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On this question:

Should the [float] tag be banned?

I made what I believed to be a reasonable argument about the tag, which was that the tag can always be qualified with if necessary. And that was that.

Or so I thought. But then I saw this question:

Get rid of the "scope" tag?

So clearly this issue isn't going away.

Seriously, do we really need to be this precise about the tags? Or should we be more concerned about genuinely bad tags like ?

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3  
Worth noting: As a moderator, I don't have the power to blacklist tags. Only The Atwood and his Team can do that. –  Robert Harvey Mar 28 '11 at 22:07
    
Can you synonym it to useless-tag though, to give it notice? –  RichardTheKiwi Mar 28 '11 at 22:26
1  
@Richard: Possibly. But I would find that highly counter-intuitive if I were a new user. –  Robert Harvey Mar 28 '11 at 22:27
    
How about faq-on-tagging with the tag excerpt providing help? –  RichardTheKiwi Mar 28 '11 at 22:28
    
@Richard: IMHO, this is a solution in search of a problem. –  Robert Harvey Mar 29 '11 at 2:02
    
@Rob I thought it appropriate for a question seeking a problem, lol –  RichardTheKiwi Mar 29 '11 at 2:29
    
There was a similar question a couple of days ago about the [table] tag. –  Spudley Mar 29 '11 at 12:42

2 Answers 2

On this question:

Should the [float] tag be banned?

I made what I believed to be a reasonable argument about the [float] tag, which was that the [float] tag (...)

Well, I never read the quoted question, aside from the title, and I read up until this far of this question thinking that referred to a programming data type. So... that pretty much answers the question.

I know that when I'm looking for a solution to a problem, it's really disheartening to find information on a certain topic, but yet see other completely unrelated information mixed in.

Tags like are, well, problematic because they're pretty much useless, but at the same time, that uselessness doesn't really detract from the ability to find information because no one is going to be searching in that tag. To me, this is more of a low-level housekeeping thing. Defining clear boundaries between topics in tags is far more important.


As I mention in my answer here, the ideal way to deal with these situations is to split up the set of questions in the ambiguous tag (in this case, without even looking at the questions, something like and ) and then blacklist the original unclear tag. For the most part this is a manual process, though it would be helpful for mods to be armed with some more sophisticated tag manipulation tools. (I understand why Jeff may be hesitant to do this, as there have been a few... accidents... in the past, even with the existing tools.)

With regards to blacklisting tags, and why I support the idea of diamond moderators being able to blacklist tags, please see my answer here.

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I think it's important to actually focus better on tags having a much more concrete and understandable meaning, moreso than necessarily a singular meaning at all. Multiple meanings are fine, as long as it isn't ambiguous. In essence, it should be that the target expert audience of the site should be able to understand the tag fairly intuitively and not be confused as to its meaning.

For example, is fairly universal in its meaning to programmers, even though it is both a common word and it has variances between programming languages. But in all scenarios, it has most of the same meaning, the context dependency doesn't hurt its ability to classify questions across the site.

When the individual word is insufficient to truly clarify what is being spoken of, it may mislead experts as to what the question is about, and may waste time. Even with dependency on other tags, users aren't necessarily going to know which one is the primary tag - is a user new to the site going to immediately know that a question tagged "float" is going to mean a floating point number if and only if it isn't accompanied by the "css" tag? It's important that tags aren't ambiguous in their meaning, because there's an expectation of simplicity.

However, there's a bit of a hitch I think, and it's that it is difficult and perhaps unwise to go through these at the speed that it seems to be running at. Between , , and , there are almost 6000 posts to handle, give or take a few for intersection. That's a lot, and disambiguation is a long job. Scope was brought up in early March, while both of the latter two came in just the previous week. I'm all for disambiguation (I do plan to restart , once I get better time), but it is a big job and there are often much more pressing matters that have to be dealt with (such as really bad tags).

So in summary: I think it's important to make clear tags that have concrete and intuitive meanings, which may sometimes mean more singular meanings. Precision is important, and is of similar concern as dealing with bad tags. But I don't think it's an extremely pressing matter, especially when thinking of the colossus that is disambiguating some of the more ancient tags that we have.

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