I propose that something be done on SO to prevent ambiguous tagging. (and maybe this is happening and I don't know it, if so, disregard.)

For instance, in my spare time I'm looking at posts tagged Unity.

Unity is the example I'm looking at because it covers Unity as a Library for IoC (among other things) and Unity (or Unity3d) which isn't always tagged properly.

As someone struggling to get reputation (It takes me longer to get a solution than the people who are just quicker on the draw than I am... but I digress.) I don't know if this is covered higher up in the hierarchy of ranking, or if there might be a way to address this at the user level (e.g. a metatagging system whereby users get interesting posts based on tag+search result score...)

Well, happy discussion, and I hope this leads to something.

  • 2
    Don't sweat the rep. Just be careful you don't ever get a big head about a number where you start whipping it out like you're back at school.
    – random
    Commented Nov 27, 2009 at 21:56
  • 1
    @random: Hell, what's the point of rep, then? ;)
    – Jed Smith
    Commented Nov 27, 2009 at 22:31
  • @random is that a way of saying, "its not the rep, its how you use it?" Commented Nov 28, 2009 at 1:38
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    meta.stackexchange.com/questions/125234/… there are serious discussions on whether there is an automatic way to warn questioners.
    – Lex Li
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 9:44

3 Answers 3


Two methods for clearer subject tagging:

  • The community of users above 500 rep will retag to the proper subject matter - It's good, but then people have to know what tags best fit a question. But it's there and does happen. Though maybe not as fast as some would want.
  • Enlist the Meta to discuss any retag requests - Thus helping further and correctly organise the site as well as to see somethings about the tag subjects you might not have been aware of at first.
    This may include having to create a new tag to split out the questions mixed in with a current tag but better delineates the topic.

There will always be people who tag incorrectly. It just is.


This is a common problem when dealing with a folksonomy, as opposed to a thesaurus or other controlled vocabulary for tagging.

The basic problem is that 'unity' might mean different things to different people, and people select what makes sense to them. As they have no definition for the given term, they have no way of validating that they've selected the correct term. (and I use the term 'correct' rather loosely, as there is rarely ever a 'correct' term without specifying the context why it was cataloged.)

For example, three people might use the term 'jets', but if one likes aircraft, one works in plumbing, and the other is a solar physicist, they're going to use the term differently.

As StackOverflow will recommend tags, you can try adding a more qualified tag ('unity-ioc'), and then hoping that people will then select between that and 'unity3d' rather than just using 'unity' for any new tagging.

Even with that, you're still going to run into problems. Just the other day, Google released the 'Go' programming language, but it turned out there already a language called 'Go!' from 2003. So, 'go-language' might not have been ambiguous if the tag was applied in 2006, but it is when it's used now.

  • Not to mention the board game go, making it even harder to find those results you want!
    – ErikE
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 6:22
  • @ErikE : hopefully even if someone's programming a Go game, or attempting to analyze all of the possible moves, they wouldn't tag it 'go', but I guess that's a possibility. The problem I've actually run into on here is that the 'IDL' tag had been for the Interactive Data Language, but people started using it instead for the Interface Description Language, so we've had to re-tag all of the older IDL questions. (and it looks like a lot more have been entered since then, so I guess I have more to fix)
    – Joe H.
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 16:54
  • I mostly meant searching the internet rather than tags here.
    – ErikE
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 18:21
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    The current tag recommendation system sucks here, as it does not show ubuntu-unity when you type unity (unity3d does appear). So if there is a demand to resolve ambiguity, the recommendation system must be enhanced to be smarter.
    – Lex Li
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 9:46

One option is to convince a company to sponsor one of the tags. For example, if we got the company to sponsor the Unity-3d tag, you'd easily know if you tagged your question correctly or not (hint: correctly tagged questions would have a little logo on the tag).

  • Could the company just sponsor the "unity" tag in an attempt to preempt its meaning? Commented May 17, 2010 at 18:12
  • @Chris - no, because they would only control the image on the tag widget, and not how the community uses the tag. Commented May 17, 2010 at 18:26
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    Right, but getting their logo on the tag widget would presumably influence what users think the tag means. That doesn't seem so bad for a new tag, but when it goes against existing usage, it would seem to create a conflict. Commented May 17, 2010 at 19:54

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