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This is more of a "research problem" wrt UI's, but I think the tagging system needs a better UI overall.

Assuming that tags are supposed to categorize content (akin to sticking labels on things), a good tag system should make things easy to find.

But what you have is a kind of soup of things with labels on them.

You can search through the soup pretty easily. Tags as they are, are kind of browsable through the search box UI. You've made it work, kinda.

But I don't think browsing on SE sites, especially those that house multiple topics, is as pleasant or clear as it could be. What would be clearer? I'm not exactly sure, but that's why I said this was a bit of a "research" problem.

The newest proposed regarding music.se is to combine all music interest into a single site, instead tons of smaller, less significant mini-sites.

To have violins, guitars, piano, music-theory and song-writing all on one site, you have to be able to organize things quite well.

I think the tagging system is sufficient. Even with the 5 tag limit on each post, tagging is enough to cleanly divide the site, but its the front end UI to the tagging system that needs work.

Tags replace folders, and tags are arguably better because they don't force you to repeat structure. For example, if using "folders" on SO:

Folders are bad example 1:

C++
    operators
    variables

You'd also have

C#
    operators
    variables

Or you could do

Folders are bad example 2:

operators
    C++
    C#
variables
    C++
    C#

with repeated structure. With tags you essentially get "virtual folders"

Tags are good example 1:

C++  & operators
C++  & variables
C#   & operators
C#   & variables

Can't do that with folders, and the beauty is, you can VIEW tags as folders.

So perhaps a user-configurable navigation structure that presents a tree view.

Root Tags

You select your "root" tags, for example, piano and guitar (or these can be hard-set by the site manually OR tags can become root tags when there is excess of 10,000 or so posts in them)

piano
    technique
    fingering

guitar
    phrasing
    strings
    effects

So, with piano as one of your/the site's "root tags", the site takes on an artificial folder structure on top of the tag system.

Each post must contain a "root" tag, which roughly defines the site's scope (kind of like how MSO has "discussion" "support" etc). This helps you define the scope of the site, and in addition it gives you the opportunity to create a hierachical browse mode, instead of tag-soup mode.

So one possible UI for a front page that has root tags might be

(Where piano, guitar and song are defined as root tags, and the topics shown below are popular tags that also have that root tag.)

site descr

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I would suggest that root tags be voted in (like synonyms) rather than added based on the number of posts using it. –  Brian Reichle Apr 17 '11 at 1:31
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I believe "Tag Hierarchies" have been discussed and declined before. –  agf Nov 10 '11 at 4:42
    
They've previously discussed adding many mini-site filters (like facebook.stackoverflow.com) to Gaming, in order to organize around root topics like you've described. I can't remember if they discussed applying this to music.SE... let me go check the podcast. –  Jeremy Banks Nov 10 '11 at 5:57
    
In Stack Exchange Podcast #16 Joel mentioned that they've actually discussed the possibility of having filters like guitars.music.stackexchange.com, but they wanted to see how well Facebook.SO worked out before they created new ones. This is discussed further in How are new Stack Overflow mini-sites created?, but this may not be up-to-date. –  Jeremy Banks Nov 10 '11 at 6:15
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Jeff has not outlawed a hierarchy of depth one. We are probably going to explore it at some point. –  waffles Nov 10 '11 at 6:17
    
Your link discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/205/… is 404'd –  cbroughton Nov 13 '11 at 23:38
    
@waffles - More than 2 years since your hierarchy comment; any movement down that path? –  JoshDM Apr 17 at 16:15

1 Answer 1

I feel that tag categorization is necessary and can be applied with a new functional enhancement using new (non-existing) functionality, "tag categorization" tags.

In general, a way to implement it would be to have new "category" tags (... "tag tags"), which would appear differently in the tag list page (emboldened or otherwise), which could not be applied to questions.

When you create a tag or edit a tag wiki, you add the tag to a category. A tag can only be in one category. If your reputation is high enough, you can create a new category during this process which would have the life-cycle of a standard tag.

Using the Movies & TV site as an example, they would have tag categories of (for all movie title tags), (for all television title tags), (for all genre tags: "western", "horror", "drama", "sci-fi", "genre-general"), (for the multiple tags regarding plot concerns), and (for stuff like "terminology").

After implementation, work would require the community to visit each tag and assign it a category, or create a category for it. Uncategorized tags would fall under category , the resolution of which could possibly be gamified with review badges or similar.

This could help clear up issues like the Arqade site having hundreds of game title tags everywhere, making searching for any utility tag without knowing the name beforehand nigh impossible.

I discuss the relevant question further here.

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On Mi Yodeya we resorted to creating a meta post for a tag catalogue so we could describe these groupings, but it's a huge task and we haven't completed it. It also moves the documentation fairly far away from the tags themselves; ideally there should be bidirectional links between a category and its member tags. –  Monica Cellio Apr 11 at 21:19
    
I'd add functionality to sort tags by... category or to view category tags themselves; category tags would be tagged as {tag:category}. The only way to do this sort of thing in the current "flat" system would be to prefix every existing tag with '{category}_', or even a prefix like '{c}_', but even that makes tags unwieldy. –  JoshDM Apr 11 at 21:38

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