After having been confused by the retagging of winforms no less than twice in two months, I would like to request a little bit more restraint when retagging.

The criteria for some retagging requests seem to be somewhat arbitrary. Retagging threading to multithreading for example seems to satisfy the pedants who prefer the proper term but goes contrary to the prevalance of the popular usage of threading. I would propose that it's important to consider what people are most likely to enter into Google when looking for answers about a topic than having the one true tag that satisfies a particular persons need for order and cleanliness.

Secondly, I would like to request more care to be taken when retagging is done. With the winforms example, I had added winforms to my list of favorite tags. Then, one day, I clicked on my winforms tag only to find that there were all of 3 or 4 winforms questions compared with the thousands the day before. I dutifully updated my favorites tag to the prescribed windows-forms and was again on my merry way. However, today I was again rudely awakened by my windows-forms tag only reporting a handful of questions; the windows-forms tag had been reverted to winforms. On the first pass, I was completely unfamiliar with the retagging process and it was quite confusing to me.

If retagging must be done, please update these related things as well to streamline the user experience.


4 Answers 4


Arrgh, someone renamed "threading" to "multithreading"?

I too have had problems with overzealous renaming of tags, to the point that I now honestly question the reason I ever added the functionality in the first place.

For one thing, it plays havoc with tag-based badges if not considered carefully.

  • In almost every case it isn't a "rename", it is a "merge"; where the data is split over multiple synonyms. Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 7:18
  • 2
    This is why I think more people should be watching, and responding to questions tagged [retag-request] . Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 14:28
  • There is (or should be?) discussion about whether a tag should be renamed/merged, under the retag-request tag.. For example, meta.stackexchange.com/questions/25213/…
    – dbr
    Commented Oct 9, 2009 at 17:10

In most cases where multiple (synonymous) terms are in use I would argue that it makes absolute sense to at least merge them. There will be some overlap where a number of questions include both A and B. It would be nice if we had automatic tag-swapping (i.e. the user enters "windows-forms" but gets "winforms"), but we don't.

The case of "winforms" was unfortunate, and I regret it. My apologies if this caused confusion, but fighting "winforms" was just doomed. As far as I know, this reversal is an isolated example.

For the other cases when A and B are actually different tags for the same thing, then... well, one of the two is going to lose. I hope it is the sensible choice most times.

please update these related things as well

We can't edit your bookmakes, but I guess that in part that comes back to the tag-swapping (it would be nice if that worked for ~/tagged/{foo} too). I'm sure there is a feature-request somewhere...

  • "We can't edit your bookmarks". This is again all the more reason to pause before making changes. There are more consequences (badges as Jeff mentioned, bookmarks) to a change than simply "correctly" categorizing things. I guess I favor community rule rather than a "kindly" despot in these situations.
    – Eric
    Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 6:47
  • "It would be nice if we had automatic tag-swapping" - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2779/… should resolve this, mean it doesn't break peoples bookmarks, and it's tagged as status-planned, which is promising..
    – dbr
    Commented Oct 9, 2009 at 17:05
  • Yes, but it has been like that for a long time ;-p Commented Oct 9, 2009 at 18:34

This is a rare case. They were merged into [windows-forms]. Only to find out that WinForms is the term used by Microsoft. So it then got merged into [winforms]

If you would like to discuss tag-merges, look for questions tagged [retag-request].

  • "Only to find out that WinForms is the term used by Microsoft." This is exactly why I'm requesting restraint. It should absolutely not be a surprise that Microsoft uses WinForms. A little research and patience are required before making these switches.
    – Eric
    Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 6:44
  • The original request was an answer on "The Great Tagging Reorg", where it was easy to overlook. The new request was a question, where it is easy to notice, and find. Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 14:25
  • This still implies that the retagging threshold is way too low. And "easy to find" in terms of what? If I only ever use stackoverflow and not meta, these tagging changes would be completely mysterious. There is no list of recently changed tags posted anywhere or any notification displayed anywhere of changed tags outside of the various retag-request threads here on meta.
    – Eric
    Commented Aug 26, 2009 at 6:28
  • The retagging threshold is way to low, RIA Cowboy managed to create a pointless tag. Commented Aug 26, 2009 at 14:16

Wouldn't you just have both tags in your favorites? I agree that it is annoying when tags ping pong like this, but there is no one and only lexical authority on SO so I would expect this to continue to happen forever.

Just to be clear, even if in the example you gave, one tag was settled on and always used, you should have both in your Interest List because new questions are just as likely to be tagged with either. While the ones that are tagged incorrectly will eventually be retagged, it will not be immediate so you may not see them until they are already answered if you only watch the correct tag.

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