The new adobe advertising has given me a (hopefully good) idea.

There should be a default icon that is shown for all tags used in more than a certain number of questions (maybe 500? 250? Different icons at different ranks?). The idea is that it will make it easier for new users to know when they've made good tag choices. It shouldn't interfere with future tag promotions, because you still just show a different icon for sponsored tags.

Maybe we could even steal something back from one of the clones.

  • Any Paint mockup suggestions? – random Sep 30 '09 at 13:43
  • That's perspx' department. – Joel Coehoorn Sep 30 '09 at 14:02

If you are good at something, never do it for free.

If you were going to do it anyway, you may as well charge for it.

Never tell your employer you'd do it for free anyway.

I'd say, add icons to non sponsorable tags (Free Software and Open Source). i.e.:

  • Python
  • Pascal
  • SQL (what would its icon be?)
  • Linux
  • BSD

May be you could get a token payment for them from the backing organizations.

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  • 3
    SQL's tag should be a matrix-ized picture of an upright bass. A databass. – Welbog Sep 30 '09 at 14:54
  • is it ill-tempered ? – Stefano Borini Oct 1 '09 at 14:43

How about some "categorical" icons. I'll admit when I stumbled in this morning and saw the initial questions about the Adobe icon, I was slightly amiss.

But then it dawned on me that we do deal with visual a lot and having icons could be a good thing. Sure MS-SQL, Oracle, MySQL, and SQLite probably won't pay money, but what if there was a general database icon (that little cylinder thingie) with those tags to help identify database technologies. It might help some of the newer folks in the programming world say "Oh wow! SQLite is a database?!" and move from there.

I realize we can get into tag icon wars over all of this, but I think the prospect of having some general icons for certain things could be a big benefit.

It could also help with some of the "broad base" type tags, such as best practice, algorithm, etc.

Just my 10 bits.

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One thing I would want to suggest is that any icon for common non sponsored tags be relatively low-key just because if the vast majority of the tags end up having the same icon, it could definitely end up being a bit jarring.

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This would work as a possible solution for the suggestion I had about issuing warnings to users who use low-popularity tags to make sure they know what they're doing.

I like this idea, and having icons would make some tags easier to understand (if company logos are on them for proprietary stuff, and not on them for public stuff). But then would you want the same icon for every non-proprietary tag? If that's the case, we're going to be seeing an awful lot of the same icon. Maybe tags should have no, bronze, silver and gold icons depending on their relative popularity. That will make things less monochromatic.

Something that describes the icons should say that tags with a gold or silver icon are more likely to be seen, so try to make sure at least one gold or silver tag is on the question. It's not necessary, just helpful.

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  • 1
    If you dip the tags in gold and mention that they're more likely to be seen, every question will be tagged C#, even those about Pascal. – random Sep 30 '09 at 13:53
  • Now that we have sponsored tags, I think you just always use the same icon for everything until a company ponies up to sponsor it. But with reasonable rates, they could end up with a lot of sponsored tags. – Joel Coehoorn Sep 30 '09 at 13:56
  • @random: maybe, but I think only if you have a lot of levels. Otherwise we'd see that now, and it doesn't seem to happen much if at all. – Joel Coehoorn Sep 30 '09 at 13:57
  • Well, tags already have big numbers associated with them now when you assign them to questions and people aren't assigning C# to Pascal today. I'm just talking about using the same information people are already ignoring and making it a bit more visible. Who knows if leeches will abuse it or not? The information is already there to be abused, and it's not being abused (at least not very much). – Welbog Sep 30 '09 at 13:58
  • @Joel: I'm talking about tags like SQL, math, subjective, etc, which can't really have sponsors. – Welbog Sep 30 '09 at 13:59
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    The tags list could end up looking like a walk through Tokyo. – random Sep 30 '09 at 14:28
  • @random: Anata no neko wa inu desu. – Welbog Sep 30 '09 at 14:30
  • @Welbog: shiné – perbert Sep 30 '09 at 14:31
  • @Welboug: Anata no toshokan no sensei wa mesu inu desu – TheTXI Sep 30 '09 at 14:32
  • I don't know what "mesu" means, Taxi. The fact that I got the rest means I watch way too much anime. – Welbog Sep 30 '09 at 14:50
  • @random: That's why I'd want most of the icons to be the same. I think that would be less visually jarring than just a few sponsored icons, and definitely less than gnovices gravator-style idea. – Joel Coehoorn Sep 30 '09 at 15:07

How about each high-popularity tag getting a unique, auto-generated image for itself, kinda like the default gravatars on profiles without user-supplied pics? This would point out which tags are popular as well as discern high-popularity tags from one another. If an organization wanted their logo instead of the random image, then they could fork over some green to replace it.

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