Recently, I've been working my way through child-metas on the SE 2.0 sites (I've been cycling through old support, bug, and feature requests) and noticed an odd pattern.

Many users ask a question such as, "How do I do X?" where X refers to something like track badge progress, prettify code, or some other bit of site functionality. However, these are almost always tagged when realistically the question is asking for help using the Stack Exchange architecture as it is -- the definition of the .

I've retagged a ton of these questions on a few child metas and it's gotten me wondering: are these tags actually being used correctly? (After all, the question isn't being retagged before I get to it.) Or, is being misapplied network-wide?

Asking here because I'd like to hear observations from meta-users across all SE 2.0 sites, especially top users and mods. It may also be that this is happening just on the subset of sites that I've been looking at lately.

For examples:

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    The order the tags are listed is "bug, feature-request, discussion, support". It's not a bug, so it must be the next tag on the list... – ChrisF Oct 29 '12 at 15:43
  • @ChrisF That's definitely a possibility. On some of the child metas, though, it's discussion, support, feature-request in that order, and feature-request STILL gets the tag. – Aarthi Oct 29 '12 at 15:45
  • I think this is an artifact of people wanting support. They see support and feature-request, forget everything in the middle, and think they actually ended up saying support-request. – Tim Post Oct 29 '12 at 15:45
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    Also note, feature-request is something that takes some knowledge of talking to programmers to understand. (Think of someone having 20 toolbars in their browser) – Tim Post Oct 29 '12 at 15:46
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    Note that "How do I do X?" questions where it turns out that X is not possible, do sometimes get retagged to feature-request. I think that specifically is an okay practice. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 29 '12 at 15:47
  • @Pekka But, technically, "You can't do X" is a valid answer. (I'm mostly playing devil's advocate here.) If the question can't be edited slightly to turn it from, "How do I do X" to "I think I should be able to do X" then it probably shouldn't be retagged. – Aarthi Oct 29 '12 at 15:52
  • @Aarthi usually (in my experience), the retagging takes place when the OP is told that X isn't possible, and they then say "oh, too bad, but wouldn't it be cool if it were?" I guess one would have to go through them on a case-to-case basis and look (if your goal is to clean up the feature-request tag). Largely I think the tag is being used correctly, and there are eagle-eyed veteran users who will retag where people get it wrong. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 29 '12 at 15:55
  • @Pekka I agree with you to an extent. Given that I've been tidying some 2.0 meta sites, I'm wondering if we're perhaps being a bit lax about editing meta questions to be clearer about their requests, especially upon retag? I have no idea, mostly just speculating. :) – Aarthi Oct 29 '12 at 15:58
  • @Aarthi It's not something I've ever observed as being a problem. Let's see whether any of the other Meta-heads think otherwise. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 29 '12 at 15:59

I see that more with , which similar to feature request is often hard to determine for a new user. They don't know the capabilities of the SE software, what they experience might be a bug, but often it is some intended (and sometimes arcane) feature. And is similar, new users often miss some existing feature, which turns the feature request into a support request. They don't know if what they ask is possible, and might not even understand the distinction between these categories.

The problem is that we can't expect new users to tag this stuff correctly on meta, they don't have the necessary knowledge. And on meta, not just anybody can fix this as suggested edits are disabled. Tags is something that newer user often get wrong, also on the main site. It is absolutely necessary to have the more experienced users to retag, and meta has fewer visitors and higher reputation requirements to edit.

I try to fix this stuff when I see it, but I also often just overlook the tags. I assume that happens to other users as well.


Depends on if their question is closed as a duplicate of another that you'll find out if it was applied because:

  • They knew not of the difference and just slapped it on bare because "request" is another cry for help.
  • It's an easy out for them to request a feature if it doesn't exist and saves them from posting a new question that will be closed as a duplicate when they can add,

    If not is possible, we can have this feature ? yes.

  • They know it's a duplicate, but want to have both their fruit loaf and raisin bread by claiming that while the other is a theirs is wholly different issue by the single change in tag.

Or users just still have no idea how to use tags because tagging is hard if you don't spend a little time reading any kind of introductory text.

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