Have you looked at the state of tags lately? Multiple versions of the same tag that are camel cased, use underscores or dashes, with both singular and plural versions....

Should there be an unwritten standard (or a written one)?

Personally, I'm a fan of the dashes ([Sqlserver-2007], not [Sqlserver2007], or [Multithreaded-Error] instead of [MultithreadedError]) just because I find them easier to read.

Also, should there be a standard for making the tags singular or plural?

For instance, I added a new tag — [Stackoverflow-tags] — for this message. Should it be [Stackoverflow-] tag instead? When designing a database, you generally don't call it the INVOICES table but use INVOICE instead.

Don't even get me started on the use of [Sql] as a tag when you have a question limited to SQL Server — I guess SQL Server people are blind to the outside world of other databases besides SQL Server.

EDIT: Since you can retag with enough rep, we can "police" as a community. What should be added is the ability to remove "bad" tags so they don't pop up in the drop-down when tagging. There's less chance they'll get used again if they aren't there.

  • the term SQL refers to a Microsoft database product - what are you talking about?!
    – TheSoftwareJedi
    Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:14
  • For many, the term "software" refers to patented Microsoft technologies. Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:23
  • Related: "Should tags take the form foobar or foo-bar?" - asked Jul 6 '09 at 15:23 Jeff Atwood
    – Rob
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 15:55

8 Answers 8


If you take a look at the popular tags currently in use, it looks as though we've already standardized on the dash.

  • And I'd suggest that beyond SO, in the whole blogosphere/folksonomy world of "tagging," the convention is for tags to be caseless (i.e. lowercase). Because we should also strive for some level of interoperability with tag aggregators like Technorati, and therefore with bloggers' standards.
    – joelhardi
    Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:35

The cleaning up of the tag list should be automated. This is something that will have to be addressed if/when there are too many tags with duplicate names.

For now, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

edit What might be a nice feature is for the community to be able to indicate when two tags are equivalent, and when there are enough votes the moderators can merge the tags. That way the load of scrubbing the list is distributed.

  • 11200 tags on 38000 questions, no that is not too many, but it still is a lot ;-).
    – Gamecat
    Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:16
  • I've been slowly retaging as I go when its obvious but its too much.
    – ScottCher
    Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:30
  • It IS automated, see my answer
    – Sam Hasler
    Commented Nov 1, 2008 at 0:15

To directly answer your questions:

Should there be an unwritten standard (or a written one)? Yes

Also, should there be a standard for making the tags singular or allowing plural? Yes

Anything else? Fries or a milkshake maybe?


This is a duplicate of the question: Tips for effectively tagging questions.

The Community user does automatic tag tuning

Repeating the answer from the faq:

Is There a Standard for Tag Names?

  • Do not re-tag a question if you are not going to add valuable information by doing it.
  • Do not re-tag only to change the format of the tag (ie: stackoverflow -> stack-overflow). This is done automatically by the community user.

Perhaps if there are tags that aren't being cleaned up by the Community user then a request should be made on uservoice that the tags be added to whatever list it works from.

  • Valuable information. That's pretty subjective. I have a filter on the subjective tag. then people believe that things can be somewhat-subjective. I think that it's valuable to be clear in tagging and changed those to subjective. Rule #1 of SO is if you don't want what you post edited, this isn't 4u
    – Mark Brady
    Commented Nov 6, 2008 at 16:12

Yes, I have seen that too. And it is even worse. Most of the tags are only used once or twice, and there are typos and other similar tags.

The problem is, even if we create a standard, there will always be people who ignore the standard.

Perhaps we could try to clean up the taglist, but this will be a huge and probably thankless job. Nevertheless, I would like to volunteer if we are going to start such an operation.

  • huge thankless job? no thanks, I have 2 already.
    – TheSoftwareJedi
    Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:15
  • Lol and this one doesn't even have a payday ;-).
    – Gamecat
    Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:17
  • As said above, when bored (out of my mind) I sometimes go on a retaging crusade... The old tags persist, however. No questions associated with them and they still persist.
    – ScottCher
    Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:31

Well actually, there is not much point having a standard if it has already been broken, but if there is an ability to edit the tags and merge them then yes a standard is really necessary between those editors.

  • With a high enough rep you can retag, but you can't delete the "bad" tags
    – ScottCher
    Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:34
  • Better to clean it up now when there are only 40k questions. 8)
    – ScottCher
    Commented Oct 31, 2008 at 20:40

+1, but it should probably be a UserVoice issue.

I can go either way with dashes or CamelCase, but all lowercase is only slightly better than all upper case.

Duplicate tags lessen the value of the whole site, IMNSHO.


I don't think a standard is required. A quick search in the TAG section will quickly show everything containing 'sql' or 'ml', and then you just choose.

Also, users often edit tags so they get bumped in the most common section.

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