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Generally speaking, should tags be in the form of





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Missing reference to RFC 3092. – Richard Jul 6 '09 at 15:38
Perhaps the moderators could have the ability to 'migrate tags' which would take a tag like' vs2008' to 'Visual-Studio-2008' and they wouldn't need to be re-tagged individually – devinb Jul 6 '09 at 16:40
Jeff, could you please retitle this question so it's more easily searchable?… – Jon Seigel Jan 12 '10 at 13:52
You should drop what you're doing and use j-query! – Andrew Grimm Jun 9 '11 at 11:28
up vote 23 down vote accepted

which way will users search for this term on the broader Internet?

The most important factor by far. For example, I'm about to rename a bunch of tags on Server Fault which are in the form


I do not believe anyone types "windowsserver2008" into Google (or Bing, or whatever). I believe they type

Windows Server 2008

Which means the appropriate tag is


.. because dashes are treated as word breaks in every known search engine (and regular expressions, since forever). This is critical to get right because it means people will be able to find what they're looking for.

which form is more popular?

In the case where the search argument cannot be made -- for abstract terms, or technical terms that tend to be a "lump" without word breaks -- I tend to argue "survival of the fittest". Whichever tag has more questions associated, whichever tag is used by more people, should win.

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You need to be careful about character limits in tags. If you start adding too many hyphens, you will end up going over character limit and having your tag cut short. In those cases it is generally better to either do away with the hyphenation or to try and figure out some proper abbreviated forms. – TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 15:30
@TheTXI: If your tag is going over the limit with hyphens, odds are it's going to be over the limit without hyphens, too. Unless you're planning on tagging something a-b-c-d-e-f-g-h-i- etc, letter characters vastly outnumber hyphens. – XMLbog Jul 6 '09 at 15:34
Out of curiosity, I typed "windowsserver2008" into Google. They parsed it correctly and returned similar results to the spaced version (but with far fewer sponsored links). It is likely that this works for more common, unambiguous cases, but not for less common ones or those that are ambiguous. However, helicopterrotorblade returned usable results and sofacushionbuttons and spigotknobsetscrew returned correct "Did you mean" links. Apparently their DWIM module works. – Dennis Williamson Jul 7 '09 at 2:05


Users will inevitably try to create all variations of a tag, mostly unintentionally. That's was the basis of my original suggestion (Do 23,000+ Tags Need Tag Database Editors?).

Definitely come up with a simple statement of the preferred way to name all tags and let the "editors" nudge the tags into that definition. Edge cases can be handled individually. Ideally, this standard would fit in a ~10-word statement that you can place under the tag entry box. Something like...

Enter Message Tags: [___________________________________]
Use hyphens for multiple words (i.e foo-bar). Avoid abbreviations.

My personal opinion:

  • Prefer visual-studio to visualstudio - Even though "visualstudio" has a higher usage, programmers are used to camel case. Most people are not. As the Stack systems become more mainstream, it makes for a more familiar experience. Lower-case tags also makes combined words harder to read. Search engines will like it much better, too. That's a major consideration.
  • Prefer object-oriented to oo - Pretty much for the same reasons as stated above. Prefer the more verbose form for consistency and presentation. If a user is looking for "OO" and it is missing, they are much more likely to know to try "object-oriented" than the other way around; the person who does not know the abbreviation exists.
  • I'll think of more later.
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I think abreviations are okay where the usages has become completely ubiquitous. I don't think MS-WORD qualifies but, certainly, IBM is prefered to International Business Machines. And definitely SOLID, not SRP-OCP-LSP-ISP-DIP... all spelled out. – Robert Cartaino Jul 6 '09 at 16:14
You mean "single-responsibility-principle-open-closed-principle-liskov-substitution-princ‌​iple-interface-segregation-principle-dependency-inversion-principle," don't you? – phenry Jul 6 '09 at 16:25
Grr... You beat me to my edited expansion by two minutes! – Robert Cartaino Jul 6 '09 at 16:31
> "Tags are supposed to be a light-weight, nebulous cloud-thing, anyway. You can't get too crazy trying to pigeon-hole this stuff into some dogmatic cataloging system." Very much disagree. See my post here:… – Joel Coehoorn Jul 6 '09 at 16:32
In a nutshell: tagging for rich media are very different from tagging for text. – Joel Coehoorn Jul 6 '09 at 16:33
Yeah, I agree. I am removing the statement. While true from a purpose-of-multimedia-tags design perspective, it doesn't really fit the context of this discussion. – Robert Cartaino Jul 6 '09 at 16:40

If the terms "foo" and "bar" are distinct, I think they should tagged as "foo-bar" like "visual-studio" or "vampire-slaying".

If the terms are together, they should be tagged together like "coldfusion".

Basically just replace space with a hyphen in tags. The tag text box isn't really specific about how to combine words:

Combine multiple words into single-words, space to separate up to 5 tags (python c# ruby)

If you want people to be consistent you need at least an example of a multi-word tag in the parenthesized list of examples.

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Clarification (because I had to go look it up): The product name is "ColdFusion", not "Cold Fusion". I agree with Welbog that the tag for a StudlyCapped trade name should be a single word. – phenry Jul 6 '09 at 16:10
Simple. Because Cold-Fusion may actually imply a process recognized as Cold Fusion. This is the same reason why a company seeks out a trademarkable name, such as ColdFusion. The reasoning for the distinction is the same reasoning we should apply. – Lee Louviere Aug 15 '12 at 17:20

I would imagine that you would want to stick with whatever was the most popular and continue to push that as the convention for that particular set of tags. In some cases a separation of the words is ideal (such as feature-request) but in others it is not as good (visualstudio seems to be a much more favorable tag than visual-studio in SO as well as all of it's "subtags")

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I should note that on SO right now there is only a single question tagged as "visual-studio" as opposed to 3,428 as "visualstudio" – TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 15:29
candidate for rename IMO – Jeff Atwood Jul 6 '09 at 15:36
Yes. A rename to visual-studio ;) – Robert Cartaino Jul 6 '09 at 16:15
Agreed. We need to stay consistent with naming conventions. See: – Lee Louviere Aug 15 '12 at 17:21

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