I see a number of tags at SO that seem useless. Before raising them for possible deletion, I'd like to know, are there any rules that are followed when creating a new flag?

The FAQ page doesn't say anything about tags, and the tag privilege page just says:

What is creating tags?

A tag is a keyword or label that categorizes your question with other, similar questions. When you choose to create a new tag, you're asking a question in a topic that nobody before you (on this site, at least) ever has.

When should I create new tags?

Most common tags already exist on a mature site. You should always favor existing tags; only create new tags when you feel you can make a strong case that your question does cover a new topic that nobody else has asked about before on this site.

Which isn't very explicit. It's obvious to me that there should be a tag, because c is a computing language and if the question is in c you want to group it as such. But what about tags like . This is on here because the content of the programming problem happens to be about dna sequences. I think these types of tags need to be deleted, because we're not categorizing by content of a programming problem.

Instinctually if I'm parsing a DNA sequence (stored in a string) I would tag with and whatever language, not what's stored in the string. Am I thinking about this correctly? Is there any FAQ or post anywhere that actually supports my desire to eliminate such tags?

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2 Answers

There sure are, try reading the links from the tag-creation tag wiki:

If you're ever unsure, just start a discussion on Meta about whether the tag should be created. It can be a bit confusing on Stack Overflow since not all these rules existed when tagging first started, and there's a lot of not-so-great tags floating around.

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I agree, yet disagree. Tags serve 2 purposes:

  • Identify what category a question falls into
  • Expand on the title, helping potential answerers know if they would be any help or not.

In the example you gave using a DNA-sequence, tagging it would be appropriate, as you would often treat it differently than a string that said "Orange Pancakes". Tagging it as well as would be the most beneficial to the question asker, and would help someone glancing at a question identify what the question is over.

Generally, I would create new tags (as I work with areas that SO is lacking in) if it:

  • can describe the question "This question is a question about insert tag name, and can be summerized as such.
  • Programming language is not found, nor any synonyms are available (happened to me several times)
  • Covers a new topic, that SO has not tagged yet (say, P2P data using flashes and cameras between phones)

I would NOT make a new tag if it:

  • is a typo
  • is a fairly common problem in another tag area, using the same language
  • uses 2 or 3 different tags would help just the same
  • condenses 2 or more tags into one
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Interesting, your opinion •Expand on the title is actually an exact opposite as to one of the links animuson posted. Where they state Don't try to summarize your question using the tags –  Mike Nov 14 '12 at 16:59
    
I am not saying you should summarize your question using tags, but they can be a valuable tool to help clarify your title if (like I do) you have trouble writing 'good' titles that perfectly describe your question(s) –  Grammar Nov 14 '12 at 17:01
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