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It seems that as SO gets bigger, less questions are finding people that can answer them, a question may only stray on the home page for 30 minutes these days, however I don’t like the idea of having 101 separate sites.

At present to find all questions about “.net” I have to look at lots of different tags. E.g. “winforms”, asp.net, c#, ..

There are clearly a few groupings of tags we could define including.

  • “.net” – c#, asp.net, winform, etc
  • “web development” – includes asp.net jscirpt, jsp, etc
  • “database”

A home page could then be defined for each “group of tags”.

This would then let people look at SO and see a list of questions they are much more likely to be interested in.

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Sounds like a good idea, but I'm not sure how much value would be gained by adding it. You can already see 'related tags' when looking at a Tag page. –  jjnguy Sep 20 '10 at 14:32
related: Implicit tagging hierarchy –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 20 '10 at 14:35
@Tobias, I think we have more a graph then a tree –  Ian Ringrose Sep 20 '10 at 14:42
I'm not entirely sure what you're asking for here. A manually-defined set of tag groupings would be a nightmare, but automatically-generated sets already exist (in the form of "related" tags, as the jjnguy notes). Are you perhaps asking for an expanded UI for related tags? If so, perhaps it could be integrated into the existing Info page for each tag (that gives you the "home page" you're after). –  Shog9 Sep 20 '10 at 15:29
@Shog9: Does anybody other than organizers and mods actually use the tag "Info" page? –  Aarobot Sep 20 '10 at 15:33
@Aarobot: beats me. Given the questions that show up here, I'm not even sure anyone uses "related tags" - and those are actually on each question list! –  Shog9 Sep 20 '10 at 15:52
@Shog: I think that the aim here is to find some middle ground between individual SE sites and the (IMO misguided) let's-merge-everything-that-sounds-kinda-similar attitude being displayed by some team members. In other words, put it all on one site but have a way for people to limit their view to questions in their real field, and specifically a way that scales less dreadfully than the interesting/ignored tags features. I'm not sure if it's a good idea, or even a practical one, but I can say that any solution that routinely requires users to visit a tag page is a total failure. –  Aarobot Sep 20 '10 at 16:59
Unfortunately it ends up sounding like a hierarchy, and we all know that Hierarchies Are Bad. But at the same time people are ignoring the elephant in the room, which is that tags don't scale well. –  Aarobot Sep 20 '10 at 17:01
@Aarobot: your ideas intrigue me... But info page or "tag home page", it's still another page, while Related is right there - if the UI has to change somehow, I suspect making the Related sidebar more powerful would probably fair better than yet another page. –  Shog9 Sep 23 '10 at 2:26
@Shog: The related sidebar is generally only for questions, so I can't immediately see how it would work for this. It's an unpopular idea with the team right now, but I think that as sites like SO grow larger they'll eventually need to be segregated into independent sites that are only loosely linked by migrations etc. Those sites are the "tag groups" in my mind. Of course they don't actually have to be sites, they can just be alternate views of a site, but if it's actually a problem worth solving then it'll take more than a free-for-all tagging system to do it. –  Aarobot Sep 23 '10 at 14:33
@Aarobot: I guess I really don't have a clue what you/Ian are proposing then. Ah, well. –  Shog9 Sep 23 '10 at 16:26
@Shog: Actually I'm not proposing anything here. I was just explaining what I perceive to be his rationale and what an "ideal" solution might look like. I honestly don't think that any tag-based solution would ever work for this due to the ad-hoc nature of tagging. –  Aarobot Sep 23 '10 at 16:56

1 Answer 1

At present to find all questions about “.net” I have to look at lots of different tags. E.g. “winforms”, asp.net, c#, ..

These are in fact very different things.

I would spend zero time in [winforms] because I haven't done win32 GUI development in YEARS, whereas I deal with ASP.NET every day.

As for [c#], ask a vb.net developer how much time they'd spend in that tag. Same .NET runtime though, right?

To mindlessly group these as "all the same stuff a .NET developer would be interested in" is just plain crazy.

A home page could then be defined for each “group of tags”.

You can already do this by clicking through to relevant tags and browsing around, particularly on the related tags sidebar.

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Sports analogy: Some of us prefer going to a sports site rather than a collection of independent football, basketball, baseball sites. Why? The content isn't always a perfect match for our interests but it's efficient (quick summary) and we may find something interesting we weren't looking for (Soccer, etc). This is why I'm frustrated with the loss of certain meta-tags and why you keep getting requests for features like this. –  timepilot Sep 23 '10 at 17:39
@Jeff Atwood: "You can already do this by clicking through to relevant tags and browsing around, particularly on the related tags sidebar." That's like saying you can find good restaurants by driving around town to look for them. Give us a "Restaurant Row" and then we know where to go to find them. (Based on some of the recent blog posts, I feel like you guys are so focused on your ideas of "how things should be" that you are not listening to the people providing you with the solutions. JMTCW.) –  MikeSchinkel Sep 29 '10 at 0:17
@mikes here's your restaurant row: stackexchange.com/sites -- now eat up! :) –  Jeff Atwood Sep 29 '10 at 3:35
@Jeff Atwood Awesome. Definitely headed in the right direction! –  MikeSchinkel Oct 21 '10 at 9:26
@mike we're adding cross-site tag sets in a day or two as well –  Jeff Atwood Oct 21 '10 at 9:30
@Jeff - Double awesome! Man, I'm lovin SE... :) –  MikeSchinkel Oct 21 '10 at 9:43
@Jeff - Also, and I plan to post this when I have the time to do a wireframe but I'd really like to see "reputation by tag" become very prominent on the site. For example, who on SO are PHP gurus vs. jQuery gurus vs. MySQL gurus. And I'm suggesting it should be plain obvious for everyone to see. I think that could significantly encourage more participation as it would let people who specialize get noticed for their tag reputation instead of just the top 10 or so users. –  MikeSchinkel Oct 21 '10 at 9:47
@Jeff - On our site (WordPress Answers) there are many sub-specialities for expertise and I'd love to know who, for example, is a WP e-Commerce expert vs. a WordPress+TinyMCE expert vs. a Custom Post Types expert, etc. –  MikeSchinkel Oct 21 '10 at 9:48

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