The tag synonym proposal system doesn't allow you to propose a synonym if the source tag has more instances than the target. I haven't seen the reasoning on that yet, but I think it's probably not a good restriction to have, as a majority of people typing a particular tag doesn't necessarily make it ideal. For example, somehow [word2007] took off and has several dozen more instances than [microsoft-word-2007], even though other cases like [word2003] don't even exist. More generically, [msword] is crushing [microsoft-word]. Why can't we add synonyms to make these go in the right direction?

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    I go through lengths to produce a (needlessly lengthy) analysis on why automation that defaults to higher numbers is bad, and it turns out it is already implemented?
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jul 22, 2010 at 14:57

3 Answers 3


Why can't we add synonyms to make these go in the right direction?

We can, we just post a retag request on the meta sites. This protection is in place to ensure that the most popular tags always take preference.

The tag synonym system is not a complete replacement to the retag requests, some cases need careful review by mods.

  • I meant why can't we propose synonyms going from unpopular to popular. I've noticed you say a few times that it's extremely bad to have a synonym going from an unpopular tag to a popular tag, but it seems like the popular tags often take off because they're shorter, even if they're wrong. word2007 is a great example; it shouldn't be that way. Even if every question in the system is tagged with it, it's completely against the normal version convention and should be changed. I'd hoped tag synonyms would obviate the need for retag requests on meta, but it sounds like that's not the intent Jul 29, 2010 at 1:43
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    @Michael, totally, anything controversial like going from popular to unpopular should be discussed on meta. people are used to the popular tags
    – waffles
    Jul 29, 2010 at 1:56
  • @waffles: I'd like more control of the system, but I can also see how this would be dangerous. Would the team consider an alternate (higher) set of acceptance parameters for "reverse" synonyms like that?
    – Jon Seigel
    Jul 29, 2010 at 2:07
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    @Jon this is a total edge case, we would only be talking about a handful of times we want to do this on Stack Overflow, and all of those cases need some sort of discussion (like hg -> mercurial vs svn -> subversion) low traffic tags can be retagged manually anyway. so what we are dealing with is a well established bad norm, imho the mods need to look at those on a case-by-case
    – waffles
    Jul 29, 2010 at 2:13
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    Also, I do not want to make the system way more complicated just to account for this
    – waffles
    Jul 29, 2010 at 2:13
  • Okay, that's a really good point. I agree completely.
    – Jon Seigel
    Jul 29, 2010 at 2:15

As I understand it, the system allows it if and only if a diamond moderator enter it, the reasoning being that changes where the source is common should be reviewed more carefully to the change is correct, because these are generally addressed via [retag-request]s, and if they haven't been corrected, perhaps the reasoning is that the existing tag is better than the proposed target.

Non-diamond moderators should probably file these requests on meta.

  • Do tag synonyms happen automatically if enough people upvote them? I figured a mod needed to implement them anyway, and the proposal system was just a way to finally get that stuff off meta. If proposals are added automatically when they have enough upvotes, I'd rather that the proposals that need extra review just not have that capability and require mod intervention, as opposed to not using the proposal interface at all and resorting to a meta post Jul 22, 2010 at 17:05
  • @Michael: Yes.
    – Jon Seigel
    Jul 23, 2010 at 22:03

I have a couple suggestions for a better (?) system.

Possibly better rules:

  • You could propose a synonym if the "better" tag had at least some % of the "not so great" tag.
  • You can propose any tag as a synonym, and people vote on which of the group they think is the best tag.

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