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I'm a bit unclear what the difference is between a and a .

This tag is for requests to replace one tag with another existing tag. It also applies to requests that one tag should be merged into another, or simply abandoned.

A request to add one tag as the synonym of another tag. Please be specific about which tag should be a synonym of which. Bidirectional synonyms and cycles are implicitly disallowed, so suggest wisely.


A few years back there was a request to Synonymize [retag-request] and [synonym-request], which didn't seem to have ever gone through. The top answer stated the following:

...even though the mechanisms are different I think the [subtle differences] are usually lost on the people making the request.

It's worth noting that

What is the difference between a retag request and a synonym request?

  • Meta: Should this post be tagged with [retag-request] and [synonym-request]? The tags may be misleading, as I am not asking whether or not the two tags should be merged. – Stevoisiak Jul 24 '17 at 16:54
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TL;DR: Retagging/merging changes the tag on each post, while synonyms are a long-lasting redirect.

is for requests that a tag be merged (or manually retagged) in to another...

is for requests that a tag be made a synonym of another.

Merges and synonyms are not the same thing.

Merges actually retag all instances of the old tag, changing existing posts to use the new tag, and that is it. It doesn't stop the tag being used in the future and is basically just a shortcut to manually editing the tags on a bunch of posts.

Merges aren't easy to reverse so can only be done by moderators.

Synonyms affect future uses of the tag and don't retag any existing posts. They just silently turn all further uses of the synonym in to the "master" tag, so if you enter the synonym as a tag on your question it will be replaced with the master tag and if you search for the synonym tag you will see a list of questions tagged with the master tag.

Synonyms can be created by anyone with sufficient reputation (2,500 rep or 1,250 on beta sites and an answer score of 5 or more in the master tag). Synonyms made by users also need to be voted on before they're approved.

  • Is there any reason why someone would want to merge tags instead of creating a synonym? – Stevoisiak Jul 24 '17 at 16:51
  • I guess. Say a tag has wrongly been used with the same meaning as an existing tag, then later that tag needs to be used legitimately for something else: the tag is merged with the older tag to remove it from the older questions and new guidelines are written so the tag can be used correctly from then on. – Cai Jul 24 '17 at 16:56
  • (Although in that case a less ambiguous tag should probably be made instead, but it would be a legitimate use of a merge without creating a synonym) – Cai Jul 24 '17 at 16:57

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