace it with the more generic alcoholic-beverages tag (two Qs). I frankly don't see a lot of difference between beer, wine, whisky, etc., when it comes to the scope or boundaries that would help the respondents. However, that brings us to...

  4. Tags are inconsistently used by, IMO, pretty much everyone. Some people list all the tags they can while others list just one. Some ache because the precise series of words they want don't exist in the tag list while others use the first tag that looks good enough. Some people mindlessly type out the word they want to use (creating a new tag with enough rep) while others never contribute to the tag base. Way to many people assume what a tag represents by the word or phrase of the tag rather than reading the tag wiki....

My point? the beauty of tags is very much in the eyes of the beholder, so creating a procedure to improve them is, in my opinion, an exercise in futility.

And as Elemtilas mentioned, the example of violence is one that's sensitive on this Stack because we got our knuckles rapped by the Stake Exchange Overlords about it. But it's also a great example of the fundamental problem. Some people deal with violence easily. Others are adamantly against its smallest expression. Getting those two groups of people to agree to a list of violence-oriented tags would be miraculous.


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