# How should “compound” tags be handled?

A question I recently came across, Jquery and scope issues with \$.post, is tagged , , and .

Of those three, I don't really see the point of . I suppose there's some possibility that there would be a question about using jQuery and AJAX but not jQuery's AJAX, but this possibility seems slight.

I've seen a few other posts on meta in this vein, (including Merge [.net-generics] into [generics]? recently) that cover the same ground for other sets of tags, so it seems that there are quite a few of these "compound" tags.

By compound tags, I mean tags that are created by combining two or more other tags that could each stand alone (in particular, excluding tags that specify versions, or that disambiguate between truly different concepts with the same name).

As I see it, compound tags are just noise, and potentially lead to questions that have the compound tag but omit the independent "parent" tags. Is there some benefit to these that I'm missing?

Edit: A few examples: (edit again: I'm happy to report that several of these examples have since been eliminated, made synonyms with their general forms, or otherwise dealt with)

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These are such a pain... You can't just merge 'em, 'cause there are questions with nothing but this tag - and a lot more with neither [jquery] or [ajax]. See also: [javascript-events] –  Shog9 Jun 3 '11 at 4:47
I know nothing about the tools that are available to deal with stuff like this, but it seems like a "split" is sort of what should happen: all instances of [jquery-ajax] replaced with both [jquery] and [ajax]. If eliminating these is complicated, but they're still not desirable, should there be "community policing" to discourage the creation of new ones and/or the use of the existing ones? –  John Flatness Jun 3 '11 at 5:08
I wonder what about tags like selectors which has different meanings in CSS/jQuery and Objective-C for example. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 3 '11 at 5:33
How important is it that a tag always refer to the same concept? It seems like it would be very important, since users follow single tags. [selectors] seems to fail there, but fixing that would mean encouraging [css-selectors]. Or is the current situation fine, that [selectors] always needs to be interpreted in context? At any rate, it still seems there are some much less problematic cases (like [jquery-ajax]). –  John Flatness Jun 3 '11 at 5:47
@BoltClock'saUnicorn why is php-oop a synonym for php? hakre and i have retagged all questions now and either removed the tag or changed it to oop depending on what was applicable. that tag should not be a synonym imo. –  Gordon Jan 14 '12 at 18:33
@Gordon: I have no idea - I didn't synonymize them. But what's the point of having a [php-oop] tag when [php][oop] will do? –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 14 '12 at 18:44
@BoltClock'saUnicorn there is no point. thats why we retagged them. there shouldnt be any questions with php-oop anymore now (was about 50 of them). can you rediscuss with whoever synonymized php-oop to php what the reasoning behind that was please? i think it should be reverted. –  Gordon Jan 14 '12 at 18:48

I see a benefit when it comes to what people have as "favorite" tags. For instance I have sql-server as one of my favorite tags because I like to see posts regarding SQL Server. But once I am in a SQL Server question I do want to know what version it is (and I don't think I would put a specific version as a favorite).

I can see a lot of situations where my answer would be different if a question I find with the SQL-Server tag is for sql-server-2000 instead of sql-server-2008, so the extra level of detail does come into play.

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I think there's been some separate discussion on the special case of version tags and their usefulness. By compound tags here I meant the combination of two tags that are really independent (unlike your examples, since [2008] or [2000] have no meaning without the [sql-server] part). –  John Flatness Jun 3 '11 at 14:43

The sad truth is that the powers that be don't really care how tags go. In a sense they are right to not care too, search tools are usually what should be used to get to a question, not so much tagging. There are far more pressing matters to them than tagging.

Trust me, most (if not all) re-tagging of this nature and attempts at sensible nomenclature end up as community efforts, not site policy. Part of the problem comes from tag creation, which is for SO at this point too open a process, and it's too easy to create tags unknowingly.

The worsts case of tag "compounding", in a sense, is and versus , as well as the various "-express" tags where the "-express" part is actually not key to the issue but just part of the asker's environment. At the same time you don't want an tag floating around just for that. (Even if there now is an express tag but in the sense of MVC framework for Node.js.)

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