The below answer has been brushed up and turned in to its own separate feature-request: Improving Tag Synonyms
This is definitely an issue, as I look at my poor unfrequented tag, and its proposed synonym sitting with a lowly zero votes and a single person with sufficient reputation to actually support it active in the tag:
Answer more [tag:google-visualization] questions so that you can approve this synonym
The existing 3 synonyms I asked for in the Tavern on the Meta (prior to receiving 2500 reputation) and a mod kindly made the change.
I do not believe a standard review queue would work. If it is anything like the Suggested Edits or First Posts queue, then there will be a lot of mindless clicking of accept resulting in a lot more of an issue than an inappropriate edit, or a poor quality post. And that isn't the goal. If anyone can click accept and improve the system, then suggested synonyms shouldn't be suggested at all, and just be accepted straight-up.
Remove Silly Limitations
Johnny Stack has 4,000 reputation and a score of 200 in the programming-language tag. programming-language changes the official name to puroguramu-gengo so all sorts of new questions start popping up with that tag. Johnny Stack wants to suggest making programming-language a synonym of proguramu-gengo but is rejected with a silly message:
So Johnny can retag his old questions with the new tag, get the 5 score, and then suggest the synonym just to meet this arbitrary requirement. Those edits will be entirely useless when the synonym gets approved. Making those edits to his old posts will not improve his understanding of the tags in the slightest and will simply add another hoop for him to leap through.
Alternatively, he could suggest that puroguramu-gengo is actually a synonym of programming-language, but this is definitely not actually true. But at least it could be proposed! And there would be more people able to actually accept it because it is the existing tag with more people paying attention to it. But this is not a solution, it is a problem masquerading as a solution due to it being a practical alternative.
Make the Synonym Approval Process Visible
Right now you have to visit the tag synonyms page to see that there is a synonym request, and to vote to approve it. Nobody does that which is why these things never get approved. Instead we should take a two-tier approach to getting users in that tag to notice the suggestion:
- Give anyone with that tag favorited a notification
- Have a nice banner appear to anyone with 5 score in that tag who is browsing the tag
Giving users who have the tag favorited will give them an opportunity to click the notification and vote. This is an incredibly non-intrusive way to let people know about tags they have already stated they care about, and potential ways to improve them.
People browsing the tag who meet the criteria to vote could just have a nice banner saying something like:
[User] proposed that programming-language is a synonym of this tag. What do you think? [Yes/No]. For more details see [Link to Synonym Page] (X)
You can raise the bar for how many votes it takes to account that some people won't think in depth, users can ignore it and it won't come back, and it will only target people who are currently interested in the tag and can do something about it. Improvement becomes easier while minimizing the hassle to the user.
Improve Synonym Suggestion
Instead of this dull suggestion box:
We could add space for people to add a comment, add information on the tag wiki (excerpt with a link to full description) for the suggested synonym, and put it all in the same place allowing users to more easily determine if they are related. Then when a user wants to find details they don't have to do the legwork themselves minimizing the burden on them. It also allows the person suggesting to make links to things that explain why they are synonyms. Win-win for everyone involved. And less burden on the moderators.