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Depending on what site(s) in the network you spend your time on, you may or may not know that Stack Overflow recently spent a long time trying out something called Documentation. One of the features we added to SO for that now-closed project was the notion of tags having a "friendly name". For example, 's "friendly name" might be "Microsoft SQL Server", which allowed a much nicer presentation:

Microsoft SQL Server docs page

This provided a workaround for a lot of the issues with trying to cram lengthy "official" names into the short, strictly formatted tag name—even after expanding the length of tags from 25 to 35 characters—but is currently unused since Docs is gone*. So rather than throwing away what appears to be a generally-useful bit of functionality, why not use friendly names on the tag's pop-up card:

mockup of tag pop-up for sql-server showing "Microsoft SQL Server" friendly name

This question is about not only retaining the ability to associate a "friendly name" with tags, but expanding this functionality to all sites. We're thinking this might be helpful for long product names, titles of books and movies and games, the occasional given name, &c.

The input field for a friendly name would be located on the tag wiki edit page, and accept standard plain text; basically anything a question title could take.

sample input field for friendly name

Would you find this helpful? Harmful? Just kinda meh? We're thinking this is a pretty straightforward keeper, so if you've got concerns, now's the time to raise them.

*: Discussion about the Docs sunset generally is outside the scope of this post; there's plenty of that on SO's meta, if you're interested.

  • Are these "Friendly tag names" something that can have special characters/markdown, etc? For those of us who don't know how it's implemented, could you explain what extra work is done to set these names? – Catija Oct 20 '17 at 18:16
  • @Catija No markdown. Just plain text. There's basically another input field at the top of the tag wiki edit page: i.stack.imgur.com/n4OxC.png – Adam Lear Oct 20 '17 at 18:21
  • @AdamLear Does that include ordinary characters which aren't currently supported in tag names (apostrophes, for example)? – Rand al'Thor Oct 20 '17 at 18:22
  • While the tag length increase has helped on Arqade, I can definitely still see this helping for a number of cases. – Ash Oct 20 '17 at 18:23
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    @Randal'Thor Yeah, it's just a text field. Anything you could put in, say, a question title you could use there. – Adam Lear Oct 20 '17 at 18:23
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    Still better to have "Pan's Labyrinth" than "pans-labyrinth"... – Catija Oct 20 '17 at 18:26
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    On the other hand, @Catija, it allows us to have "IBM® Bluemix®". :-( – Jon Ericson Oct 20 '17 at 18:28
  • It's definitely a good thing (the example is one of the most misused tags on the network) but who gets to decide what the friendly name is and do you have any stats about people using the friendly name better than the normal one? If people actually read the tag description then there's no need for the friendly name but you're proposing using the same mechanism for surfacing the friendly name as is used for the tag description. – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 20 '17 at 21:37
  • @benisuǝqbackwards it will be available when editing the tag wiki (See Adam's comments on Rand's answer), so 20k rep users will decide the friendly name. (It won't appear when only suggesting a tag wiki edit) – Shadow Wizard Oct 20 '17 at 22:24
  • Is this integrated with search? E.g. searching for a specific tag on /tags, or the suggested tags when you ask a question. Will this include results based on the friendly name of the tag? If it doesn't, I think that will be a really feature to add if it isn't too hard. – angussidney Oct 21 '17 at 3:00
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This could be a nice addition.

On many of the sites where I'm active (Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature, Movies & TV), tag names are less formatted than we'd ideally like, occasionally even confusingly so. For example, when the names of people or characters are used as tags, it would be nice to see them starting with capital letters. Some tags are still suffering from truncation even after the character limit increase, and it would be nice to see the full name a little more prominently than as just the first few words of the tag wiki excerpt. Some tag names should technically include extra characters such as apostrophes or hyphens, which aren't supported or would be confusing in the current tag name system.

For example:

It's not by any means a vital change, and there are other things I'd be more happy to see changed, but it would certainly be nice.

A small practical concern

What rep privilege would be required to create these "friendly tag names"? At the moment (on graduated sites), anyone with 300 rep can create a new tag - and name it, obviously - without oversight, but it requires 5,000 rep to review edits to tag wikis and excerpts and 20,000 rep to make such edits without oversight. Would creating a "friendly tag name" be a low-rep privilege like existing tag names, or a high-rep privilege like tag wikis and excerpts?

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    The input field is on the tag wiki editing page (I think I edited that into the question while you were writing your answer so you didn't see it), so, high-rep. – Pops Oct 20 '17 at 18:36
  • I will say the privilege should be given at 5k as my opinion. Can low rep users suggest these names @Pops like the tag wiki or tag excerpts? – Nog Shine Oct 20 '17 at 18:36
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    At the moment it is shown to users with the Trusted User privilege level. In other words, if you can edit a tag wiki directly, you can edit the name. – Adam Lear Oct 20 '17 at 18:51
  • @Adam it's not shown as an option when suggesting a tag wiki edit then? – Jon Clements Oct 20 '17 at 19:19
  • @JonClements Correct. The way tag wiki edit suggestions work makes implementation complicated. For example, if someone suggests edits to both the excerpt and the wiki, those end up in the system as two separate suggested edits. We could possibly add a third for the friendly name (or make it a part of the wiki body edits or something), but I'm not sure off the top of my head if that's going to create problems. There's a number of assumptions in suggested edits that don't really support the idea of multiple distinct "fields". – Adam Lear Oct 20 '17 at 19:26
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    I don't see a real problem having this as 20k privilege. Lower rep users can suggest names in meta or chat, same way low rep users can ask for new tags. – Shadow Wizard Oct 20 '17 at 21:56
  • At the moment (on graduated sites), anyone with 300 rep can create a new tag, false. you need more in SO – Optimus Prime Oct 21 '17 at 7:40
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    @OptimusPrime But who cares about SO, right? :-P – Rand al'Thor Oct 21 '17 at 11:10
  • O_O? SO have the first priority than others – Optimus Prime Oct 21 '17 at 17:12
13

Would be a useful feature in my opinion, and adding a small of my own: show the friendly name in the window title when visiting a question or tag's questions list, where it's now showing the raw tag name.

9

Yes please! This makes a ridiculous amount of sense everywhere. It elevates tags from something merely for searchability (though being able to search friendly names would be nice) into something a little bit more human readable. It reduces ambiguity where tags have punctuation, accents or other odd things in em. Used correctly, there's quite literally no real downside to this. It certainly seems like useful functionality that would be useful in most sites.

Outside me possibly picking up a new hobby fixing these when I'm really bored. I could live with that. Or maybe emoji in these, but we can flog the guilty with a wet noodle.

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