On Law we have a bunch of tags to clarify the jurisdiction that applies to a question. Here are two proposed tag-excerpt changes I just saw in the queue. I think there is a convention on Stack Exchange that informs which is more "helpful" or "appropriate," but I don't know what it is:

  1. Questions specific to Canada.
  2. Canada is a country in North America, consisting of 10 provinces and 3 territories.

  1. For questions specifically relating to Florida law or regulations.
  2. Florida is a state in the southeast United States.

From what I've seen my guess would be that the first of each example is more canonical. But the second of each example seems more helpful (if at all).

Possible existing conventions:

  1. Don't bother prefixing the wiki excerpt with "For questions relating to...", so the second of each example is preferred.
  2. Per Improved Tagging, "Avoid generically defining the concept behind a tag, unless it is highly specialized." Therefore, tags like these should have no excerpt at all?!
  • Actually, though... this may be something best decided within the Law.SE community. Creating tags and deciding how to use them is part of what makes each site unique... Obviously, it's best to follow a pattern within your SE site but that doesn't mean it has to be decided by some external people. Have you reviewed the blog post?
    – Catija
    Aug 31, 2015 at 23:27

4 Answers 4


A key points to keep in mind about tag wikis is that a tag wiki is not an encyclopedia article. A tag wiki should provide information that is relevant to your community. This especially goes for excerpts, which should be brief so that you can find out the meaning of a tag at a glance.

Although you can have up to 460 characters in an excerpt, most excerpts should have far less than that: the character limit is for complicated tags where for example you need to explain that questions about some topic that may look very similar should actually use a different tag. A good tag excerpt is as short as possible, not as long as possible.

So, for example, do not define “Canada” by saying how many provinces it contains. At the scale of an excerpt, it's completely irrelevant. In the tag wiki body, mentioning provinces and territories may be relevant to state which kinds of laws are issued at the federal vs provincial/territorial level. In the tag wiki body, you may want to link the tags corresponding to the provinces/territories for convenience.

A word like “Canada” probably doesn't really need a definition, so writing an excerpt for it. However you may want to provide generic guidance about countries, such as “the laws and regulations of Canada and its provinces and territories, and international treaties that Canada is a signatory to”. (Assuming that's the tagging policy — if questions about a specific province's laws should not have the [canada] tag, word the excerpt accordingly.) You should hold a discussion on Meta.Law to standardize on a format for country tags, with maybe some variation depending on the level of devolution.

The point is that Canada doesn't need to be defined. But the exact meaning of the tag in your community might.

For an obscure concept, a short definition is warranted. This doesn't need to be, and usually shouldn't be, a precise definition, just enough to provide some context and avoid confusion from readers who aren't familiar with the terminology. For example, the excerpt for [common-law] currently reads

For questions regarding English common law, or legal systems based on judge-made law descended from it.

“Common law” doesn't exist in many legal systems, so people who visit Law.SE from non-Anglo-Saxon countries might not be familiar with it. So having this bit about “judge-made law” is useful.

A tag like [florida] would be an intermediate case. The excerpt and body should include the mention that Florida is a US state, but not define it ambiguously by detailing its geographical location inside the US. The tag [georgia] needs a definition to indicate whether it's the country or the US state — either something like

The US state of Georgia. For the laws of the country called Georgia, use the tag ???.


Georgia is a country in the Caucasus. For questions about the US state, use the tag [georgia-state].

plus some indication of when to use [united-states] in addition. For the tag [new-york], indicate whether it's the state or the city and how to tag the other meaning.

And indeed don't prefix the excerpt with “For questions relating to …”, that's just noise. Keep in mind that people's attention drops very fast when they're in scanning mode (which is the case for excerpts, much less so for wiki bodies). Every word counts at the beginning.

  • Pretty sure “For questions relating to …” will be auto-filtered out in most cases from the popups, so it's not quite as bad as all that. Sep 2, 2015 at 0:21

As per https://law.meta.stackexchange.com/a/258/65, I think that it's just noise to have "Questions specific to [tag]" and "For questions specifically relating to [tag] laws and regulations" as tag excerpts.

On the contrary, since this is an international community, a tiny little bit of geography and geopolitical subdivision is something that I feel would be quite appropriate to have in the tag excerpts.

Nearby states are more likely to have similar laws and regulations than those further apart, so, the fact that Florida is a state in the southeast United States is certainly more useful and context-setting than an effectively description-less "For questions specifically relating to Florida law or regulations" (which, ironically, is actually longer and wordier yet less informative, less context-setting and less unique).

So, indeed, "Questions specific to Canada" is worse than not having an excerpt at all.

But since we do have excerpts, why not set a bit of a context, and remind people in two words what we mean by "Canada" and what further subdivision types they might consider, e.g., "Canada is a country in North America, consisting of 10 provinces and 3 territories".


You have plenty of space in the Wiki... why not include both?

Questions about [laws and regulations specific to] Canada, a country in North America, consisting of 10 provinces and 3 territories.

Questions about [laws or regulations specific to] Florida, a state in the southeast United States.

The sections in brackets are optional, obviously.

I'm sure you could shorten them a bit if you're worried about length, but there's no reason to not make them descriptive and helpful at the same time.

  • 3
    “You have plenty of space” is a bad argument for excerpts. (Less so for wikis, but even so encyclopedic data such as the number of provinces is noise.) Excerpts are meant for being read at a glance when picking tags for a question, they should be as short as possible. Sep 1, 2015 at 13:20
  • 2
    The "questions about" is the optional, probably useless even, part of it since you can only tag questions
    – random
    Sep 1, 2015 at 13:22

Here is my take on it:

Wondering why a couple of my suggested tag edits were rejected?

The example:

Questions about x, a letter of the alphabet. X is the third from last letter in the alphabet. Ask anything related to designing graphics with x.

The descriptive form:

Questions about [the subject], [very brief description of the subject]. [Something about the subject that's relevant to [this site topic], or more brief description of the subject]. Ask anything related to [actions commonly taken with this subject relative to [this site topic]].

I haven't seen anyone here even hint at SEO. The beauty of the tags is that with every question Google indexes, you can not only tell Google or other SEs what the question pertains to, but also what questions are accepted on your site. It's naïve to think that Google's spider can't correctly interpret and categorise 'Questions about something'.

Given the SEO benefits, isn't it also highly beneficial to include 'Ask anything about this something relevant to this sites topic'? Now it will also catch people searching for 'ask about [something] in [site topic]'.

I hope that makes sense and convinces you that this is a very good format for both consistency, and the greater purpose, SEO.

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