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When a new tag is created, should there be some kind of notification to the user? This could serve a dual purpose:

  1. To make the user check that this tag is really required. Is it spelt right? Might there be a more appropriate tag to use instead? - See Warning or confirmation on new tag creation
  2. To promote the creation of tag wikis.

These are both beneficial to the site. Making users think twice about their tags reduces the amount of retagging edits that are needed and reduces noise. Promoting tag wikis means that more new tags would come with explainations, making them more user-friendly for others.

Creating a new tag is a privilidge earned at 1500 reputation. Hopefully the user has gained a feel for the ethos of SO by this point, and is either enjoying being a contributer or is mainly asking good, well recieved questions. The user is probably also wanting to contribute to the site further (even if just to gain reputation), and so it makes sense to me that there should be a gentle push towards taking a little bit of time to write a short wiki for the tag you just created. By no means should this be mandatory, and the precise format of this gentle push is more in the scope of UX guys to think up, but I wanted to see how people felt about some kind of discreet notification.

I thought of two forms this notification could take:

Option 1 - at the time of tagging

enter image description here

Option 2 - after posting

enter image description here

Update: Raphael has suggested in the comments that this could be implemented as a 10K user tool. While I think that's a good idea on its own, I don't think it should be used instead. I think that encouraging users with less than 10K to complete wikis for their own tags is likely to get some wikis written because there is a sense of ownership over your own tag, and by giving it a wiki you are giving it a better start in life. As with a child, users will want to equip their tag with the tools it will need to survive in the big wide world.

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Option 3: Have a (10k) tool that lists popular/new tags without excerpt and/or wiki so experienced users can have at it. –  Raphael Apr 18 '12 at 14:13
@Raphael - I'm not 10K yet so I don't know what's available there, but I think that's a good idea. The two are not mutually exclusive though, your idea should probably exist regardless. –  shanethehat Apr 18 '12 at 14:17

1 Answer 1

IMHO, tag wikis aren't particularly useful for the vast majority of tags. When a tag grows large enough to have its own sub-community on the site, and they take the time to put together a comprehensive directory of information on the subject, it can become something of value - but all too often, wikis collect fairly useless Wikipedia excerpts and nothing more; there's not much sense in encouraging this for new tags.

However, getting something descriptive into the excerpt can be extremely helpful, as long as the focus is on how the tag should be used:

  1. The excerpt is the elevator pitch for the tag. ...

  2. Avoid generically defining the concept behind a tag, unless it is highly specialized. ...

  3. Concentrate on what a tag means to your community. ...

  4. Provide basic guidance on when to use the tag. ...

  5. Some tags are common knowledge. Most tags require a bit of explanation in the excerpt, even if it’s only 3 or 4 words. But if the tag is common knowledge — that is, if you walked up to any random person on the street and said the tag word to them, and they would know what you were talking about — then don’t bother explaining the tag at all. Stick to usage of the tag within your community in the excerpt.

The two uses you have for this - warning when creating new tags by prompting the user to think about them a bit, and collecting a bit of information from the creator - are good ones. Combined, I think this could be a good opportunity to check the creation of worthless tags that must be cleaned up later. So I'd like to see a UI that focuses specifically on asking for an explanation when a new tag is introduced:

tag tag tag, nag nag nag

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I did consider this format for my option 1 graphic, but I didn't think that the prompt should be blocking in nature. I think that by forcing people to provide the excerpt you are going to end up with poor quality excerpts. Would they still be pushed into the approval system like tag wikis are now? –  shanethehat May 9 '12 at 8:12
Yes, and that is the bit that really gives me pause here - I don't really like it unless it strongly encourages filling in the information before continuing. But it could well just end up creating a lot more junk that needs approval. Regardless though, I think focusing on the excerpt instead of the wiki is the way to go - folks really should know enough to write that. –  Shog9 May 9 '12 at 14:04
Agreed, although it might be nice to have a place where wikis that only have excerpts are listed. –  shanethehat May 9 '12 at 14:30

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