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Spawned by this question on Board and Card Cames Meta regarding forcing the name of a game to be in the title of the question, it occurs to me that including the tag with the most popularity in the HTML <title> element doesn't always help with organic search.

Take for example the HTML <title> for this question:

<title>
  strategy - Is it better to try to reveal a Traitor early, 
  or wait until later in the game?
  - Board and Card Games - Stack Exchange
</title>

From an SEO perspective, it's much better to include the name of the game in the title:

<title>
  shadows-over-camelot - Is it better to try to reveal a Traitor early, 
  or wait until later in the game?
  - Board and Card Games - Stack Exchange
</title>

This kind of title would be much better for organic search, so much so it's even in Google's search engine optimization starter guide (see page 4, "Create unique, accurate page titles", this qualifies as more accurate).

The feature request would be to indicate, via the tag wiki (it seems the most logical place, but it's not essential to be there) that the tag should not be a part of the HTML <title>.

Then, when rendering the HTML <title> of the page, it would take the tags in the order of number of questions asked against the tag, excluding any tags which has this flag set.

If by chance all the tags have the flag, then it would default to the first tag with the most number of questions, as it always had.

It makes a good deal of sense here because there are a number of tags shared across games. It's also applicable to any SE site which has general tags which are relevant to the question and not considered junk (I imagine this is the deal at gaming.SE as well) but do nothing to help with searchability on Google.

Additionally, this would be great on Stack Overflow and other SE sites that have some issues with questions with junk tags, allowing us to apply it those tag wikis right now to get them out of the title.

Note that in the latter case (junk tags which can't be burninated or nuked from orbit for some reason or another) it wouldn't justify the existence of those tags, just allow the pages that have them to get better organic search because they happen to have a junk tag applied until it's weeded from the system.

Finally, this would have to have some sort of requirement to set the flag, as only trusted users (or groups of users) should have the ability to affect the rendering of such an important page item in this manner. That I'll leave open ended, but there would have to be some way of restricting access to this flag.

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Similar, declined request on Gaming Meta. –  lunboks Jan 20 '12 at 20:01
1  
@lunboks Took me a while to see the similarity, but that's more about lowering certain bars on tagging in order to accommodate new users who might not be able to ask their question correctly because of a game's obscurity. One of the problems there is that it lowers the bar for tags, allowing the potential for junk to come in (if the rep is lowered, they could create anything, how do you know what's a game?). This doesn't lower the bar, just indicates how a tag is considered when rendering a page. However, the rep issue is important, so I'll update the question appropriately. –  casperOne Jan 20 '12 at 20:08

2 Answers 2

In general, requests like this are evidence that the site's tagging strategy needs improvement.

This solution has two big problems:

  1. Most of all, it's sweeping the broader site tagging problem under the rug. I have a hard time seeing the value of the unusually dominant tags "strategy" and "rules" on Board & Card Games. They are so broad as to be meaningless. Who exactly is going to subscribe to the "rules" tag? What does "strategy" even mean? In that sense B&CG has the same issue as gaming, where the primary tag -- the reason to care about a question -- is the game.

  2. Maintaining a blacklist (or a whitelist) is manual, error prone effort. So someone now has to go through and manually decide which tags are the 'right' or 'wrong' ones to appear in the title? Or ensure that there is a master list of "this tag represents a game that is allowed to be in the title, whereas the other tags represent concepts that are not?"

I would argue, strongly, that this effort should instead be applied to discipline around tagging the individual questions themselves rather than some kind of bizarre postfix.

Otherwise, honestly, we are treating the symptom (let's implement CSS !important for tags!) rather than the underlying disease (we need to improve how our questions are tagged).

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So how do you deal with a) crap tags that are applied to too many questions on a site like SO (will we just nuke from orbit, or will people be required to take on things like asp? and b) for gaming, RPG, etc, do you get really specific with the tags. On RPG, do you have a d-and-d-strategy tag? –  casperOne Jan 23 '12 at 13:03
    
@casper the golden rule is that tags must be able to stand alone as the only tag on the question. blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/08/the-death-of-meta-tags That is certainly not true of 'strategy' or 'rules' since these things are radically different for different board games (or video games for that matter). You could make an argument that certain tags in the context of programming make sense across all languages. That would be.. exceedingly rare.. in the context of video games, or board games. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 23 '12 at 13:16
1  
That answers a), and I agree, meta-tags on SO got to go. But for b), I'm not sure that the gaming.SE approach (placing the top two tags in the title) is the best way, as it borders on keyword stuffing –  casperOne Jan 23 '12 at 13:21

We requested that on Gaming a long while ago (Allow tags to be blacklisted specifically from appearing in the HTML page title) and argued long about this.

The solution now implemented on Gaming by Jeff is that up to two tags are displayed in front of the title and that often-used tags which are not game names are eliminated (with a few exceptions). This discussion went on for a long time, and my impression from it is that any changes to the tag system like this are completely off the table. We get the limited tag system that we have now, and if it causes trouble on some sites those sites just have to change their tagging to fit into the system.

Jeff's solution to this problem would be to nuke . That might actually solve this specific problem (I didn't check how useful this specific tag actually is on B&CG), but it doesn't present a general solution in my opinion. But my strong impression is that this isn't going to change any time soon.

Related meta posts on Gaming:

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See my comment to @lunboks in the question as to how this is different. That proposal was fundamentally based on lowering the bar, and this proposal does no such thing. It's not about making junk tags easier to create (as I read it, that's where the gaming proposal was ultimately failing) it's about making junk tags that already exist have less of a negative impact on the site than they do now. I hope this tickle's Jeff's love of Google SEO fancy (if they don't know you, you don't exist) while not giving him concerns over adding noise to any of the sites. –  casperOne Jan 20 '12 at 20:30
1  
Check again, I linked to a different post than lunboks, which is for a feature nearly identical to the one you request here. –  Mad Scientist Jan 20 '12 at 20:32
    
Ahh, I see where you're coming from now, apologies about that. Well, consider the feature request promoted to all of Stack Exchange. =) As for changes to the tag system, it never hurts to try, and given that it's not just a gaming-specific issue, it might be received differently now (but I won't lie and say that I'm hopeful after reading that). –  casperOne Jan 20 '12 at 20:36
    
I think that the overall problem is junk tags, and if we are to address it, we have to take one of two approaches a) nuke/burninate with extreme prejudice (which we aren't doing right now on SO, but other SE sites are, take a look at the poll tag for example on SO), or b) diminish the impact of those tags where possible. This request is along the lines of the second, given the size of SO and how difficult it would be to take approach a) given that size. –  casperOne Jan 20 '12 at 20:39
3  
@casperOne Removing bad tags helps, but there are some legitimate tags that cause the same problem on Gaming. The platform tags(pc, xbox, ...) outnumber every game except for Skyrim, Minecraft and Starcraft 2. If you want to solve this problem by removing tags, you would have to remove pretty much every single non-game tag. Though considering how unlikely any fundamental changes to tagging are, I'm close to considering that a valid solution. –  Mad Scientist Jan 20 '12 at 20:44
1  
@fabian the platform tags simply aren't useful the vast majority of the time. Are you a gamer? Then you know that Skyrim is pretty much the same on PC, PS3, and Xbox and the questions that need a platform tag due to some quirky platform specific thing about Skyrim are rare (and can have the tag in that specific case). The golden rule of tagging should be "Omit Needless Tags". –  Jeff Atwood Jan 23 '12 at 12:08
2  
@Jeff The platform tags are no problem for Skyrim, but for less popular games, where the platform tag outnumbers the game tag. Every tag that can apply to multiple games is a problem, also tags like [achievements] or [controls]. If they are used in combination with a less popular game, they'll get priority in the title. Should we eliminate all those tags? I know that Gaming has the "2 tags in title" workaround, but I really dislike that one. –  Mad Scientist Jan 23 '12 at 12:43

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