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With the tag page changed, there are some.. let's call them "controversial" opinions whether it's an improvement or not; I'd rather not comment on that, but point out a certain "feature" in the tag excerpts wikis which are shown on the \tags page:

Case in point from the TeX-SE tags page:

http://tex.stackexchange.com/tags?page=2&tab=popular

enter image description here

The [header-footer] tag wiki excerpt reads:

TeX and friends give you the resources to put text in the header and footer of your document. This tag is for questions relating to this.

Huh?

I thought it was just someone was being lazy not providing a proper tag description. But it turned out that this happens on a lot more tags, to a different degree. The layout script, or whatever it is, tries to be clever, and removes some stuff in front of the tag excerpts to avoid repetition, presumably.

The cases I noticed so far:

  • "Questions tagged with [foo]"
  • "This tag is about"
  • "Choose this tag if your question is"
  • "Use the [foo] tag for"
  • "[foo] is"
  • "This tag"

.. and probably more, I'm too lazy to search.

The point is -- the script tries to be clever and removes whole sentences, leaving weird and incomplete description, which is what tag wikis are all about.

Now, the questions:

  • Is this or a bug?
  • How exactly does it work?
  • What template for tag excerpts should we use to avoid ridiculous entries like the one shown?
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see my update for details –  Jeff Atwood Mar 13 '11 at 10:17
1  
I have just filed a feature request for a live preview while editing tag wiki excerpts for those interested: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/95323/… –  hippietrail Jun 16 '11 at 3:17
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2 Answers

up vote 0 down vote accepted

The layout script, or whatever it is, tries to be clever, and removes some stuff in front of the tag excerpts to avoid repetition, presumably

Correct.

You can take a look at the tags on

  • stackoverflow.com
  • superuser.com
  • serverfault.com

(all page 1 only, for now)

to get a sense of what the "avoid repetition" regex is looking for. More detail:

^.{0,40}?
(
(this\stag\s(is)?\s?)  # this tag .. this tag is|about ...
|
(used\sto\s)           # this tag is used to ...
|
(the\s[^\s]+\stag\s)   # the {foo} tag ...
|
(the\stag\s[^\s]+)     # the tag {foo} ...
|
(\s(is|are)\s)         # blah blah blah is|are ...
)

Test set

Python is a dynamically and strongly typed programming language that encourages readability ...

{header-footer} is about the resources TeX and friends give you to put text in the header and footer of your document ...

PlayStation 3, often abbreviated PS3, is a popular video-game console by Sony, released on 2006 ...

Use the [foo] tag for stuff ...

Choose this tag if your question is about stuff ...

This tag is about stuff ...

Django, "the web framework for perfectionists with deadlines", is a Python-based framework for creating web applications. With a ...

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the predominant markup language used for creating web pages. In ...

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form. ...

This tag is used for questions about developing for Microsoft Windows using the Win32 API. The Win32 ...

Eclipse is an IDE - primarily used for Java - with a very large user base and ecosystem. See "about ...

The tex-core tag refers to questions that are independent of formats and macro packages ...

Adobe Flash is a cross-platform multimedia runtime used to embed animations, video, and interactive ...

Silverlight is Microsoft's cross-browser, cross platform plug-in for media experiences and rich inte ...

Choose this tag if your question is about specific symbols, for instance ...

Xcode is Apple's integrated development environment (IDE) for development for its Mac OS X ([osx] ...

This tag indicates that the bug/feature/observation it is attached to is intentional and not subject ...

The {floats} tag deals with the floating environments `figure` and `table` as well as with custom-made floats, and 

This tag is for basic questions about probability and for questions in which one wants a probability or ...

We'll certainly tweak it, but repetition is really bad on that page and has to be removed. I recommend reworking your page 1 tag wiki excerpts to at least have common patterns in wording.

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11  
I understand the motivation, but why do you think a regex is a good solution for this? If I understand correctly, you're trying to remove the subject from the excerpt sentence. That's natural language parsing. For the same reason you wouldn't parse HTML with regex, you shouldn't parse English with regex. This kind of collateral damage isn't surprising. The question is, is it worth it? –  ire_and_curses Mar 11 '11 at 17:36
10  
Why not leverage the community instead, as you have done so successfully in other places, and encourage them by site mechanics to fix the page to display excerpts with less repetition? –  ire_and_curses Mar 11 '11 at 17:37
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This is a bug.

As ire_and_curses suggests, repetitious tag wiki excerpts should be edited.

Often people try to convey useful information before the word "is", for example here. Mangling them automatically will silently mess this up, displaying a tag summary that may make no sense. It forces you to rephrase to circumvent the mangling.

share|improve this answer
    
Another example: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/781/… –  Waggers Nov 16 '11 at 9:29
    
Indeed, I just edited three tags on page one of Ask Different just to get around the mangling. For example, The excerpt for lion had been "marketed as Lion by Apple." –  Old Pro Jun 2 '12 at 20:22
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