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I've noticed a couple cases on Stack overflow, and then searching meta where there are multiple tags with the same intent.

I'm not talking about cases like the Flex tag and the flex3 tag, there should be some separation here since Flex would be version independent. The case I'm talking about is tags like [flex3] and [adobe-flex3], or another one I saw was [media center] and [media centre] These tags are really trying to tag the same thing, but if they were to be combined into just [flex3] or [media center], people will still try to use the alternative, mostly because in the [media centre] case, this is the correct spelling to some while [media center] is the correct spelling to others.

So I would like to suggest, that like closing questions, when a certain number of users, with a high enough rep vote to back-end combine them, these multiple tags would be treated as one. So if I am reviewing [flex3] I would get results from [adobe-flex3] as well.

I think this will make questions and answers more visible based on tagging intent. and reduce the number of tags I need to follow to see everything that is going on in my area of interest.

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I like this idea. I find that (to use your example) I end up putting both [flex3] and [adobe-flex3] on my questions to make sure that I hit the most viewers. Having them combine would remove that need. – Vaccano Jan 29 '10 at 16:51
@John Smithers - that question has to do with deprecating tags that no longer have questions in it (at least that's my understanding). I'm talking about tags full of questions that are really talking about the same thing. – invertedSpear Jan 29 '10 at 20:00
If both "media center" and "media centre" exist, then one of them is deprecated by definition, because we only want one of them. One solution for this is the black list, which is still not implemented, but whatever you choose and the end you want to eliminate "duplicate" tags somehow. The duplicates are deprecated. After a mod cleaned it up, they do not have any questions in that duplicated tag. So I see no difference to your proposal. – Ladybug Killer Jan 29 '10 at 20:33
@John Smithers - I guess in the end the questions are more visible to everyone, so there wouldn't be a difference in that aspect. The problem with a black list is that both media-center and media-centre are correct, depending on locality. Black listing one would require explanation so that the user understands why they have to spell it a certain way, which may be wrong to them, least it cause confusion. Synonyms or linked tags becomes transparent or at least obvious to the user. – invertedSpear Jan 29 '10 at 21:00

Forget auto-combining tags. This is better implemented as tag synonyms; tags that mean the same thing.

That will avoid the inevitable questions, "why does [abc] get changed to [xyz]?" (But it will start the inevitable, "Why does my search match [xyz] when I didn't search [xyz]?" You can't win.

share|improve this answer
Honestly combined or synonyms would make me happy, and I think users would get used to changing, or the un-obviously matched strings once they realize they mean the same thing. I'd only want to see this feature avail to rather high rep scores (much higher than my piddly 650 on SO). By keeping it at the 5k-10k rep range and requiring a large vote majority (say 75% of min 10 votes) then you would ensure that only quality combinations or synonyms are formed – invertedSpear Jan 29 '10 at 20:06
Synonyms avoid the "which one is correct" arguments (think British vs American spellings). Right now only moderators can merge tags. Same should go for creating/assigning synonyms. Playing around in the existing tag database simply affects too many posts to leave to the whims of high-rep users. Requests for synonyms from the community could go through meta. – Robert Cartaino Jan 29 '10 at 21:04

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