Proposal. At least for some period after creation of a new tag, there should be a limit on the number of questions where this tag can be added by the tag creator.

EDIT: As a reaction to animuson's comment and Charlie Brumbaugh's answer I will add that probably it would be reasonable that this feature - if implemented - could be added for a site by request. By default it would be off - in a similar fashion as the 50 questions per month limit is added only for sites which request it. (In this way it would not cause problems for smaller sites which are described in the linked answer.)

I suppose that problems like this occur most likely on sites which are large enough - both to have enough questions and enough users with tag-creation privileges. But on the site that I visit most frequently I have seen something like this happen a few times: A user creates a new tag and starts adding it to new questions. In a few days they retag quite a large number of questions. (Sometimes this might be motivated by badge hunting - a user can get Taxonomist badge. Or this might be done with good intentions.) It might take some time before other users notice it - or even if they notice this, it takes time before somebody decides to do something about the new tag. In some cases, this leads to a discussion on the local meta whether the newly created tag is useful or not might follow - and while this is discussed the tag might still be growing. In the end, the result is quite often that many questions are bumped twice - once by the tag-creator and the second time by the volunteers who are doing the clean-up.1

I think that adding a limit on number of questions with the new tag could prevent such problems or at least reduce them. If nothing else, if the tag is obviously bad and the user in question is just badge hunting, this would be spotted and corrected relatively easily without having to bump too many question. (Originally I have asked about this on Mathematics Meta. Mathematics is the site I visit most frequently. I am not able to judge whether there are similar problems on other sites, but on this site I have witnessed situations where a new tag was added to more than 50 questions within few hours or to more than 100 questions in a few days.)2

I am not sure what would be a suitable value for such limit. (In the linked post I have suggested 5 questions per day.) I do not think this limit would hinder legitimate usage too much. After all, if a tag is really useful, it is going to be added organically; not only by the tag creator but also by other users. And if the user in question is trying to create a tag useful for the site rather than just badge hunting, they will probably not mind that there is limit which represents some kind of "evaluation period" for usefulness of the new tag.

1Well, the tag can still be burninated, thus avoiding the manual retagging. Still, this cannot be done by moderators and requires intervention of Stack Exchange staff. So I suppose this is done only in extreme cases. Other option is that the tag is merged with another tag - this can be done by moderators, but it is only suitable in situation when there exists another tag such that all questions with the new tag fit there.

2Just to be fair to the tag-creator, in the first example I linked above, after some discussion it was decided that the tag might be useful and it stayed. In the second example it seems that the tag might stay, although there is a discussion what would be a suitable way to rename tag (at the moment without reaching some consensus). But still, even if the tag stays, I do not see the need for the urgency to add the new tag to 50 question that quickly. (I think I remember a few other cases where the new tag was added to 50 or more question within few days and later the tag was removed - although I would have to search a bit to find the discussions on meta or in chat about those tags. However, I am not sure whether listing such examples adds too much useful context to the post - all my examples would be related to a single site and experienced users can probably tell whether their favorite sites have this kind of problems or not even without having to look for explicit evidence. So I'll stick with the two examples that I was able to find quickly, since they were relatively recent.)

  • Bounties on bug reports and feature requests usually tend to be a waste here. Some other ways of getting official attention for requests are outlined here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/306397/… – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 20 at 6:36
  • @Ano Thanks for the comment. As you say in the linked post, bounty "a good way to get community input, but not official input." Well, additional community input would probably be useful. So, hopefully, I might get response from some users whether they would find this feature useful, what they would change, etc. (If nothing else, at least bounty brings a few more vies and increases likelihood of getting some response.) – Martin Mar 20 at 7:13

Update, the proposal has been changed to say that this is something that could be added only on request and not on all sites by default, and while I still think that it doesn't make sense on smaller sites, perhaps it would on bigger sites (I don't have enough experience to say).

Here is why I don't think it makes sense on smaller sites.

I am the most prolific retagger on the Great Outdoors and I don't like this proposal at all.

Here is where I am coming from,

I while back I realized that a lot of tags were not used consistently and about 1 in 3 lacked usage guidance of any sort. I set out on a goal of making certain that all of the tags had at least basic usage guidance and were used consistently, for example making certain that all of the questions involving cougars/mountain lions had the [cougars] tag applied.

In the process of looking through the tags lacking usage guidance, I found numerous cases where it made sense to create new tags. For example,

  • Instead of using both [fire] and [wood] for a question about firewood, I created the [firewood] tag (14 tag edits).
  • Same for [climbing] and [shoes] being combined to [climbing-shoes] (13 tag edits)
  • Added the [human-waste] tag (12 tag edits)
  • Added the [fire-starting] tag (30 tag edits)
  • Added the [uv-protection] tag (19 tag edits)

In none of these cases did I think that it made sense to write a meta post about creating new tags. Discussing tags isn't very exciting and it didn't seem worth the effort especially since no one was complaining about the new tags.

As of right now, there isn't a single tag without at least a very basic usage guidance statement on the Great Outdoors and I have added over 40 tags since December 9th.

I have been careful to cause as little disruption as possible, doing the retags during times of low activity and rebumping the ones my edits pushed down after finishing a batch back to the home page.

If someone does does add bad tags, and it does happen from time to time, quite often, I am the one to remove them and retag the question with proper tags.

Now, if you were to add the restrictions in your post, it would be that much more irritating for me to add tags and I probably wouldn't want to do it nearly as much.

If a person was limited to say tagging 5 questions after creating a tag, then I can see situations where a tag is applied 5 times and then the user forgets to come back in a couple of days to retag the rest.

Here is my suggestion for what would work better.

Increase the accountability for tag edits and creation, perhaps output them in a nice feed on the tools page where people can see who did what with the tags rather than having to go digging through user profiles to find out what happened.

That way if someone messes up you can publicly shame them easily see what needs to be fixed.

  • 2
    This idea may make little sense on smaller sites, but it could be very useful on larger sites. Just outputting things into a feed is not incredibly useful. At that point, the damage has already been done and requires a lot of time and effort to reverse. The proposal aims to mitigate that by limiting how much damage can be done before anyone has the chance to notice. Something like this would likely be default-off on all sites and only enabled if the site experiences problems with it. – animuson Jan 23 at 3:57
  • @animuson I think SU suffers from this problem. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jan 23 at 10:47
  • If the retagging is valid, you could always bypass the limit by suggesting them as anonymous edits. The only difference would be that the retagging would need to be reviewed, which could be useful to prevent abuse. – Donald Duck Jan 23 at 12:05
  • I can see where you are coming from, but I do not think this would work the same way if the site is big enough. In your examples, you have retagged more than 0.1% of all questions from your site. On a big site, a tag which would appear with the same frequency would lead to retagging hundreds of questions - something like that cannot be really done in one go. Similarly, you have mentioned bumping recent question which were pushed away by the retags - this is certainly doable if the site has two questions per day, but it ... – Martin Jan 23 at 19:45
  • ... would be much more work on a site with several hundreds new questions per day. In short - I agree with animuson that this is quite likely to be more of a problem on graduated sites and bigger sites. (And his suggestion that if it is implemented, it would be switched off by default sounds very reasonable.) – Martin Jan 23 at 19:46
  • @CharlieBrumbaugh I am not sure whether it is approximately what you had in mind, but I have edited the question. – Martin Jan 23 at 21:27
  • @Martin See my updated answer – Charlie Brumbaugh Jan 24 at 3:52

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