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Tags are useful for lots of reasons. Accurate and specific tags: much more-so.
When a site does't have a particular tag, it's easy enough to add a new tag to an existing question.
But, applying a new tag to old questions is problematic, because it bumps the old questions to the top of the active question tab.


In my particular case: I've created a tag on a SE site that probably should have been created long ago. There are hundreds of old questions should (indisputably) have this (as their most relevant) tag. Some of these questions are good, but some are not-so-good, and many already have accepted answers. These questions do not need to be bumped.

The SE site in my particular case is relatively slow; it takes about 2 weeks to drop off the 50 most recently active posts.

What am I supposed to do here? I can see a few option, but they all have problems:

  1. Not create new tags.

    • no, there are some useful tags that haven't been created yet.
  2. Apply the new tag to all of the old questions in one go.

    • this will flood the active questions tab, which is obviously bad.
  3. Apply the new tag to new and currently active questions only.

    • this leaves hundreds of questions without their most relevant tag. The old questions will be harder to find, which encourages duplicates.
  4. Slowly work through the backlog, only retag a few questions each day.

    • this will take months, and continually restock the recently active questions list with a small number of questions that do not need attention.
    • on a highly active site this is probably fine, but on a slow or moderately active site (as in my particular case), this will annoy a lot of users.
  5. Request a new feature (possibly restricted to moderators)

  6. Something else.

    • (?)

This (and related issues) have been a problem for a long time, as documented below. This includes some proposed (yet rejected) solutions. This problem exists across all SE sites and warrants a solution of some kind (possibly only accessible for moderators).

As is, the system for adding a new tag to old questions is broken. Why hasn't this been fixed?


Update

In my particular case I ended up going with option 3. It ended up taking about 2 months (at 2 posts per day) to get (all?) 120 posts tagged with a new tag. This meant that roughly 2/15 posts in the recently active page of the site were related to the same topic for the whole 2 month process. This is certainly not ideal.


List of Related questions

100 edits in one evening. Is it wrong?
Add an administrative edit checkbox for mods that are acting in accord with some meta topic
Add option to not-bump question when editing/answering
A question that has been retagged is listed as being edited.
Allow non-bumping minor edits, but review them on /review
Automatic minor edit capability
Automatically queue up and evenly distribute mass edits
Best way to mass-apply a new tag to old questions
https://music.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3618/bulk-editing-can-it-be-done-without-clogging-the-top-questions-page
Bumped questions after retagging
Can I edit a post without bumping it to the front page?
Can the front page say "retagged" instead of "modified" for a tag-only edit?
Can trivial edits not bump the question?
Change the Taxonomist badge to exclude self-edited questions
Changing tags causes questions to be active
CHAOS-like option for moderators to edit without bumping
Could having (tag-removed) tag be useful?
Could we have the ability to mark a change as minor in questions or answers?
Disabling bumping for retags by hi-rep users
Don't make tag edits bump posts
Dumb Edits keep bumping questions
Editing Binge Etiquette
Editing tag into a series of questions
FAQ for tag creation?
Front page flood rate control system for editing
How much bumping is too much?
Ignoring retagged old questions
Is editing an 'unknown' or 'new' tag into older questions bad, or advised?
Is it acceptable to just go ahead and wipe a tag which obviously shouldn't be used and has few questions tagged?
Is there a way to edit a question without bumping it to the front page?
Is there a way to edit without bumping the question?
It should be possible to retag a question without bumping it to the front page
Let experienced users silently edit their posts
Limit for number of questions where tag can be added by tag-creator soon after the creation of tag
Marking Micro edits
Mark edit as "minor" to prevent bumping
https://scicomp.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/249/miniedit-facility
Minor edit checkbox?
“Minor edit” feature for trusted users
Minor edits should not make questions 'active'
Minor edits, subject to review
Multiple Retagging Etiquette
On retagging questions I have answered
Organizing Edits Without Bumping
Please prevent adding/removing/changing tags from bumping them to the front page
Please split edit queue in two
Proposal to use review queues for tag cleanup
Repurpose the new review system for large-scale tagging operations
Resolving the dissonance on edits and bumps
Retagging/Bumping Etiquette
Retagging causes bumping
Review queue to approve edits to very old posts with/without bumping
"Silent" Edits for MO?
Should editing / adding tags bump the question to the front page?
Should I approve [implementation] tag removal edits piling up in the review queue?
Should question and answer edits make a question go to the top?
System to enable hand-sorted moderator retagging for sizeable disambiguation jobs
Tag cleanup--[light]
Tag editing bumps questions
Tag editing etiquette on old questions
The flip side of no minor edits
The problem with automatically bumping edited posts
Too many ellipsoid questions being bumped to the front page.
Too many retag requests at once?
"Too minor" edits - better to leave poor quality on the site?
Too much retagging
Tool for peer-reviewed no-bump mass retagging
"Trivial edit" checkbox
Unnecesarily retagging old questions that get bumped.
Why are trivial edits discouraged?
Would you like to have the option to edit a question without it being bumped to the main page?
Yet another suggestion for questions bumped by retagging

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  • 5
    This should probably be discussed on the child meta site. The solution will probably depend on the importance of the new tag (which other users might agree or disagree with). If the community reaches a consensus that it's pretty important to add this new tag to old questions, I think that mods of the site can reach out to a CM, and ask them to retag the questions (without bumping them).
    – 41686d6564
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 0:22
  • 4
    @41686d6564standsw.Palestine - I did asked a question on the child meta site. Other users agreed that the tag was good, but said there was no way to add it to questions without bumping them – this is not a local problem. Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 0:37
  • 4
    So, what are you looking for with respect to answers here? Are you wanting to get a response from SE staff? Are you wanting advice as to which option to choose? Overall, it's unlikely that there's going to be a good option any time soon.
    – Makyen
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 3:37
  • 3
    @Makyen – I don't know what to do. The options above are all terrible. Why hasn't this problem be been fixed? Doing nothing about this for over 10 years is just not good enough. A response from SE staff would be nice. Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 11:49
  • ElementsinSpace Unfortunately, there just isn't a good answer here given the current system design. What @41686d6564 has suggested of discussing it on the site's meta is the best route to go. Personally, I'd probably vote for the "do it all in one big process" option, particularly if you have multiple tags you want to handle and can group all of the edits into a single session. It's more disruptive at a single time, but allows the site to recover over a moderately brief period of time (a couple of weeks, as you mentioned, but that's not all that long).
    – Makyen
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 19:58
  • 1
    If you really want have as little disruption as possible, then prior to the large batch of edits, load the front page and any tag pages which you want not to disrupted into tabs in your browser. Then after the mass edits, edit the questions listed in those tabs (without showing new activity) from the bottom up (i.e. reverse recently active order). That will put all those questions back onto the home page. You'll be listed as editor for all of them (i.e. your username will be on every entry on the home page and any tag pages), but the listed posts will be the ones which used to be there.
    – Makyen
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 19:58
  • 2
    @Makyen – I appreciate that you are thinking creatively about other options. If I was a moderator I'd defiantly consider something like that (for several tags) to coincide with a scheduled maintenance downtime. But realistically, trying to work within a broken system is just using the wrong tool for the job. It don't understand why it is impossible to just redesign the system. Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 2:05
  • 2
    It's not technically impossible to redesign the system. However, in order to get it to happen, there has to be substantial agreement that it should happen, or, at least, SE employees need to feel it should happen. Then, even once it's decided that it should happen, developer time needs to be allocated and scheduled. So, even if you could overcome the very long standing policy that there isn't a non-developer edit method which doesn't bump posts, it would take at least weeks, more likely months, prior to anything happening with respect to making actual changes to the system.
    – Makyen
    Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 2:28
  • 1
    Overall, any realistic solution for getting those tags on the questions within the next few years needs to be something which works within the system as it exists now.
    – Makyen
    Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 2:28
  • 1
    "this will take months, and continually restock the recently active questions list with a small number of questions that do not need attention." I'm half certain I tricked in edit on a tag over years - and even when its a task which you can do in bulk, it gets tiring to do it 'correctly' for more than say 15-20 day. Commented Nov 5, 2022 at 5:52
  • 2
    I don't agree here. We do want these edits to be seen. That is for a large part what the network relies on for quality control. You could make mistakes with editing, and hardly ever the tag is the only edit needed, and we want others to be able to correct those. In order to do so, people need to find the edit, and bumping does just that.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 12:02

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