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When posting a question and adding tags, users have the ability to create a tag. This can lead to many similar tag interpretations. Today we have tags for cluster-analysis, and findclusters, kernel, kernelstartup and so on, where a single tag for these may provide the user greater ability to find answers on a given subject.

Or an alternative to the above method would be when a user searches a tag they are presented with results from similar tags as a lower priority to their search results.

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There already exists a feature to make certain tags synonyms of each other. For example, on Gardening & Landscaping, we have dionaea as a synonym of venus-fly-trap so that users who search by the common name or the genus will be presented with the same result

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In order to do this, you should suggest a synonym and get 4 other users to vote on it (also requires you to have a minimum rep on the site—1.25k on beta and 2.5k on others, if I remember right—and a minimum rep in the particular tag). Needless to say, not many users can satisfy these conditions, and just give up on suggesting.

Mods can also create synonyms regardless of rep on site/tag and without community votes. However, unless it is an obvious one (e.g., on gardening, all tags are plurals, so singular->plural is done immediately), you might not want the mod to make synonyms as they wish.

You have two possible options here:

  • Suggest a synonym and ask users to vote in chat — this gets some eyes on the issue.
  • Open a meta post suggesting possible synonyms. Rather than creating a post for each request, it might be better to have a single question where users can suggest synonyms in the answers and mods can create after community feedback. Once set, the answer can be deleted to keep the slate clean. Here is how we do it on gardening. There are quite a few deleted answers on that page, and now we've switched to doing it through revisions.

Once you raise a meta post, if users agree, they themselves can suggest synonyms (if you don't have rep) and either other users or mods can approve, thereby netting you a "Synonymizer" badge.

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How about the feature suggestion that simply adds the similar tags to the end of a tag search? Seems easier than trying to find users with > 1.25K to vote and would also improve the user experience for all SE searchers. – R Hall Apr 21 '12 at 22:53
@RHall How does the system know what is similar? You'll have to tell it that two tags are similar and I've shown you ways to do that. – Lorem Ipsum Apr 21 '12 at 23:31
There are the external ways, such as the ones you pointed out which are very accurate but slow and low tech, or the fuzzy logic approach in the search engine itself. I much prefer the fuzzy logic approach, but both approaches have benefits. If a fuzzy logic approach was used a group of users could fine tune it, or the results could be made to do the job by presenting the user with the choice to vote up or down the result of the search. I'm sure there are also more creative ways to do this as well. – R Hall Apr 21 '12 at 23:52

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