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Why are there so many tags which are not used?

Are they not helpful? In such a case why do they exist?

http://stackoverflow.com/tags?page=414&tab=popular

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1 Answer 1

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Some of those tags are tag synonyms. When those tags are used on questions, Stack Exchange automatically rewrites to the standard tag.

In other cases, 1 question has that tag. When only one question has a tag, it is not displayed with a count.

In some other cases, no questions have that tag and it is not a tag synonym. In that case, the tag will automatically be deleted at 0 UTC each day.

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note that tags which only have 1 question in them will be auto-deleted after 6 months. (the tag, not the question) –  Jeff Atwood Feb 28 '11 at 5:44
    
When those tags are used on questions, Stack Exchange automatically rewrites to the standard tag. Does Stack Exchange then removes the tag synonyms from that question, leaving that tag with 0 questions tagged to it? –  Alpine Feb 28 '11 at 6:01
    
@Alpine It retags the question with the master tag, so the question always has at least one tag. –  waiwai933 Feb 28 '11 at 6:02
    
But is the synonym tag removed from that question? –  Alpine Feb 28 '11 at 6:03
    
@Alpine Yes. The synonym tag is replaced with the master tag. –  waiwai933 Feb 28 '11 at 6:04
    
Then the synonym tag is left with 0 questions tagged to it,isn't it? Resulting in deletion of that tag –  Alpine Feb 28 '11 at 6:05
    
@Alpine Oh, I see what you're saying. Yes, the tag would have 0 questions, but that the system is designed not to delete tag synonyms. –  waiwai933 Feb 28 '11 at 6:08
    
Then if someone creates a tag synonym will it always be containing 0 questions? Thus resulting in many unused tags –  Alpine Feb 28 '11 at 6:12
    
@Alpine Yes, that's correct, except when the tag had questions before being made a tag synonym. In that case, someone will manually have to go through and retag the questions. Note that they're not completely unused, though—if they were to be deleted, we wouldn't have any synonyms at all. –  waiwai933 Feb 28 '11 at 6:14
    
So tag synonym don't get deleted even if they have no questions only individual tags with no questions get deleted? Still the no of tag synonyms are large. Thanks for the help. –  Alpine Feb 28 '11 at 6:22
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