On SF I created a synonym (named thisisatestpleasedeclines ) of the tag network but network is already a synonym of networking

I guess this should not be allowed, on the network tag page I think it should say that this tag has already a master.

Is this the intended behaviour? It's a bit confusing.

  • Good catch. Any kind of chaining is ridiculous.
    – TheLQ
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 17:06
  • Note that chains can also come into existing the opposite way around. On SO there is a synonym [thread] -> [threads] in place, and now there is a new proposed synonym [threads] -> [multithreading]. What would happen to [thread] tags if this is established? To make matters worse, you can also build synonym circles...
    – sth
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 17:29
  • I don't think you can build circles, I tried and this was not working but I'm only ~6k on SF, may be with > 10k (as you) you can ?
    – radius
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 21:28
  • @radius: If the tags have the same number of posts, it is possible (I just tried it and was able to suggest a [programming-related] <-> [non-programming-related] cycle here on meta).
    – sth
    Commented Aug 2, 2010 at 17:30
  • Another example on SO: ms-word is a synonym for microsoft-word, but microsoft-word is a synonym for msword.
    – skaffman
    Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 16:42
  • 1
    chaining is trouble ... I should improve the error messages
    – waffles
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 23:11

3 Answers 3


Very confusing indeed.

I just amended the tag synonym system so it disallows chains. chains can no longer be proposed, if you propose a chain pointing at foo this error will show up:

A synonym from foo to bar exists, chains are not allowed


This should definitely be disallowed.

However, if questions involved in a tag synonym are automatically retagged, the restriction of not allowing more popular tags to be made synonyms of less popular tags should take care of the bulk of this validation (because the target would always have 0 questions).

It still could be exploited, although it's probably just easier to implement a check, if for nothing else but sanity.


And chaining evidently does not propagate through the system. At the sandbox, I added the tag [always-hydrogen-in-iceland], which got converted to [always-friday-in-iceland]. However, [always-friday-in-iceland] is itself a synonym for [fun], but as you can see from the revision summary, the change didn't go through.

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