This issue remains unresolved seven years later. Please enable communities to deprecate tags. I suggest that deprecated tags could no longer be added to question posts (but allowed to remain when a post is edited). Questions with a deprecated tag should automatically populate a “retag review queue”. Possibly, the users voting to deprecate a tag could provide candidate replacement tags, or tags used during review to replace the deprecated tag could be collected to give hints to reviewers. This would substantially reduce the coordination effort and ease splitting the effort of a major retag across many users.

Where I'm coming from

I'm a moderator on an SE with 5000+ visitors per day, a lot of drive-by askers but few regular contributors (6 editors with 5+ edits this year), and a substantial tagging mess.

When I joined the site more than two years ago, I recognized and battled the tagging situation even before I was a moderator. Now, I've been a moderator for more than two years, and have invested a significant amount of time into improving the tagging situation there. Meanwhile, more than 80 tags were removed or merged, probably two dozen new ones were created and populated, a good many at least got tag infos. The tagging situation is vastly improved, but what remains unassailable are about a dozen generic ambiguous "catch-it-all" tags that are plastered on up to 1000 questions. Naturally, those tags don't help much at confining, representing or describing content.

The Quixotic task

After an initial push that dissipated last year, I've recently begun the quixotic task of splitting one of those voracious giants into several tags. I collected feedback for target tags, got a go-ahead from my co-moderators, and provided instructions for the retag. Said instructions were until expiration thereof, yet, so far only about 700 edits were done, of which I did 600+ myself. That's still 700 left!

People do seem to agree that the result would be an improvement, yet, apparently it is not sufficient to motivate more users to help. Of course I was hoping that I'd encourage others to step up and help when they saw, but since that apparently isn't happening, I'm getting a bit disheartened… Also, it's incredible frustrating to see the frontpage flooded with old questions whenever I retag another dozen.

Could we please get better tools for operations on large deprecated tags?

Useful would be e.g.

  • A "retag review queue" that gets automatically populated with questions featuring tags marked as deprecated
  • A tool to burninate a tag (with consensus among all moderators)
  • A tool to blacklist useless tags that get re-created immediately after they've been burninated
  • A tool to silently retag a lot of questions at once (preferably with review)
  • A tool to stage a retag that trickles edited questions to the frontpage instead of the usual flood
  • A tool to submit burnination/blacklisting requests to CM review

CM's have been very helpful in the past, but response times can be a hindrance. The need for retags seems to come up in all SEs at some point or another. Some have a great userbase that lends a hand, but on smaller sites it can be extremely arduous to curate content back to order after it grew rampantly without concept for several years. Tags are incredibly important for finding related questions on site and helpful for SEO.

It's not a new idea, but perhaps one whose time has come?

This or similar requests have been made before, and CM has either not responded, or even stated that they'd like to provide better tools. Could this please be reconsidered?

Related discussions following:

  • 9
    I don't have to deal with this quite as often as you do, but every time I am faced with making 80+ question edits manually to nuke a tag or some similar horribly rote manual operation I really, really want the sort of tools you are describing.
    – user155595
    Mar 17, 2016 at 21:51
  • 9
    The problems here always boil down to the lack of a good "undo" coupled with the natural tendency of people to throw their hands up and try to nuke the entire mess - in the process creating the exact situation you've been struggling to rectify. In short, before we can solve any of the other problems, we need to sit down and design a robust system for grouping and potentially rolling back a large number of edits.
    – Shog9
    Mar 17, 2016 at 21:56
  • 4
    @Shog9: A retag review queue would probably result in the same "not undoable" product as manually retagging 600 questions – meanwhile it would be more accessible, easier to facilitate peer reviewing, and institutionalized.
    – Murch
    Mar 17, 2016 at 22:00
  • 6
    Yeah, a review queue is probably the "safest" option... Of course, it also does the least to reduce the manual effort involved. Review tends to work best when you have lots of folks willing to help and simply need a tool to focus that; it'd be nice to have that here, but it'd still be insufficient for very small sites or very large tags.
    – Shog9
    Mar 17, 2016 at 22:18
  • @shog9: There are a few people that look at the review queues regularly. If it were listed there, I'm sure they'd retag a few Q every once in a while at least. Projecting from Bitcoin.SE, I think it could actually help small sites. You'd still need someone that thinks about the utility of tags and marks them deprecated of course.
    – Murch
    Mar 17, 2016 at 22:21
  • 2
    @Shog9: For myself, the structure of "go until you stop [at 20 reviews]" is actually very helpful in motivating me to routinely chip away until the job is done. Breaking up a task into manageable slices and simply presenting the next slice day after day is more powerful than I think you're giving it credit for. (I've found this to be effective in managing overflowing email, for that matter. Setting up a filter for everything older than a certain point, then occasionally advancing that, gives the same general effect of continuing to improve reliably, rather than relying on big bang efforts.) Mar 18, 2016 at 0:52
  • 2
    I wrote a userscript which creates a new "queue" per se that loads all questions in a tag and presents them in a "queue" like fashion. I've found this very useful when doing targeted tag specific reviewing, I've also added a bit in there to filter by a minimum number of close votes or delete votes. It is far from ideal, and just as far from being complete, but it definitely helps remove a lot of the steps in between questions when reviewing them, allowing you to review more questions in a session. Mar 18, 2016 at 4:39
  • 1
  • 1
    No answers, huh? Yet retagging mistagged posts is a problem that affects every site. On ELL, for instance, the tag "grammar" is misused on a widespread scale, see ell.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2699/…. If every new question is tagged grammar, the tag becomes meaningless but how do you retag 5,729 questions without flooding the front page?? Dec 15, 2018 at 21:29
  • Oof, meanwhile it's on 12k, @Mari-LouAСлаваУкраїні
    – Murch
    Jan 6, 2023 at 11:24
  • 1
    One would first need to somehow tie this to AI to get any traction on it getting done.
    – Kevin B
    Jun 16, 2023 at 15:29


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