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Some SE sites have questions that apply only to certain countries, or where answers should at least take laws or customs in the country in question into account. Example SE sites would be Workplace, Academia, Expats, Travel, Money or Law. These sites use country tags for this purpose.

Recently, it has been proposed on Meta.Workplace to make these country tags visually distinct, to draw attention to them and avoid people posting answers that simply don't apply to a question tagged with a specific country. The currently top-voted answer suggests adding an icon to country tags, like a globe. This might be doable using the wiring for sponsored tags. The same question at Meta.Academia and Meta.Travel also seem to be popular.

We could, for instance, add small flags to tags: flags on tags However, there seem to be political reasons against this, as per some comments, plus one could imagine disputes about flags (might the PR of China have problems with the Taiwanese flag? Saudi Arabia's flag with the Shahada may be problematic for religious reasons.). A stylized globe would be more politically neutral. I'll set up answers for voting.

I'd like to ask the good folks at SE to allow adding such an icon to country tags. It could then be up to the individual sites whether or not to actually use this feature. (I'd assume people at Travel or Expats don't overlook a country tag as often as they might at Workplace or Academia.)

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    I suggest we all send an e-mail to the government of each country and request them to sponsor the tag ... rate is per capita... – rene May 12 '16 at 7:45
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    Politics.SE has country tags too. I suspect that Arqade might want this for their game tags as well. And CodeReview.SE for programming languages. – Brythan May 12 '16 at 9:07
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    @Brythan how often does a minecraft question get a skyrim answer or a java get a c# answer? – StrongBad May 12 '16 at 13:50
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    I think icons are a very bad way of achieving your goal. A bunch of flags all over the site will just make them distracting. I personally don't even like the existing icons. Most of them are too small to even recognize what it is, and it ends up just looking like a glob of random colors attached to a tag. The core issue here is you want it to stand out that it applies to a specific country, and a color change for the tag is much more viable and eye appealing. The country is already identified in the tag, you don't need an extra icon to identify it a second time. – animuson May 12 '16 at 14:24
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    @animuson I agree. I don't have quite as negative an opinion but I do think that this would damage SE's ability to sell that upgrade to advertisers... and, amazingly, color changing the tags has been suggested recently: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/278889/… – Catija May 12 '16 at 15:37
  • @StrongBad I was thinking more in terms of encouraging people to select a game tag or a language tag for their answer. I don't know that Arqade has a big problem of questions getting answered for the wrong games. Code Review has had a problem with people answering Java questions with C# or vice versa. It's not common, but it's not unknown either. And the bigger problem on both sites is people leaving off the tags altogether. – Brythan May 12 '16 at 16:41
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I think this is a good idea. I also think that country tags are fundamentally different from tags for programming languages and games. On the sites mentioned in the question, the country tag denotes a critical component of the question that is often buried (or even absent) in the text. Further, and more importantly for this proposal, users often miss, or possibly ignore, the country tag. For example, a question tagged often get answers specific to the US.

Regarding the comment that Arqade.SE might want game tags to be made visually distinct and programming stack exchanges might want language tags to be visually distinct, I am not sure how often a question tagged gets a java answer on programming related sites.

  • Also, tags icons are usually sponsored. Adding icons everywhere prevents income. – Patrick Hofman May 12 '16 at 13:59
  • @PatrickHofman while as a company, the SE network needs to think about income, they generally given usability pretty high priority. – StrongBad May 12 '16 at 14:01
  • Indeed, that is just the flip side of giving everything an icon. – Patrick Hofman May 12 '16 at 14:02
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Not sure if that's a good answer, but I made an userscript that can handle this problem until official solution is available.

Looks fine:

image description

Only limited number of countries is included. I don't know how to automatically populate list of countries. I used google search to get tag names for commonly used countries here:

// ==UserScript==
// @name        Country tags
// @namespace   util
// @description Adds CSS love to country flags on Workplace.SE
// @include     http://*.stackexchange.com/*
// @version     1
// @grant       none
// ==/UserScript==
var country = {
  "italy": "it",
  "netherlands": "nl",
  "egypt": "eg",
  "india": "in",
  "ireland": "ie",
  "canada": "ca",
  "switzerland": "ch",
  "france": "fr",
  "united-states": "us",
  "united-kingdom": "uk",
  "germany": "de"
};
var countryNames = Object.keys(country);

var style = document.createElement('style');
style.type = 'text/css';
style.innerHTML = ".country-tag {"+
"  background-size: 2em auto;  "+
"  background-position: 0.5em center;"+
"  padding-left: 3em;"+
"  background-repeat: no-repeat;"+
"  background-repeat: no-repeat;"+
"}";
document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(style);


$("a.post-tag").each(function() {
  if(countryNames.indexOf(this.innerHTML)!=-1) {
    this.style.backgroundImage = "url('//www.geonames.org/flags/m/"+country[this.innerHTML]+".png')";
    this.className +=" country-tag";
  }
});
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As a mod at Money.SE, I'd be curious to see if anything would actually help the issue the flags are trying to address. In our case, there seems a plurality of US members, and unless a question is stated in a foreign currency, the tag is ignored and the question answered as if US.

Earlier today, question regarding Canada retirement account. It was interesting to me, but I would assume my US knowledge would help. Within seconds, the answer appeared, "I'm american and know little of Canadian law. I assume what I state here to be similar to American law..."

In this case, flag or not, the new member decided to answer a question that would probably be wrong.

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    ... seems like the easy solution is to delete them as NAA... because they aren't. – Catija May 12 '16 at 23:26
  • Agreed, but that would confirm that the new tags would just be business as usual. The question is whether it will change behaviour, and my opinion, is that it won't. – JoeTaxpayer May 13 '16 at 18:31
  • I would think answer bans could come into play there... if people consistently opt to ignore the stated country of interest, they will have a really high answer deletion percentage that could then cause the answer ban to come into effect (I don't know exactly how answer bans work)... that would definitely prevent them from answering anything at all... New users are the bigger issue (I hope) but they're also more prone to getting answer bans... existing users should be able to adjust with a meta topic or, if they're doing it consistently, some direct contact. – Catija May 13 '16 at 19:03
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Currently in meta, there are required tags: , , , . These are highlighted by a different color. E.g. contrast with . This makes it easy to see the most important tag for the question. Changing the color and not providing an icon would retain sponsored tags' privileged nature while making country tags more prominent.

There are two problems with things like country tags. First, people tend to leave them off. Second, people sometimes ignore them. In regards to game (Arqade) and programming language (Code Review, etc.), the first is the larger problem. In my opinion this suggests that country tags are not the only tags that should be promoted. Thus I would suggest a system that allows for sites to specify which tags they want to differentiate from the others rather than a system that only works for country tags.

Note that I am not arguing that these tags should be required as with the tags on the meta sites, just strongly encouraged. It seems to me that it is possible to ask neutral questions on most sites (Code Review might be an exception).

  • The issue with country tags, I believe, is predominately the second one (people ignoring them). Getting people to use tags on questions is a very different problem from getting people to respect tags when answering. – StrongBad May 12 '16 at 17:25
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    If you're going to turn this into my feature request, could you at least link to it? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/278889/… – Catija May 12 '16 at 17:31

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