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The SE developers are currently busy implementing a new review tool that will replace the old /review queue. I think this new review tool could also be used to make large-scale retagging and tag removal easier.

The workflow I propose would be something like this:

  • community decides that a specific tag is useless or problematic, needs to be eliminated or disambiguated
  • Diamond moderator creates a queue (for all questions in that tag) in the review tool with a short explanation of what should be done and a link to the meta post discussing the issue. The options to delete the tag and specific tag replacements can be enabled as review actions by mods.
  • Users review the questions in the queue and vote to remove the tag, replace the tag with one of the predefined alternatives or inline retag freely.

Until now, this sounds exactly like what we're currently doing manually when retagging. But having a dedicated tool would allow some additional options, especially some to avoid breaking the frontpage with mass retags. The review tool could for example:

  • Not immediately execute the retags, just take them out of the queue, and execute them in between the normal activity of the site, ensuring that they don't interfere with the normal operation of the frontpage
  • Allow retags without bumping the question, but then requiring x users to agree to a retag even if they have the reputation to retag alone. The review queue would supply the necessary peer review, eliminating the need to bump the question

The edits that are performed using the review queue could also automatically link to the meta post about the retag, making the reason for the retag more obvious to users that didn't see the meta post.

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While I like this idea, I'm also worried about the gaming effect - people might not be as thorough and just do the retagging without fixing the rest of the problems in the post. –  nhahtdh Oct 1 '12 at 13:46
    
@nhahtdh: Only allow the queue to be visible to "trusted user" privalege levels? –  Caleb Oct 1 '12 at 14:00
    
@Caleb: Probably only for people with Copy Editor badge? Nope, only 500+ people has Copy Editor badge, and it might create gaming effect. There is a need for indication of good editor while not keeping too many people away. Strunk and White badge seems to be a good start? –  nhahtdh Oct 1 '12 at 14:03
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@nhahtdh Existing tag clean-ups already have that problem. I don't think we stop improving the system just because a better system has one of the problems of the current one. –  Ben Brocka Oct 1 '12 at 14:14
    
@BenBrocka: I don't object to the whole idea here. But again, the hard thing is to strike a balance so that the negative effect is not getting worse. –  nhahtdh Oct 1 '12 at 14:20
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2 Answers

I just proposed something almost identical before finding your question. I'm voting to close mine as a duplicate, but for reference, here is how I envisioned it working. It's pretty much the same as your proposal with a few minor details and less details fleshed out. For reference, here's what I came up with:

The new review queues are awesome. I would like to be able to tag a tag* in such a way that all questions with that tag would come up for a special kind of review.

The scenario would look something like this:

  1. A tag is identified as problematic. Maybe it's a meta-tag, maybe the site scope has changed, maybe it's just commonly problematic for one reason or another.

  2. A discussion on meta would determine how the tag should be cleaned up.

  3. Once there was consensus about how to go about with the cleanup work, a moderator would create a special review-queue and add the tag in question. The header for the queue would have a link to the meta post and any brief instructions for what to look for, common re-tag or edit options, etc.

I think this would help us get more people involved with housekeeping jobs that improve the overall quality of the site.

* This is meta, right?

As an additional point, it might be useful to be able to specify additional search parameters rather than just a whole tag. Sometimes key phrases are identified as problematic, or sometimes tag combinations or tag singletons are the real issue.

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What I think would work better for mass retags is a system of voting to close a tag, much like bad questions are closed.

High rep would be required to VTC a tag, say 15,000.

If a tag reaches 5 close votes, the tag is closed.

Closed tags

  • Closed tags still exist. They are still attached to questions, and they are still visible on questions.

  • Closed tags are visible (a different colour) to users with enough rep for the 'View closed tags' permission (similar to the view close votes permission).

  • Closed tags cannot be added to new questions.

  • A tag that is closed is visible on the mod panel, as are a list of problematic questions (questions that only have the closed tag, or only have closed tags including this one).

  • Tags can be reopened with enough votes, in much the same way questions can.

  • Closed tags can be deleted, if enough delete votes are accrued and there are no problematic questions remaining.

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Not enough. Sometimes tags have to be split in two. There are lots of different things that come up in tag cleanup. IMO, the OP's suggestion is better. –  Manishearth Jun 26 '12 at 15:44
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@ManishEarthwantsmorewaffles Something about a separate queue for each individual tag with a problem just seems...off to me. I'd agree that there should be just one queue with all of the questions meeting some criteria for "needing to be retagged". (Even if those criteria are more than just "contains this tag that we are planning to delete"). –  Servy Jul 26 '12 at 15:20
    
If a tag has to split in two then this still works as if it has to be split the original name can't be left as users will use it for both cases. –  Mark Jul 26 '12 at 15:46
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This is an interesting separate proposal, but I think doesn't do enough to facilitate the cleanup of problematic tags. I would suggest proposing this in a separate question as solution to the workflow for blacklisting tags. –  Caleb Oct 1 '12 at 13:55
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