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I believe that for proper classification of questions, users should not be allowed to tag as they wish. Of course, this restriction is there to some extent since creating new tags require certain level of reputation. But there is no guarantee that they can create similar meaning tags (this is addresses by the tag synonym feature) or tags which are too fine-grained.

I am not proposing a complete hierarchical arrangement of tags which will become a nightmare to maintain without an offline tool or a set of 'tag manipulation' features available only to taxonomists (or tag maintainers). But a set of top-most level tags into exactly one of which any of the questions in an SO site get categorized into.

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I smell an interesting idea in this, in the form of featured tags - questions that other SO users have marked as "interesting". That is terribly disciminatory, but may become a necessity if the deluge of low-quality questions doesn't stop. Hence +1 –  Pëkka Sep 9 '11 at 15:35
Thank you, I think since SO has garnered a large user-base, it will only do good to have restrictions which improve the quality of the content. –  user138835 Sep 10 '11 at 4:27
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2 Answers

Two questions:

  1. How are you choosing those tags, and are you sure you find a fitting one for every question?
  2. Who's going to do that? I mean, did you look at the question-volume of SO?

Edit: Yes, those are two questions as an answer. But I think they deserve the valuable answer-space because they are two very important points which are missing from the feature request (and they act as a sarcastic "I don't like the proposal" answer).

Edit2: I don't see this working for the two reasons I "mentioned" above. There are so many different questions on SO, that it is hard to fit them into a category. And absolute generic categories would do nothing. Additionally, new users on SO are already overwhelmed by using the simplest tags, not to speak of picking the right ones.

If you're able to define a clear set of tags for this, I'd be very impressed. The questions on SO are ranging from Why doesn't this work? to If I use component x, method y of class z is not behaving as it should, should I change it to use algorithm b?. It's hard to stuff them into a category.

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Wait, did you just answer a question with not one, but two questions? If this is rhetoric, it's hardly obvious. –  Grant Thomas Sep 9 '11 at 12:38
Yes...yes I did. I wondered about that myself, but then I figured that those two questions are a valid answer. Those are counter questions to the proposed feature request which are showing two very critical holes in the design of the feature request which need to be taken into account and blablabla... ... ...are you still reading? You are still reading, right? –  Time Traveling Bobby Sep 9 '11 at 12:42
Both the questions did not answer my question? I only asked for a few high-level tags just like this meta-site has discussion, feature-request, etc. as a mandatory label. Since SO is "a programming Q & A site", I assume the question is mostly one of: programming-language, process, tool or applications at the broadest level. This is just one suggestion for the set of tags, but if possible one could analyze the existing tags and see which tags could be suitable for the highest-level categories. –  user138835 Sep 9 '11 at 13:47
@user936341: Well, if you can answer those two questions I'll edit or remove this answer. But you're right. I'll edit my answer to be an answer. –  Time Traveling Bobby Sep 9 '11 at 14:55
@Straitjacket: Response to the specific questions: (1) Analyze the existing tags, one candidate set for this will be tags which are the only tag in questions but this can turn out to be big list. We need broad category tags such as the ones I mentioned, I don't there needs to be more than 10-15 of these. (2) I don't think it needs a huge effort to maintain this top-level tag set, since there will be only a few. Once we agree, it is a matter of changing code to make people tag any new question with one of these.Also need to write a script to tag qns which don't have these top-level tag today. –  user138835 Sep 10 '11 at 4:19
@Straitjacket:"absolute generic categories would do nothing":I don't agree, for example if I am interested in architecture questions, I just need to subscribe to this one tag feed instead of 20 or so. For e.g,there the CQRS questions which don't have architecture tag in them.There could be other uses. –  user138835 Sep 10 '11 at 4:23
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I believe that for proper classification of questions, users should not be allowed to tag as they wish.

The only way not to allow users to use the tags they wish is to automatically restrict the tags being entered; differently, you are describing the situation we currently have, when an editor will remove the tags that are not necessary, or replace them with the correct tags.

I don't think there is a way to automatically restrict the tags users can use basing on the text of the question.
First, there are tags that apparently are similar, but refer to completely different topics (see and ); if a question would be about the Drupal module, I don't know how the code would know that the allowed tag is , and not . The other problem I see is, for example, for questions that ask how to write code that is equivalent to the code written in a different language; if the code that restricts the allowed tags would be able to detect the programming language used, how could it know that I mean to ask the equivalent of that code in another programming language?
The most important problem I see, anyway, is that users would be forced to add extra words in the question just to be able to use some tags. For example, when I ask a question about Drupal, I tag it with , but I don't repeat "I am using Drupal" in all the questions; once the question is tagged , it's obvious the question is about Drupal.

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Question does not talk about auto-tagging or suggesting tags from entered text, it only begs to have a set of broad, high-level mandatory tags. I believe that we could come up with such a set. –  user138835 Sep 10 '11 at 4:30
You wrote, "users should not be allowed to tag as they wish." If all the tags I enter are kept, then I am allowed to tag as I wish. If you are referring to somebody that removes the non desired tags, that is what already happens, as there are users with the privilege of editing any post that correct the tags being used. –  kiamlaluno Sep 10 '11 at 8:17
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