Sometimes I just wish things were a little more organized, maybe with topics and sub topics.

  • > "I think taggings purpose is best served for searching (indexing)" That's backwards. For text content you don't need tags for indexing. You use them for categorization, which is different. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2779/… Aug 13, 2009 at 14:23
  • Often I wish things were more organized, while preserving the dynamic aspect that is also essential.
    – dlaliberte
    Oct 11, 2017 at 2:39

7 Answers 7


Tags work very nicely IMHO - no need for a hierarchy.

  • I love the current format.
    – novatrust
    Aug 10, 2009 at 23:28
  • Different strokes for different folks I guess :)
    – Darknight
    Aug 10, 2009 at 23:29

See Tags (n). Far more robust than a tree model and at the same time, shock and surprise, far easier to map to a natural human mental model.

Edit: here's a more detailed answer. I work for a large enterprise (more than 100k employees) and one of my responsibilities has been to craft an "enterprise-2.0" collaboration strategy. After an exhaustive audit, analysis and discussion with anyone who has been involved in anything collaboration-related over the past decade in my organization, one of the most obvious conclusions is this:

Any information taxonomy that does not arise organically from the content which is being created will fail. Miserably.

Second: our brains do not work in hierarchies. The human brain does not like to organize things into strict trees. Our brain looks more like a giant mess of index cards connected to a number of other cards by string. This maps very closely to tags. A great real-world example of this is iTunes. Every music library in the world was, by most measures, a failure because no one thinks in trees. Organizing music into artist subfolder album takes discipline and is unpleasant because it's unnatural. Programmers are a little better at it because we do have to think in trees. The bad thing is, we think in trees so often we start to believe that's normal, when it's actually a discipline we've had to learn and nature we've had to overcome. iTunes dumps everything into a bucket and lets us slice it down how we want to at a given moment - our brain follows the right thread to the right index card. Find by title or album or artist or genre or whatever.

This where search comes in. Tagging and search are precisely how we now find things. Yahoo! doesn't maintain their stupid directory any more because no one uses it. We type what we want into a box and we get that. Browsing is a thing of the past, unless you want to do it for your leisure - which is not what Stackoverflow is here for.

Tagging is proven to be the best solution to self-organize and crowdsource content. If you have a better idea, describe it in detail.

  • but topics are tags in themselfs, kind of line aggregated tags.
    – Darknight
    Aug 10, 2009 at 23:14
  • I don't disagree with tagging, I think taggings purpose is best served for searching (indexing) however, displaying the content is possibly best served in an organised way..
    – Darknight
    Aug 10, 2009 at 23:22
  • Then have dynamic topics, take multiple tags and then group then into 'editiable' topics, then render a 'forum' using those shifting topics. Don't know just a thought
    – Darknight
    Aug 10, 2009 at 23:28
  • Your argument is good but youtube.com/watch?v=oozFn2d45tg will disagree that "our brains do not work in hierarchies"
    – bobobobo
    Aug 11, 2009 at 1:27
  • @bobobobo thanks for the video. We can also find a ton of resources which will argue the opposite. I have simplified an extremely complex and only partially-understood issue to make a point. Just because it has more layers does not mean it is wrong.
    – Rex M
    Aug 15, 2009 at 18:19

There are already enough programming-related forums around. They actually seem much less organized to me. What do I do if my question belongs in multiple categories, repost the same question in multiple sub-forums?

I think SO is great precisely because it allows for more natural categorization of everything.

  • put it in the first most broadest topic that it supports?
    – Darknight
    Aug 10, 2009 at 23:15

The chaos is very natural to all programmers.

  • I totally agree!
    – Darknight
    Aug 10, 2009 at 23:16

No hierarchies.... That's one thing that drove me to drink after a couple of weeks (hours) at Experts-ex....... God I hate drilling down.

  • Drill, baby! Drill!
    – random
    Aug 11, 2009 at 1:15

Subtopics might do well to lump close/repeated questions into.


Tagging >= Grouping

If tagging used well,then it is able to perform hierarchical groupings. This is how I use tagging to make grouping possible. http://www.flickr.com/photos/45412920@N03/4293243741

If others think so as well, we can promote this usage. Say post questions on writing an IPhone Instance Menessage Client, So I try to tag it this way "IPhone Instance Menessage Client", hope other who writes IM Client would the same way,so I would be able to locate the message in a better organized way.

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