After a big hoo-haa about purported tag-abuse recently, I thought I'd try and clarify things here.

"why not keep the existing question"?

I deleted it; it was too personal about one individual, which isn't fair when that "event" has been dealt with already.

So; to clarify; in my opinion (and I welcome other views):

  • tags categorise problems by technology (java) / subject (serialization) / product (oracle), etc - although obviously this meaning changes slightly per-site
  • they aren't an IM tool
  • they shouldn't be used to target individuals as a way to receive questions

So; if you see any user-specific tags, please either edit them out, or if there are lots - flag for a moderator (we might be able to merge them into a related technology).

I'd welcome any other ideas, but no heads on spikes please.

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    Shouldn't this be added to the FAQ? – tvanfosson Aug 26 '09 at 14:44
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    This seems like something that could be more easily handled with a SQL job once in a while... search for tags that match user names and flag them for moderation. – Rob Allen Aug 26 '09 at 14:55
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    select tags.* from tags inner join users on tags.tagname = users.username where tags.tagname not like 'jon skeet' – TheTXI Aug 26 '09 at 15:11
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    @TheTXI: Jeff deletes the 'jon skeet' tag on a regular basis. :) – Bill the Lizard Aug 26 '09 at 15:17
  • @Billy the Reptile: It should be automated and it should ban users who create it again. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 15:27
  • I seem to miss all the "hoo-haa"s. Care to post a link? – tvanfosson Aug 26 '09 at 15:28
  • @tv: It is still being cried about on twitter. twitter.com/jlward4th – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 15:31
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    I am simply fascinated that someone actually had the ego and the lack of common sense to even make this an issue. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 15:33
  • I agree this should be added to the FAQ – BinaryMisfit Aug 26 '09 at 15:47
  • @TheTXI - Exploit. What happens to your select when I change my name to "python"? – Robert Cartaino Aug 26 '09 at 16:07
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    @rcar: We ban you for gross incompetence. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 16:10
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    I don't think this was handled in the correct way. Common sense dictates that warnings are appropriate in this situation, especially when the user was without malice. Not every one that uses SO is a power user, like you guys seem to be, and know all of the subtle rules. Suspending accounts and deleting discussion threads only inflame the issue, when a simple direct message probably would have been the best for everyone. This is a community issue, not a policy issue. – zachleat Aug 26 '09 at 16:16
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    How does the moderation of tags help the community? If the developer community likes using certain tags and those tags help bring more developers to SO then what is the harm in having them? – James Ward Aug 27 '09 at 4:58
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    @James - given the hugely negative response from both the community and the site owners, I think we've shown that the "developer community" as very anti-this. What you mean is "If I like using...". And the resounding answer is "just no". – Marc Gravell Aug 27 '09 at 7:23
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    If "most don't even hang out on SO", I'm not sure that they can have a sensible opinion over whether it is appropriate or not. Pretty much everyone who has been involved in these 2 threads is strongly against. I think bringing in more developers is fine and commendable - but why the ridiculous tagging? Sorry, but it is simply inappropriate. It is a community. If they want to ask a question about (say) "ria", than ask the community about "ria". If you want people to contact you, then SO isn't the place; give them your e-mail address. – Marc Gravell Aug 27 '09 at 12:56

Just to address (in as general a way as I can) the issue of tags being used as an IM tool, I'd say it's much better to use established tags that the community has created rather than create your own specific tag. We don't need tags that "Bat Signal" individual users. Stack Overflow (and its sister sites) has many experts in many domains. If you want your own following of readers to be able to get the full benefit from Stack Overflow, tell them what tags you subscribe to. That way they can get the benefit of the entire community that follows those tags, not just the attention of one individual.

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    someone deleted the alan-kay tag :( Get the pirchforks!!! – perbert Aug 26 '09 at 16:01
  • @voyager: I'm kind of on the fence on that. I think setting the bar at "Turing Award winner" is high enough that we won't be inundated with too many user-specific tags. On the other hand, you can still do a user search for "Alan Kay" and find him. No harm done in deleting it. – Bill the Lizard Aug 26 '09 at 16:05
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    The tag serves no purpose and only muddies the water with people who want to argue. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 16:10
  • @Rich B: Agreed. It would just open up the "appeal to common practice" argument, despite the lofty height of the bar. – Bill the Lizard Aug 26 '09 at 16:15
  • @Willy the Iguana: Right, especially when this particular user has the kind of ego where I think he would argue he is above that bar. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 16:20

When you ask a question, the title field has:

What's your programming question? Be descriptive.

Given the recent brouhaha over the tags, maybe it would be a good idea to include such a reminder next to the tags field. Something like:

What technology, product or subject matter is the question about?

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  • I am not sure that one or maybe a few people having no common sense is cause for yet another reminder/warning. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 15:50

Too bad there's not a media site. Then I could change my username to tv and get to have/keep my own tag.

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  • 6
    I suppose you could just change your username to asp.net-mvc. – Bill the Lizard Aug 26 '09 at 15:35
  • Why would anyone downvote this? – tvanfosson Aug 26 '09 at 16:04
  • @tv: Why would anyone not? – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 16:20
  • @Rich B -- a sense of humor? – tvanfosson Aug 26 '09 at 16:25
  • @tv: After a 'joke' like that, I don't think you are in the place to be telling anyone to get a sense of humor. Also, complaining about down votes to a joke answer on meta, it doesn't get lamer than that. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 16:26
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    @Rich B -- you take things too seriously. – tvanfosson Aug 26 '09 at 16:29
  • @tv: Yes. I have never been known to joke around. I don't find your joke funny, so clearly I have no sense of humor. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 16:36
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    @Rich B -- I wasn't accusing you of not having a sense of humor. It just amazed me that someone would care enough about it to actually downvote it (or upvote it for that matter). I don't get the kind of thinking that says "I have to express my opinion on everything." Faced with the same situation, I would simply move on instead of expressing a negative opinion. – tvanfosson Aug 26 '09 at 17:35
  • @tv: "Care enough to downvote"? It is one click man. I care enough to vote on everything, just like people should. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 17:49
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    @Rich B -- but you seem to find much more to vote down, than up. That's another kind of thinking I don't get. – tvanfosson Aug 26 '09 at 17:56
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    @tv: You are the kind of person I don't get. Why do my voting patterns concern you? Have you thought that when you do mostly editing that you end up on all the crappiest portions of the site, and not only in the portions of the site you want to play with? I am not paralyzed by politeness to not edit or down vote something when necessary to help keep the site clean. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 18:00

You could also add 'they aren't a flagging tool', e.g. don't use 'belongs-on-serverfault' (if there is a consensus - see e.g. this question).

Guidelines on use of 'off-topic', 'subjective', 'not-programming-related' (if they should be used! - see e.g. this question) could also be useful.

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  • IM aspect was like tagging it with the name or site of the person you wanted to answer your question so that they could just check the tag as their own inbox. – random Aug 26 '09 at 14:55
  • @random: Thanks for the clarification. – ire_and_curses Aug 26 '09 at 15:13

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