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I am wondering what I should do when tagging a question that fits multiple tags, in the particular case were the question might belong to general as well as more specific tags.

Let me give you an example to illustrate this:

Let's say I have a question about ASP.NET MVC 3.0 and I use C# as my main language.

The following tags could apply:

  • c#
  • .net
  • .net-4.0
  • asp.net
  • asp.net-4.0
  • asp.net-mvc
  • asp.net-mvc-3

Tagging with C# might make .NET redundant (I don't think C# is used anywhere else outside of the .NET scope), and tagging with certainly makes and redundant. However, my question would get a better visibility with tags such as , and , as probably no one browses a tag as specific as .

How shall I tag my questions? Using more general or more specific tags, or a mix of the two?

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A similar problem on Programmers would be questions tagged career-development and careeer. I usually do both, but that's only two, so it doesn't usually cause a problem with the 5 tag limit. –  NickC Mar 23 '11 at 22:51
    
@Renesis Those two tags have been merged on Programmers. –  Anna Lear Apr 13 '11 at 17:23

6 Answers 6

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Tag synonyms are great but I have always thought there should be tag tags, too. The name probably needs work :)

If SO had this feature, your tags would be reduced from 7 to 3:

  • c# — Top level tag
  • asp.net-4.0 — Automatically grouped into asp.net and .net-4.0, which are both in .net
  • asp.net-mvc-3 — Automatically grouped into asp.net-mvc, which is in asp.net, which is in .net.

As a sum, your question would now be in , , , , , , . You just tagged it as specifically as possible and didn't have to think about it. Synonyms would play nicely with this, too.

As it is right now, there's no way around this, you should be specific, of course, but include the "parent" tag if you haven't hit the 5 tag limit.

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3  
Why the downvotes? This makes good sense. –  Xavier Poinas Mar 23 '11 at 23:25
2  
well worded, I requested this as an implicit tagging hierarchy which is status-declined (atm at least). Please feel free to elaborate your example as an answer there (as a bonus, I'll probably set a bounty there again sooner or later) –  Tobias Kienzler Apr 18 '11 at 11:13
    
Tag hierarchy. Awesome idea. –  ThinkingStiff Jun 21 '12 at 18:27

I recently asked several related questions about these problems. To my question What are the guidelines for using version-specific tags?, Jeff clearly explains that version specific tags should be used only if you really have a problem with a feature introduced in that version:

In general, you should strongly avoid creating version tags.

I would only use version tags when the question content is irrevocably tied to a specific version of something and can never be relevant to earlier versions or later versions.

In other words, it is perfectly sufficient to tag your question when it contains c# code. You do not need to say that it is because it uses LINQ features. c# is c#!

About 90% of questions tagged with and are general with no version specific feature and should be tagged with .

Example:

If you have a problem with some logic in the controller or with action filter, and you also include part of a view written in Razor (which is actually not related to the problem), it does not make it version specific question. If you have a problem with Razor then it is a version specific question.

A tag hierarchy feature I proposed was closed as duplicate of a question which clearly describes how to browse set of related tags — * can be used as wild card when defining favorite tags.

In my opinion further version specific tags should not be created by users but by moderators after discussion on meta if the new tag is needed. Used version should be information included in every question.

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If the question relates to a specific version of the software then I'd quote the version, but if it is applicable to all versions of the software then I'd use the 'parent' tags even though the error was actually generated in a specific tag.

So if the question is specific to asp.net-mvc-3 - then that's the tag; but if its general to asp.net-mvc then regardless of the version the issue arose in I'd use that and so on.

If this is the problem area then all of the other tags mentioned will be implied in any event, but I'd still probably tag it c# anyway.

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Seriously - do you really expect askers to cross-check if the same problem occurs for other versions they are probably not using? –  oberlies Sep 20 '12 at 22:45

Well, there is a use for using both specific and generic tags. Depending on your question, you may want a specific audience of people to answer your question. However, if you question is not as specific, you can always use more generic tags and there is a possibility that more people might be able to help.

Generic tags might make more people who are not following the more specific tags to find your question easier.

Specific tags allow people who are following those specific, usually niche, tags to see it and answer it quick.

If you get too specific, you might not find an answer, otherwise, generic tags will be a bit broader, and more people will take a look.

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You are saying you have a question about ASP.NET MVC 3.0 then you should use those tags. I believe you should be specific in tagging. In your case, it probably should be and . This would convey all related fields too.

The idea is, when you use tag like , you do not have to explicitly mention that this belongs to separately right? This information is implicitly understood by the users. So based on this, tag specifically.

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3  
But then my problem is that users browsing the asp.net won't be seeing my questions, whereas they should, since asp.net-mvc-3 is really a subset of asp.net –  Xavier Poinas Feb 21 '11 at 22:10
    
I agree with @Xavier - I think the primary point of tags is to lead people to the question, then secondarily to lead users from the question to similar questions. –  NickC Mar 23 '11 at 23:01

In this case, I would say that you may want to forget about versions and stuff (like, I think, ".net-4.0"), because I haven't seen "versions" in anything. For instance, if you ask a question about iphones, you aren't going to put the tag "iPhone-4.2.1 in, are you?

I think you should just keep it simple. Do very general, broad terms, but try to focus on a particular thing. For instance, a question on programming on a Mac would tags like the language, maybe "cocoa", and something about a particular problem, such as "nsview".

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