Note: I'm not requesting that this be changed; I'm asking a neutral question as well as starting a discussion.

I'm aware that in order for users to be notified upon their question being edited, the edit has to be substantive enough, and that simply editing the tags of a question won't result in a notification.

Occasionally, I've seen staff members here add in a status tag without making any answer or comment, or substantive edit. As such an edit is tag-only, users aren't notified of the decision of their bug report or feature request if the staff member or moderator opts to go this route.

Is there a reason why this is the case? Was this considered when the decision was made to not notify in any case if the only edit is a retag, even if it involves moderator-only tags? If so, why was it decided to not notify the user regarding the decision of their request in this case?

If not, should users be notified if a moderator edits a status tag without providing an answer, comment, or substantive edit?

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It's not good design, mostly because it's based on assumptions that we'd leave a response when putting a status tag on something. But practically speaking, that's not always possible, especially when putting status tags on posts closely related to others that warrant receiving them after a bug was fixed, or new functionality, or whatever.

Using the VSTS (err, DevOps) backend and API, we hope to bring something we've never been very good at to bugs and feature requests ... presence. Just like in messengers when you see a contact light up? Well, bug reports need to light up or blink when someone's actively doing something with them, same for features. The lack of that actively contributes to a perception that we don't see them (we do, it's just hard to indicate presence for each one in a way that doesn't inflate people's expectations).

I have no idea what this is going to look like once we get something working, and the idea of just having status tags send notifications might be helpful if it looks like it'll be quite a while before we get that sorted out, but that would still often times create more questions than give answers if there wasn't an accompany reply, or at least a link to a post where a relevant reply was posted.

We're aware this isn't optimal and we have taken some pretty big steps to fix it on the back end, I'll try to get an update on what we think is a reasonable ETA for at least testing some better ways to give folks some indication of what's moving around from the outside looking in as soon as I can. We're probably looking at the first half of 2019, but it's too far out to say at this point.

If not, should users be notified if a moderator edits a status tag without providing an answer, comment, or substantive edit?

To answer the part of the question:

Yes, users should receive a notification about this special type of tag-only edit.

A moderator tag is substantive enough, since it is like a cross between a tag and an answer. Its information content goes far beyond just noting what a question is about:

A tag is a word or phrase that describes the topic of the question. Tags are a means of connecting experts with questions they will be able to answer by sorting questions into specific, well-defined categories.

That's what a tag is according to the help center.

A moderator tag instead provides direct feedback from the Stack Exchange staff, often settling the matter - e. g. when a is declined or completed, likewise a completed or status-by-design etc. It may contain more information than an official answer, e. g. if that's only an apology (doesn't tell you whether the bug was fixed).

This special status of moderator tags warrants its own notification, so that the OP is informed immediately of new developments.

  • Actually outside of being mod only - I don't think there's anything unique to those tags – Journeyman Geek Dec 3 at 14:31
  • 2
    @JourneymanGeek It's about their meaning and the information they contain. Unlike the other tags, they are not just for filtering questions (they are not even that useful for it), but directly give you feedback. E. g. in this question, replacing tag tags with moderator-tags increases searchability and is more precise, but adding status-by-design answers (at least a) part of the OP's question. – Anne Daunted Dec 3 at 14:35

If it was my decision I would also decide it's not worthwhile to notify when only adding a status tag for the following reasons:

  • In most cases, when fixing or rejecting a bug/feature request, there is also official response from SE team explaining what went wrong or at least saying "Fixed in build [...]". Such response comes as either an answer or a comment when it's a minor thing, in both cases it already cause notification. No need to two notifications for same thing. In the rare cases when the fix is recent and there's not even a comment, it probably means it was too trivial anyway.
  • Many times the status tag is added long after the bug is fixed, when someone notice it's fixed and flagging the question asking to tag it properly. In such cases, notifying is not really relevant since it might have been fixed for years already, probably as part of some other change in the code or system.
  • Many times bug reports closed as duplicate are getting the status tags as well, and this also happens usually after long time when someone notice and flags.

Bottom line: while I agree it's not a minor edit, I don't think it justifies a notification.

Occasionally, I've seen staff members here add in a status tag without making any edit or comment, or substantive edit

I've seen this happening, but not that often. Are there any hard figures about this? I can try to make a SEDE query, but we need to exclude situations where a moderator just adds a tag because other users already clarified that the issue is solved.

I agree that such a tag edit is important enough for a notification; the main disadvantage that I currently see is that you'll get notified twice about the same post; one for the answer/comment and one for the edit.

Also, closing a question as not reproducible and adding a tag are used interchangeably. The first doesn't cause a notification; it feels a little strange that the second would. But then again, maybe you should receive notifications for question closures as well.

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