Cleaning up a bad or ambiguous tag is a very annoying and disruptive process. While there are moderator tools for renaming and merging tags, there is no tool that helps splitting a tag or removing a bad tag and replacing it with useful tags.

There are two ways one can currently clean up a tag, performing the whole retag job in one go or splitting it up into small pieces over time. The main reason to split it up is to avoid the frontpage from being completely disrupted by all the questions bumped through the retagging.

There are some significant problems with the current approach. Doing it all at once has the following problems:

  • Bumping the questions pushes new questions from the frontpage, completely disrupting it for a while.

  • It is no longer ensured that the community reviews the changes, if there are so many that they overflow the frontpage.

  • Difficult to organize for a large amount of tags, you need enough people retagging at the same time to finish the job.

Retagging in small batches is often the preferred approach, but also not without problems:

  • On slow moving sites you have to wait pretty long between batches because the frontpage doesn't move fast enough.

  • The bad tag cannot be eliminated quickly and continues to accumulate new questions.

  • Can be difficult to keep track of already retagged questions if you only clean up a tag, but don't eliminate it.

So I'm proposing a new tool for dealing with this, inspired by an earlier feature request by Grace Note. This earlier suggestion is not likely to be implemented, as the current consensus in the SE team seems to be that even mods should never have the ability to do silent retags without bumping. The difference in my proposal is that it would be based on peer-review, so that multiple users are needed for a non-bumping edit.

The idea is that a moderator can queue up tags that need work in a publicly visible list and any user can suggest a retagging and high-reputation users and moderators can approve them. Peer review would be mandatory for these non-bumping retags, so moderators have no supervote, they would need another user to also approve the retag.

When the retag is approved it would be removed from the list and the question would be silently retagged (no bumping, but a revision). There should also be an option to vote for "no retag necessary", or maybe also an alternative retag if the proposed one is not good enough.

The list of performed edits would be persistent and should be linked from the meta post that proposed the mass retagging, to allow further review by the community.

This tool would prevent the frontpage from being flooded by old questions, while still ensuring that the retags are reviewed.

Any ideas or comments on this?

  • 19
    The need for peer review has always been the main argument against allowing bump-less minor and mass edits, so a tool that allows for both sounds like a very good idea to me.
    – Pekka
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 8:33
  • 12
    +1 - There is a big need for this on lower-traffic sites. I had a number of quality tag edits declined so flooding could be prevented. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 19:11
  • 4
    @DesignerGuy You might also be interested in my other feature-request designed to solve the same problem. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


I am a moderator of a relatively small community (Computational Science) and face this particular problem. I am not entirely sure how to complete our retag initiative while creating minimal disruptions and still doing the best job possible for less straightforward actions (such as tag-disambiguation for a popular tag split 30%-70%).

I've tried both aforementioned approaches:

  1. Choosing a summer Saturday (the lowest activity time) and keeping a note on the currently hot posts. Which still disrupted the front page for a day and caused some discomfort. Certainly, there are ways users can find "hot" questions (and click Hot tabs); however, I totally understand the potential inconvenience and the prerequisite of knowing what to do.
  2. Small batches. It takes a long time and is very hard to plan. I have a large Excel sheet with items I need/plan/consider doing on the tag front, but the longer is the period between me creating a plan and doing something -> the longer time I spend to figure out what and how exactly to do.

The proposed solution of a no-bump retag tool with a mandatory community moderation would solve it and improve the experience for the moderators and, most importantly, the active community members, in particular, for the smaller sites where an update of the Active tab does not happen overnight.

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