So I think most people understand that there are certain tags that are frequently (and in some cases almost always) misused. Perhaps the biggest, arguably, is .

Now, I've read Jeff's treatise on how users never read anything, and I've seen how people continue to post follow-up information as answers, despite having to click through several warnings that they shouldn't be doing that. But, I have to think such roadblocks do work to some level at reducing the behavior we don't want, while incurring minimal wrath from users over legitimate uses.

So this has lead me to wonder about the best way to deal with the problem of frequent misuse of tags.

One option is to "suggest" that the tag may be frequently misused. For instance, when entering there can be an inline popup (non-modal) that says

This tag is almost always the wrong tag to use. Here are some better options. Only use this tag if you really mean "blah"

followed by a list of tags that are most commonly used, similar to how there's a popup when you hover over tags.

This could be an enhancement to the tag management system that allows the tag manager to mark a tag "frequently misused", and then offer some fields for text to fill in the blanks for the better options and text for the "if you really mean" part.

Obviously, this should probably not be used on frequently misused but also frequently correctly used tags, since that could be highly annoying.

As a way to combat that problem, you might look for other tags that are used in conjunction with commonly used tags, such as or . You could also have a little link on the popup that says "don't show me this anymore for this tag" for people that do use the tag correctly a lot.

The impetus for this is that there is a metric boatload of editor hours being spent retagging these frequent misused tags. If this feature could be cut this retagging effort even in half, I think it would more than make up for the effort to implement such a feature.

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    You barely even need anything as complex; just display the excerpt. mvc's is: "Model–View–Controller (MVC) is an architectural pattern used in software engineering. For Microsoft ASP.NET MVC, please use [asp.net-mvc] tag instead. For Spring MVC, please use [spring-mvc] tag instead." But, people don't read anything... Feb 23, 2014 at 19:19
  • @benisuǝqbackwards - That's basically what i'm suggesting. Not sure why you say that, since it's pretty much exactly what i'm referring to. And I did mention the issue that people don't read anything, but as I said, if it even stops it from happening half the time it would be worth it. Feb 23, 2014 at 19:21
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    Because you talk about an enhancement and don't mention the word "excerpt" once Mystere... You're talking about adding something; I'm saying the functionality already (almost) exists - just needs to be displayed more prominently to fit your request. Feb 23, 2014 at 19:22
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    @benisuǝqbackwards - The problem is that the text you mention is only visible while they are typing the tag name and goes away after the tag is selected. The message i'm talking about should popup and stay there until the question is saved, and should be visually eye-drawing, and have links to the correct tags. None of which the current text have. I'm thinking it should look like a callout. Feb 23, 2014 at 19:32
  • Granted Mystere... I'm not saying it exists; I'm saying the tags where there are problems have already been identified and the text written (the current text can't have links unfortunately). Feb 23, 2014 at 19:34
  • Well, certainly adding links to the description to replace the tag with the correct one might be a good middle ground. Along with adding the ability to highlight the area to draw the eye. Feb 23, 2014 at 19:35
  • @benisuǝqbackwards - The other problem is that this reduces the amount of text that can be easily used for the actual description. Feb 23, 2014 at 19:50
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    Descriptions like for Microsoft ASP.NET MVC, please use might even have a negative effect. People usually only glance over the description, see that it contains ASP.NET MVC, and think that this is the right tag.
    – nwellnhof
    Feb 23, 2014 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


It might sound harsh, but I think the best solution is to delete overly general tags like . This is the only way to force users to select a better tag. Also, I don't think many people benefit from following tags like .

Another solution might be to apply a penalty in the auto-complete search results which appear when entering tags. Currently, if you enter mvc, the tag is the first suggestion.

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    While I agree, perhaps mvc-pattern would be a better choice, I don't think there is an easy way to just delete tags like that... Feb 23, 2014 at 23:57
  • You can create a meta post requesting the current mvc to be renamed to model-view-controller and blacklisting the current mvc tag. Either that or creating the model-view-controller tag and making MVC a synonym of it, so that if you type in the synonymized mvc it display model-view-controller as the first option, followed by (theoretically) the asp.net one and the spring one afterwards. This will greatly reduce mistakes.
    – jmac
    Feb 24, 2014 at 6:56

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