The synonym system needs an overhaul. Right now, there's a synonym request tag, just because of how useless the site's synonym system is, where on some SEs at least it is encouraged not to use it, as you can accidentally screw up the tags and it's hard to fix. It's also hard to find and use, requiring several levels of menu navigation.

I figure a lot of changes are needed, but the foremost would should be to require moderator approval for a new synonym, since they can cause unforeseen problems.

Tags could still require four votes to be accepted as synonyms, that way, and moderators would get a list of 4+ vote synonyms they can approve.

You could then lower the privilege of suggesting synonyms, with the hopes more people will vote on them and moderators can peruse the most popular suggestions, as right now everyone just uses metas (there's a tag specifically for it, ironically) and the whole system has gone to waste.

  • 4
    Why do you think moderators will understand anything about 2 random tags to know whether or not they should be synonyms? Jan 3, 2021 at 12:45
  • @RobertLongson ??? You do realize that there is a synonym-request tag, for requesting the moderators to make tags synonyms? I mentioned it, at the start. But you think the moderators cannot be trusted to have the comprehension to tell... what is a synonynm? I didn't assume it was hard to work out what was a synonym.
    – Johnny
    Jan 3, 2021 at 13:25
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    The synonym-request tag allows subject matter experts to weigh in and voters to vote. All moderators need to do is then look at the score. Jan 3, 2021 at 15:02
  • @RobertLongson That suggests the website's system is flawed, since it doesn't involve any discussion post. If it's less useful than posting in meta, it needs an overhaul. Either way, I was also suggesting a system where moderators need only look at votes, if they really can't tell what's a synonym of what on a site they've used for years.
    – Johnny
    Jan 3, 2021 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


♦ moderators are not necessarily subject matter experts; on larger sites, they might not know anything about a certain topic at all. Therefore, they should not be the only way to establish tag synonyms.

The tag isn't necessarily for requests to moderators; other community members can weigh in too. Perhaps there is a third or fourth tag meaning essentially the same. If there is some sort of consensus or support by the community for the request, which can be checked by looking at the score of the question, a ♦ moderator can apply the synonym even if they are not really familiar with the tags involved.

I do agree the list of suggested tag synonyms could use a more prominent place. Perhaps as a separate review queue? Of course, not everybody would be able to review/vote on it, so it needs a good filter.

  • The issue is, that sometimes a correct synonym can apparently still play havoc with tags, and require extensive moderator activity to fix the tag system (that's how it is on WBSE, at least). So, even though I could work out synonyms, I wouldn't feel confident in structuring a delicate tag system just by voting. I would expect moderators can work out how tags should be structured by experience, better than most... but honestly, they don't need to fully comprehend the issue. They just need to decide if this synonym would cause a bug in the tag system.
    – Johnny
    Jan 3, 2021 at 13:51
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    There's a difference between synonymizing and merging a tag. It took me a while to even begin to understand the system, but so far I haven't encountered any bugs (I'm a moderator on a few sites and have some, but not extensive, experience with the tooling).
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Jan 3, 2021 at 13:54
  • Additionally, I will mention that many tag issues are not complex. You get a large number of simplistic, or perhaps unnecessary tags. You need to either delete or synonymize them... but only moderators can do that, since the tag often has just two questions, and you didn't happen to have two answers for it. That doesn't mean you can't work out if combat is a synonym for fight. And yes, as you say, we really need a better way to present and give access to synonyms, and make them more accessible in general. As it is, the system has been ignored in favour of meta posts.
    – Johnny
    Jan 3, 2021 at 13:54
  • That's the thing, though... I just got access to the system, so I don't really understand it. Just because a word is a synonym doesn't mean it should be a synonym in this system--possibly it should be merged or deleted. But one of the mods told how he had to go to a lot of effort to fix what he thought was a good synonym. Maybe it's specific to WBSE? I heard the system is the same for all SEs. You could contact @HDE 22686 about it, but it happened when he synonmized two reasonable tags.
    – Johnny
    Jan 3, 2021 at 14:00
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    Synonyms can always be reversed, so that action is non-destructive. Merging tags is not.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Jan 3, 2021 at 14:05
  • Like I said, you'd need to ask @HDE 22686 about it. Because he said it wasn't just an easy fix, but that it took him a week. He did say it a while ago. Has the architecture for rollbacks changed significantly? No one mentioned it, if so, and seemed to be under the impression the same problem existed.
    – Johnny
    Jan 3, 2021 at 14:12

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