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I've just recently begun working with the new Chinese language site and the question was raised as to why answers don't have tags.

The reason for asking this is that Chinese, generally, is the Mandarin language; however, some answers require more context, particularly with the diversity of the subject.

Maybe this is a specific issue related to diverse languages, however it'd be helpful for classifying answers as to whether they relate to mandarin, cantonese, or some other dialect in this case.

An example of this is The question about "很好", particularly this answer.

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Can someone explain why the down votes to the question? –  hafichuk Dec 14 '11 at 15:41

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Adding tags to answers so people know what the answer is about is trying to treat the symptom of a larger problem: the question isn't specific enough and needs to be revised.

That is, questions should be specific enough to invite (and demand) the correct answer to solve the problem stated in the question. While there might be more than one way to solve a problem, every answer needs to be talking about the same thing.

Otherwise, if I'm talking about apples and you're talking about oranges, having a unified voting system that pits our answers against each other doesn't make any sense. There's no point to ranking two answers that are about two different things in order of score: my answer about apples is correct (for apples) whereas your answer about oranges is equally correct (for oranges).

Treat the core problem—making questions specific enough so all answers are about the same thing—and this feature becomes unnecessary. While you should work this out on your meta discussion site, that might mean qualifying questions on Chinese.SE with the dialect:

  • In Mandarin, what does X mean?
  • How can I phrase Y in Cantonese?
  • Is there a word that means Z in Taishanese?
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I don't agree with this - I've seem many times on SO someone asking a question about how they should solve a problem and various responses would use differing technologies. A simple arbitrary case would be how to sort data from a database, we all know that it can be done via SQL in any DB or in any programming language. Adding tags to answers will help to contextualize the answer itself and could potentially lead to better algorithms for searching and indexing on SE itself. –  hafichuk Dec 13 '11 at 23:01
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@hafichuk While I'm certain there are hundreds of questions that slip through the cracks on Stack Overflow, a question that doesn't specify the type of answer it wants (I'm trying to sort data using MySQL or I'm trying to sort data in PHP) generally gets closed as "not a real question" for being incomplete. The question determines the subject of the thread, not answers. –  user149432 Dec 13 '11 at 23:03

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