Apologies to those who answered already, but I think the first version of my question wasn't all that clear and I've refined it...

Currently, the [beginner] tag on SO has been vanquished (along with its meta-kin [subjective] and [best-practices]). However, some copycats have begun springing up to take their places.

Since there is still a tag info page for [beginner], as is apparently the case for all non-existent tags, I though that I could edit the tag wiki to say that it had been outlawed and add tags like [newbie] as a synonym...

Wrong! A tag wiki can't be made for such tags, since you need 100 answer upvotes in that tag to edit it and, obviously, no questions with that tag exist. The tag synonym options are still there, but when I tried to add [newbie] as a synonym I got this:

alt text

It looks like it is angry at me because [newbie] wasn't used anywhere, but I don't think it would let me add anything anyway because [beginner] wasn't used anywhere either.

And now to my main question:

  • For some of these forbidden tags, should we still have an info page with an active tag wiki and tag synonyms?

I imagine if the more egregious offenders (like [beginner]) were placed on a blacklist (if not already there), then the tag info page could have a tag wiki that explains why it has been blacklisted and the tag synonyms could extend the blacklisting to other tags (like [newbie]), thus helping to keep them from appearing again and requiring more tag clean-up.

And a couple broader questions:

  • Should unused tags just have no info page altogether, since you can't add to the tag wiki or tag synonyms anyway?

  • Should we allow adding tags as synonyms even if those suggested synonyms aren't used yet (preemptive synonymization)?

  • 2
    Can't add any synonyms for this one either.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 16:28
  • have you revisited this since the February rule change? Tag wiki editing privileges don't rely on tag participation anymore. Any >20k user -- oh, look, you're a >20k user on SO -- should be able to do it. I wonder if that error message would still pop up if you tried to edit it today.
    – Pops
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 19:58

3 Answers 3


Should unused tags still have an info page/tag synonyms?

I'd vote yes. Furthermore such unused tags should note that they once were used but were purged for whatever reason.

  • 1
    Which means that either the team must write the wiki or someone has to be granted edit powers. Moderators? Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 18:09
  • 1
    @dmckee: In the case of purged tags, the reason could be a required field that gets added to the wiki automatically. Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 7:35

There are no questions tagged with [newbie], so you won't be able to suggest it as a synonym.

But even if there were, you wouldn't be able to suggest it as a synonym for beginner, because beginner will always have fewer questions tagged than any valid synonym!

So, nothing to worry about.

  • That's actually not true; yesterday I removed both instances of the [best-practises] tag and tried to propose it as a duplicate of the [best-practices] tag, which would be valid since they both had 0 instances. The system makes a distinction between "a tag that exists and has no instances" and "a tag that's never been created/has been removed from the system entirely" Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 17:16
  • @Michael: well, no - a tag with 0 instances can't be proposed as a synonym. So this alone will keep you from ever proposing a synonym for a tag with 0 instances. There's another little wrinkle that I didn't mention, BTW: if you use a tag on a deleted question, that counts as an instance... at least for a while.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 17:52
  • @Shog9 Oh, I swore I'd done that at some point. That seems wrong -- why can't you propose a tag with 0 instances as a synonym? I could tag a random question with it, propose the synonym, and rollback the question Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 17:58
  • @Michael: originally, it did allow that. Someone complained, and the ability was removed. Ultimately, there's not a lot of justification for allowing it - if a tag isn't being used, why bother adding it as a synonym? But yes, there are easy work-arounds.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 18:06
  • @Shog9 Well, there's a difference between "a tag is never used" and "a tag isn't being used right now". If there's one or two posts using an uncommon tag I would generally retag them to the more common tag and then propose a tag synonym; I guess I'll have to remember to do those in the opposite order now so I don't lock myself out Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 18:36
  • @Shog9 prevention is the best medicine. Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 21:18

I say no for obvious reasons: the wiki wouldn't be able to be edited by anyone.

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