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This is probably a really silly question for most of you. I’m learning how to re-tag and I was wondering how to determine if a tag is superfluous.

For example, I see a lot of Facebook PHP SDK specific questions come up under the PHP tag. They’re usually tagged appropriately with , but they also use the tag. Is the extra PHP tag superfluous? In some cases the solution to a particular question is a general PHP error (or something like that), but in other cases the problem is specific to the Facebook SDK.

More important than this specific example — is there criteria for determining when a tag shouldn’t be applied or does it come down to “use your best judgement”? I thought I should ask before re-tagging inappropriately, making everyone’s life harder. Is there some kind of How to Tag tutorial somewhere on Stack Exchange that I’m overlooking?

I realize that tagging should be common sense, but I’m new around here and I don’t want to screw anything up. :-)

share|improve this question
If you asked me, facebook-php-sdk is unnecessary and instead should use the combination, php and facebook-sdk. facebook-php-sdk is far too narrow to be useful in general. Fortunately all other tags don't follow the same convention. But then again, it's sponsored tags so they are somewhat protected so I don't know what could be done about that. – Jeff Mercado Sep 16 '11 at 9:10
@Jeff: Yeah, you have a point there. I'm so new, I didn't even know tags could be sponsored. :p. On the other hand, php has been flooded so much recently with Facebook related question it may end up with its own stack. :D – Herbert Sep 16 '11 at 9:35
up vote 8 down vote accepted

A tag should be applied if it describes the contents of a question. In this case, the language is PHP, using the Facebook SDK.

People are more than welcome to filter out tags, so it's easy for someone not even remotely interested in the Facebook SDK to see only PHP questions without that tag.

When you are intentionally tagging in order to gain a broader audience, it's superfluous. For instance, tagging a question that has nothing to do with as in hopes that more people read it.

If someone was using Zend Framework, I'd fully expect a question to be tagged with both Zend Framework as well as PHP, as both tags accurately reflect the content of the question - even though PHP can generally be assumed if someone is asking a question about a PHP framework.

share|improve this answer
Thanks Tim. That's a good explanation. Another silly question, if you don't mind: how do I filter out tags? I'm just a n00b trying to learn the system so if there's a one-stop-shop to learn how to do things like filtering, etc., that'd be great. :) – Herbert Sep 16 '11 at 10:55
@Herbert Right on the front page, top right side. See "Favorite tags" and "Ignored tags", the fields will autocomplete. – Tim Post Sep 16 '11 at 11:15
Thanks again Tim. – Herbert Sep 16 '11 at 11:45

When I asked a question on meta about which tags to use, I was said to use the tags that allows me to reach the audience of who can answer my questions.

Tagging a question with and would make sense if who knows PHP knows also something about the Facebook SDK, which I don't think it is the case. It would be like tagging a Drupal question with and : Somebody who knows PHP doesn't necessarily knows Drupal, and who knows Drupal is probably already following the questions tagged (making that tag one of the favorite, or subscribing to the feed for that tag). Differently, it make sense to use both and because there could be users who follow that don't follow ; who knows Drupal could be able to answer to questions about the Views module (one of the modules used with Drupal), even if the same user is not able to answer to every question about Views.

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This makes sense too and follows my line of thinking when I posed this question. It seems that tags serve two distinct functions: targeting a question toward an audience and indexing the Q&A session for future use. – Herbert Sep 17 '11 at 12:13

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