I know that this is a somewhat recondite and mostly harmless hobby for a few users, but to stop it being vastly irritating for the rest of us can I suggest:

  • Retags of questions more than week old should not appear on the front page as newly edited questions.

  • That the retaggers get it right. This question Two '==' equality operators in same 'if' condition are not working as intended has had the [equals-operator] added to it. But C++ doesn't have an "equals operator", it has an "equality operator", or possibly "operator==". Pedantic I know, but some of these retags seem to be exercises in pedantry.

And to make a third and hopefully constructive suggestion:

  • People should retag the questions in their own area of expertise when the questions are actually posted. If all of those of us that can do this did so, I think a lot of the tag problems would go away, though I still think that only 5K users should be able to create them. I've never counted, but I reckon I retag half a dozen questions a day as they appear.
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    I thought about adding the waffles tag just for irony.. – Earlz Apr 10 '10 at 19:47
  • @earlz: I wanted to add [feature-request] [retagging] [front-page] and remove [complaint]. ;) – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 19:48
  • @gGome [complaint] was a not very good joke - see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/45782/t-shirt-time-beta/… – nb69307 Apr 10 '10 at 19:54
  • Useful, similar discussion/guidelines: c2.com/cgi/wiki?StupidLittleEdits (e.g. "..because it causes more entries in RecentChanges"). – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 20:21
  • possible duplicate of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/29394/… – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:33
  • Also relevant: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/354/batch-retagging – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:33
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    I didn't realize it, but your question contains conflicting requests. 1) "Retags ... should not appear on the front page" and 2) "That the retaggers get it right." - This amuses me. How are the retaggers supposed to get it right without someone double checking their work? What mechanism therefore do you suggest that we employ so that your second requirement is met, especially given that your first requirement removes the current accepted method of enforcing #2? Also, what mechanism do you propose to fix #3 - fixing only in area of expertise? Sounds like a separate feature request... – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:40
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    @Pollyanna I was suggesting that if retaggers were not sure, they should not retag - there is such a thing as common sense. And why you think #3 requires any site changes, I really can't imagine. – nb69307 Apr 10 '10 at 20:43
  • Oh, the irony of this question getting bumped to the front page by a retag... – Chris Frederick Aug 22 '11 at 18:09

I... sort of disagree. We need a "don't bump" button, because sometimes retagging a question can have huge ramifications to the answers (If, for example, the asker only says what version of whatever it is they're using in a comment on an answer, that's pretty darn pertinent), and sometimes we're retagging visualC to visual-c.

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    @Phoshi My proposal is that during the first week, the tag changes do bump. Very few questions have a lifetime longer than that, and even fewer of those are retag candidates. If they do need a bump following a retag, simply make a trivial change to the question text. – nb69307 Apr 10 '10 at 19:26
  • @Neil Butterworth: I can get behind that. – Phoshi Apr 10 '10 at 20:58

Having a question show up on the front page after a retagging actually performs a function - quality control.

If we allow "invisible tagging" - or in other words give people a way to edit tags without pushing it somewhere that people check them out, then we leave a huge loophole in the system for abuse.

I know it's annoying, but given the volume of question SO already receives, tagging doesn't add all that much.

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  • @Pollyanna Ah, come on! When someone goes on a retagging spree, the front page becomes all but unusable. And as for the QA aspect, given that very few people care about the tags , I don't believe it does. I only noticed the "equals-operator" thing (for example) because I was already going to post here about retagging anyway. – nb69307 Apr 10 '10 at 19:35
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    @Neil - "very few people care about the tags" That is so untrue it's unintentionally hilarious. You might as well propose that we get rid of tagging altogether if you truly believe that no one cares. As far as the sprees go - if someone is changing all instances of one tag to another, then it should be done by a moderator using the moderator panel. These changes don't show up on the front page. But if someone is changing a bunch of different tags to other tags, then yes - for purposes of quality control they should be pushed back to the front page. – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 19:42
  • @Pollyanna: Just to be clear, do you think I should stop my retagging (of more than a few questions) and let moderators do it instead? – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 19:46
  • @Pollyanna People here may care, but on SO? Of the many thousands of SO users I bet the number that use or care about accurate tagging is less than 1%. How many times does a retag performed by a "hobbyist" get reversed? Can you provide me with even one example? – nb69307 Apr 10 '10 at 19:57
  • @Neil: Perhaps if you have a certain rep (5k? 10k?) retagging-only shouldn't bump? – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 20:02
  • @Gnome - If you are converting one tag to another, please post a message on meta requesting the moderators perform this action. It causes less friction on the site, and can be peer-reviewed here. – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:03
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    @Polly: I respectfully disagree; seems that way leads only to moderator workload better spent elsewhere. What about this concrete example? – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 20:07
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    @Neil - Here's a few tags that were recently created and were correctly changed by someone who noticed the problem: so-urgent-i-cant-format words-that-end-with-an-s coucndb Whether it's a retag or a first tag doesn't matter. It sounds like you are saying that this change would not lead to abuse. I disagree. – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:09
  • @Polly: Though those three were edited 10k+ users, sure they didn't catch them through the new tag page? (Actually, how did you find the one you edited? :P) – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 20:16
  • @Gnome - The moderator retagging tool was specifically developed for mass retagging without bumping the questions. You are doing good work, no doubt, but you are doing work that is meant to be performed by the moderators, and you are irritating SO users (as evidenced by this question) in the process. Now you have the rep and ability to do this - and whether you do it is up to you. But once consensus is reached here, it takes all of 30 seconds to do the mass retagging, and there are what, a handful of such requests a day? It's not an issue, and if it becomes one they'll get another mod. – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:20
  • @Gnome: I hope you don't resent me not doing it, I was really unsure as to the proper nomenclature for this one. Having OCD is hard, man! – MPelletier Apr 10 '10 at 20:22
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    @MPe: Of course not, hard to resent someone for not donating their time to improve a service like SO. – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 20:25
  • @Gnome - Related - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/354/batch-retagging – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:32
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    @Polly, @Gnome: if it's a straight conversion that all instances of [tagA] need to be retagged [tagB], i agree with getting the mods to do it. if it's not a straight conversion, and [tagA] needs to be conditionally retagged [tagB] or [tagC] and [tagD], the mod tag tool won't help anyways. if some [tagA] questions need to get [tagB] and [tagC] but most can get by with [tagB], manually do the former and let mods handle the latter. – quack quixote Apr 10 '10 at 20:33
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    @Aarobot - "frivolous retags happen very rarely on old questions" and that is because people know it will result in a bump and it will be peer reviewed. If you remove this, you WILL see tag abuse that the current system takes care of through normal peer review and peer pressure. The "solution" that is being offered will only result in tag abuse that requires more moderator attention towards people who wouldn't do it if they knew it was going straight to the front page for everyone else to check. – Pollyanna Apr 11 '10 at 4:18

I definitely agree that some retags shouldn't bump questions to the front page. Some of these questions are months or years old and already have accepted answers. These questions may be in need of cleanup but are definitely not in need of special attention.

They shouldn't be bumped unless there's been a significant change, and a retag isn't one of those. I'd say the same about minor typo corrections, but I doubt there's any easy way for the system to know the difference; at least with retags, the system knows for sure that the content of the question wasn't changed.

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    So I should be able to go to SO and find a 2 year old question and retag it to waffles unicorns earlz-is-cool im-bored and no one should be notified? – Earlz Apr 10 '10 at 19:48
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    @earlz: Someone will find it eventually, then 5 more will and finally the 7th will flag for moderator attention. Then you get to enjoy having 1 rep for a month! They could be listed on the 10k tools page, and I'd be surprised if moderators can't view them separately already either. – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 19:51
  • @Gnome. I'm just here for the waffles anyway. I don't need SO!! (just one more hit and I'm done!) – Earlz Apr 10 '10 at 19:52
  • @earlz You probably should not be able to create those tags, let alone use them. If tags were hard to create, in rep terms, moderating them would be easy. – nb69307 Apr 10 '10 at 20:00
  • @earlz: Maybe not a perfect solution, but 10k users have the "new tags" link, so if some user started creating garbage tags, we would see it. Besides, if the question's already been answered and has had no bump-worthy activity for months, it doesn't really matter if it takes a few weeks for the tag to get fixed. – Aarobot Apr 10 '10 at 20:20
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    @Gnome - "Someone will find it eventually" How? @Neil - Are you suggesting that in order to implement this feature request, we will also need to raise the rep requirements for creating new tags? If so you need to add that to your request. If not, then it's not a valid defense against invisible retagging. – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:24
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    @Aarobot - That will help find new tags, but not existing but wrongly used tags. Pushing it to the front page for many people to review it is far more thorough. – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:25
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    @Polly: Tongue-in-cheek that eventually someone will find it through Google or other means. (I agree with you about catching abuse, as outlined in my answer.) – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 20:27
  • @Pollyanna Already suggested in an answer - see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/36841/allow-10ks-to-merge-tags/… – nb69307 Apr 10 '10 at 20:37
  • @Pollyanna - the tag synonym/blacklist system scheduled for delivery in 6-8 weeks would be a far more effective solution than bumping the questions to the front page. – Aarobot Apr 10 '10 at 20:45
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    @Aarobot - I fully support the synonym/blacklist system, and it should really alleviate re-tagging issues. I'd rather they work on that than spend time making it so retagging doesn't bump under certian conditions. – Pollyanna Apr 10 '10 at 20:53
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    @Pollyanna - they can do both. Eliminating this form of bumping would take 6-8 minutes as opposed to 6-8 weeks. – Aarobot Apr 10 '10 at 21:11

One of the main reasons for retagging is to push the question back up into the queue so that it can be answered by people with expertise in the new tag, especially if they're a week old. Maybe only unanswered questions should get pushed back to the top?

This is a community run site, you are never going to be able to stop people from being wrong, but you can provide incentives. Retagging is one of the only features available at fairly low level reputation that doesn't have a feedback system (vote up or down). Perhaps there should be some way to offer reputation incentives for that

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  • So you're saying people should retag to bump and get a different audience to look at their question? – random Apr 11 '10 at 3:05
  • This seems like pretty dubious practice, and in fact I don't think it happens very much. – nb69307 Apr 11 '10 at 9:31

I tentatively agree with not showing retagged-only questions as active. It does seem to be one way to catch abuse (e.g. to revert it). It would prevent mass manual retags (of which I have done in the 20-70x question range) from cluttering the homepage, but that action might be exactly the kind of abuse (e.g. 50x for taxonomist) that needs to be seen.

However, there is something to be said for uniform tagging of equivalent concepts across languages, but at only 18x [equals-operator], that could just as easily swing to [equality-operator] (none currently).

As someone who has this hobby, I do try to get it right (and always appreciate constructive criticism where I go wrong). I suspect I would have chosen equals over equality for consistency, if the distinction had even occurred to me (since colloquially they're pretty much the same), so I can't blame Jon much here.

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  • The problem is there are far too many tags! Having tags for all the possible language operators (for all languages!) like "equality-operator", "address-of-operator", "composite-or-assignment-operator" etc. is just silly, IMHO. – nb69307 Apr 10 '10 at 19:22
  • @Neil: I agree; but tags are currently the main source of input to the "related questions" box (AFAIK), so if there aren't more appropriate tags for the question and that tag is appropriate (instead of just tangentially related), they can be helpful. – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 19:46

Regarding the tags on the question you mentioned (because I retagged it), I completely understand the objection.

Yes, I realize it may have been better to use [equality-operator] rather than the existing [equals-operator] tag. However, if we start getting into using both [equality-operator] and [equals-operator], that will result in a mess when new questions are posted (or even retagged). It's a spot for tag synonyms, certainly. Until that's implemented, I think it's better to just group them together in a similar tag instead of being pedantic about it. (Better searchability is the goal, yes?)

As for the retagging, I completely support any measure taken to:

  • Not bump questions to the front page during an obvious retagging. I think it's reasonable that if only the tags change, a question should not be bumped. This would be a feature available only to users beyond a certain rep threshold. (By the way, I would even support this if the rep threshold is above my current score on SO.)
  • Increase the rep threshold needed to create tags. This isn't a huge problem per se, but finding those crap tags is. The only filters there are now are (a) seeing a new question with one of these tags and retagging it immediately, and (b) the 10k tools. Even with that, the tags can only been seen near the time of creation. It is currently impossible to get a list of all tags matching a certain pattern. See also, my request to improve the Tag Search user experience. If there was a way to do this, there would be far fewer crap single-use tags in the system, because I would be active in cleaning them up.

It really sucks that people like myself want to help organize the content of the sites, but in the process of doing so, negatively affect the user experience of others, particularly when the site is in a period of low activity.

I try to be conscious of how fast/slow the sites are to throttle my edits, but it's really difficult sometimes. If I feel like doing a retag late at night and no one is asking questions, it's a situation where either I do a fraction of the work I'm willing to do by throttling my edits, or sacrifice usability of the front page. That's no-win if you ask me, so we need to come up with a better option.

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I think the "badge for creating a tag 50 or more users have used" should be removed, to stop people re-tagging, using obscure badge names etc in the hope of achieving this badge. It isn't an achievement to have been the first person to post a "C" programming question and so used a badge 50 people are really likely to use.

Stupid tags like "hurts-my-head" should definitely be removed.

Finally, I agree, but I think Qs marked as answered should not be bumped (it is legitimate to bump a question older than so long if it has been, for example, appropriately re-tagged). This shouldn't affect many questions as, as you say, most questions last a week at most.

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    I've not seen enough abuse to warrant removing the badge, and it does seem appreciated by those that have it (but, sadly, not me, yet ><). – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 19:49
  • I guess the 50 users limit prevents most abuse, but still, it isn't really an "achievement" per se as it becomes exponentially harder to achieve as the number of SO users grow. It feels to me like it's a badge for those "around in the beginning" rather than something that adds much value to the system. – user142852 Apr 10 '10 at 20:06
  • You mean like the [beta] badge? None of the badges directly add value, but they are intended to encourage desired behavior while minimizing abuse encouragement. Some of the latter is unavoidable, but you could even say desired: it makes people care about the system, their "score", and eventually motivate them to add value, hopefully. – Gnome Apr 10 '10 at 20:43
  • @Gnome sort of, but I don't mind that because the users have added value and it is conceivable that a SOv2 might come out with certain users trialling it, thereby earning a [beta] badge. So it isn't just for those who signed up for the initial beta but for those who signed up for any beta at any point. And that does add value because it encourages people to try betas and come on here to discuss. – user142852 Apr 10 '10 at 20:48

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