Would inferring tags from a question's title and body and filling them automatically into the tag field (or at least suggesting them separately as a hint list or something) be worthwhile?

Note that I'm not referring to the tag auto-complete that goes on already, mind you.

Edit: The way I see it, it's the people who struggle defining their problems who probably need the most help with getting them solved. That's what I'm implying with this question, just so you know.


7 Answers 7


Perhaps next to the tag box there could be a "Help!" button - it would display a little box with a short description about tagging, and some suggested tags..

The suggested tags would be generated by getting all the most used tags from the "related questions" (the ones displayed below the Title: input)

(From my answer here)

del.icio.us has a similar feature:

delicious' tagging system

"Recommended" are tags I've used before, that other people have also used for the URL, "Popular" are ones I may have not used, but are the most common for the URL.

The "tags I've used before" may be irrelevant for StackOverflow, but it's a good demonstration of how I think the tags could be presented (not auto-filling the Tags input, but suggesting them in a separate box, and adding the tag when you click it)


Natural language processing is a very complex thing, one can only determine to certain degree what the most reasonable tags would be. To do this would take a lot of resources.

You should know fully well what type of tags your question involves when you ask it. Trying to get a computer to do this for you is lazy for those who use it, and complex for those who make it. Not to mention the large disadvantage caused by mis-tagged items.

  • Well searches don't seem to have a hard time figuring out which questions I'm looking for by a handful of key words... even when they're not directly tagged with my search words. I figure an auto-tagging function shouldn't be as complicated as natural language processing. It could be worthwhile for tag hints for newbs, maybe. Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 4:14
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    You're using minimal text to match a large amount of text, and IIRC it's mostly just fulltext SQL searching. It's much more difficult to turn a ton of text into a small amount of text -- reliably Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 4:41

On top of what Ian said, i'll theorize that most folks capable of writing a decent title and body are also perfectly able to fill in some decent tags. While those unable to properly tag a question are probably also not asking very good questions.

So, while an editor is busy fixing the rest of the post, he can take a few extra seconds to fix the tags as well...

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    I disagree on that one - it's common to see words in the subject which should really be tags instead.
    – skaffman
    Commented Nov 29, 2009 at 18:17

The SE Tag Suggestions userscript from here, written by @HodofHod, does this. It adds a "suggest tags" link below the tag textbox, with options to suggest based on your tags (what do you tend to ask about) or based on similar questions. I've found that it does a pretty good job on the sites I use most.


An excellent suggestion. If delicious.com can do it, so can SO!

I seriously suggest you just copy the same UI delicious has - it's perfect.


ok, for example, what would the "suggested tag" output be from this very question you asked? The limitations of this method are so severe that the negatives outweigh any positives.

This has come up before on UserVoice and I've declined it for the same reasons.

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    If the list were tested against actual tags before they're suggested, would that improve things?
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 11:19

Looks like my post over on SO would be relevant:

Code Golf: Quickly Build List of Keywords from Text

Of course this would fail with people to ask questions like:

"Hai. Wy pHP an't rendrn my dataah? I has the varible n echo. KTHXbai"

Then again - perhaps the result from the process could send off a short comma-seperated list of the resulting keywords to be processed. Only the ones that actually exists as tags would be returned.

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