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Across the Stack Exchange network, tags appear before the user-given title of the question inside the HTML <title> element:

 <title>javascript - What does jQuery.fn mean? - Stack Overflow</title>

This typically happens when a relevant tag is not mentioned in the title — beneficial for SERPs. Here it's acceptable that the tag "html" is lower-case, despite the mismatch with "CSS" in the body of the question:

tag in title

In other cases, the lack of capitalization in tags within the <title> makes the Stack Exchange search result look "messy" and less curated, for example:

enter image description here

What's the significance?

Folks seeing improper capitalization in SERPs may be less inclined to click. It could seem that a negligent person wrote the question and forgot to capitalize "google analytics". This can consciously or subconsciously signal that other content on SO is poor quality. too.

While this may seem minor (and perhaps it is), continual optimization can be a good way to stay on top and improve click-through rate across the whole Stack Exchange network.

It's not just about Stack Overflow

SO is doing well in terms of visits from organic search, but the same cannot always be said about other, good-quality Stack Exchange sites. In both cases, there's always room for improvement — especially when not that difficult:

  • Tags are automatically converted to lower-case.
  • Changing to upper-case where appropriate can be crowd-sourced.

Capitalization won't be correct 100% of the time, but it's better than being wrong 100% of the time. Correct capitalization for tags would be:

  • HTML
  • jQuery
  • Google Analytics
  • string
  • quantitative data

For SERPs, some could be re-written:

String - Question goes here... - Stack Overflow
Quantitative data - Question goes here... - Stack Overflow

Some shouldn't:

jQuery - Question goes here... - Stack Overflow

There's another question at the heart of this: Why weren't tags capitalized to begin with?

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7  
Why should tags be capitalised? That doesn't add any value, and only increases the changes of mistyping them. –  Martijn Pieters Jun 13 '13 at 12:27
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Because a well-written <title> element can dramatically improve click-through rate in organic search results –  Baumr Jun 13 '13 at 12:30
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As for mistyping, if you try and use upper-case letters in tags now, they are converted to lower-case — the implementation is already there and would just need to be reversed –  Baumr Jun 13 '13 at 12:32
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I don't think Stack Overflow has to worry about SEO results; maintaining the proper capitalisation on tags is a huge extra stack of functionality, just for a (perceived) possibility that there is less click-through from Google? –  Martijn Pieters Jun 13 '13 at 12:33
    
I think if SE hasn't got a problem, it's the click-through rate from searchmachines. Also, so you'Re suggesting those tags: [HTML], [VB.NET], [JAVA], [GOOGLE-APP-ENGINE] and [WINDOWS-PHONE-8]...capitalizing all tags is not an option. –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 13 '13 at 12:34
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@M.NightDemonbobby: I'm not suggesting ALL-CAPS, but proper, English capitalization: Google-Analytics, Search-engine-optimization, HTML, JavaScript, etc. –  Baumr Jun 13 '13 at 12:35
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But Html is not correct...there's html closer to being correct...wait, are you still talking about display in the page title, or are you talking about tags in general? –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 13 '13 at 12:36
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@MartijnPieters: It's an estimate because I don't have access to StackExchange's CTR data — however, as a rule of thumb, better <title> elements lead to better CTR –  Baumr Jun 13 '13 at 12:37
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@M.NightDemonbobby: two birds with one stone, why not have the appropriate, HTML appear in both SERPs and on-site? –  Baumr Jun 13 '13 at 12:38
    
So we'd basically need a pseudo-case-sensitivity? While entering the tags in the tag field they're case-insensitive, but at some point (like in the tag wiki) the proper cased version can be entered and set? –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 13 '13 at 12:40
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@M.NightDemonbobby: Exactly. And then presumably someone has to maintain the 'correct' capitalisation for each tag. Can you see the edit reverts for HTML versus html coming yet? I don't see the benefits outweighing the costs here. –  Martijn Pieters Jun 13 '13 at 12:42
    
@MartijnPieters: Yeah...I already thought about the "holy crusades of capitalization" and the resulting questions here. –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 13 '13 at 12:47
1  
@MartijnPieters: because you can't see the benefits without Google Analytics data from StackExchange sites –  Baumr Jun 13 '13 at 12:47
    
@MartijnPieters: On the other site, can you imagine the storm unleashing when changing [Java] to [JAVA] and [JavaScript] to [JAVAScript]? That must be one hell of fun! –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 13 '13 at 12:50
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@M.NightDemonbobby, Java is always Java, and JavaScript is JavaScript — the capitalization you suggest could be easily shot down... why would anyone try to change such a popular tag? A high reputation score is required already... –  Baumr Jun 13 '13 at 12:54

2 Answers 2

It's arguably minor, but I find this difficult to disagree with.

In the context of a page title, javascript is not a tag (where the implicit convention is to use lowercase). When it is used to start a sentence, not doing it right does look odd. That's because it is wrong, twice. Sentences begin with a capital letter AND JavaScript is a proper noun.

One way to solve this without adding a new layer of specific rules ("HTML", "jQuery") would be looking in the tag's wiki for the correct way to write the term. A simple, case-insensitive grep would do.

This works for the top 10 tags without requiring any changes in the existing wiki text:

C# is a multi-paradigm programming language...

Java is an object-oriented language and runtime environment (JRE)...

jQuery is a cross-browser JavaScript library...

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4  
Good idea with the Wiki! –  Baumr Jun 13 '13 at 13:07

Using capitalization is a good idea, for SEO/ SERPs, for keeping our website organized, and because it respects proper English usage, for proper nouns. Many SO tags are proper nouns, e.g. JavaScript, MS Access. Despite that, I don't think SO should capitalize tags. This is why:

  • Trademarks, company names and branding guidelines must be correct. That will make more work for moderators. Users should read tag wiki's for guidance e.g. is only for questions about character strings, not for MS Word questions, but they often do not. See how many questions are improperly tagged with now.
  • A new search engine for Stack Exchange debuted in December 2012. Regarding case:

    Quoted phrases are exact matches except for case-sensitivity...

So search results are the same in count and content for text search,
"As System Admin" = "as system admin" and
as system admin = As System Admin.
The same is true for tags,
tag:JavaScript = tag:javascript and
tag:C++ = tag:c++.
More accurately, mixed-case tags are converted to lower case, e.g. [tag:JavaScript] becomes .
So case-sensitivity is always ignored, won't even display for tags.

To capitalize tags, you need to change the SO search engine. Let's say that is easy to do. The new SO search was rolled out to all SE sites. That means "re-educating" all SE sites to use mixed-case tags. It will require time and energy. Consider whether it is worth it, and if now is the right time to do it.

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