It is bugging me quite a long time already, so I decided to ask.

There are two possible strategies:

  1. Use only relevant tags
  2. Just tag your question with all the tags you can think of.

My common sense is telling me the first one should be preferred. But occasionally I am coming into argument with people whose questions I am retagging and who want to keep an irrelevant tag.

The question is - which tag is relevant and which is not?

Let's take an example. Imagine a question in Travel@SE, like "I am traveling from Berlin to Amsterdam on my brand new Aston-Martin. Where would be the best place to stop to eat?" Should be this question tagged with "aston-martin" tag? In my opinion - no. Although car of this brand is indeed involved in both trip and question, it is irrelevant to the question matter. And it will be of no help to anyone who will either in the same trip or in the need of help with such a car.

Am I right?

Taking more closely to Stack Overflow, there is a question, say, on a PHP syntax error. It is tagged with PHP and mysql. Although there is indeed some SQL in the question, but syntax error doesn't belong to it, but to some PHP code. And such error can happen in any PHP code, no matter what database it's interacting with. Should be this question tagged with MySQL?

  • Anything except the most obvious tag (programming language or framework on SO) is useless unless the community meticulously watches questions and retags. If I can't rely on the tag being applied consistently, then I'm much better off doing a full-text search than using the tag to refine my query. A tag that is only used for a minority of questions that would fit it might as well not exist at all. – Mad Scientist Apr 5 '14 at 18:25
  • Just noticed that it seems I am only one who is concerned with tags removal, not adding. – Your Common Sense Apr 5 '14 at 18:54
  • @YourCommonSense not really. The same arguments apply for removing a bad tag, and not adding it – Pekka Apr 6 '14 at 1:08

Personally, I agree with you.

If a tag is not relevant to the question, it should be removed. In addition, the post should be edited to remove any parts that are irrelevant, as they would be noise.

To use your example of a MySQL tag on a PHP question - I would edit the question to remove any of the irrelevant MySQL bits and the tag and make sure my edit summary explained this.

Think about future users - those who would be searching via the tag. If such a question would come up for a MySQL tag search, that would be a search fail as the result would not be relevant to the search.

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