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Who gets the "creation ownership" of a tag when they're merged?

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Well generally when tags are merged, the tags with the least amount of questions are re-tagged to the same as the one with the most, so the person who created the more popular tag will be the one counted when it comes to that badge.

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that would be my expectation too –  Kip Nov 16 '09 at 14:04
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Or speaking more generally, the badge goes to the creator of the target of the merge. –  ベレアー アダム Nov 16 '09 at 16:11
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