I've noticed there's about 1000 questions on Stack Overflow with the tag . This is (in my opinion) a pretty useless tag, as it's kind of used for everything. I've seen it on all sorts of things:

  • Tagging friends
  • Miscellaneous markup language (XML, HTML, etc.) tags
  • Image tags
  • DICOM tags
  • MySQL Tag Tables
  • Various other software's "tag" systems (WordPress, Stack Overflow, etc.)

The word "tag" and ultimately the word "tags" is so generic that it as a tag itself seems completely useless. Understandably it IS useful here on Meta Stack Overflow, as there are discussions about the Tagging system implemented on the Stack Overflow sites. Is there any way to mass remove it and block it from being recreated? I realize that ultimately the tags and even the posts are owned and maintained by the community at large, but... this one just doesn't seem that it should exist without at least a prefix ("friend-tags", "XML-tags", "image-tags", etc.).

Thoughts? Ideas?

  • 18
    Yo dawg, I heard u like tags, so I put tags in ur tags so u can tag while u tag. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 8 '10 at 20:11
  • 2
    I also find it majorly ironic that you did not tag this question with tags. (Ambiguity in the previous statement is in no way intended.) – BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 8 '10 at 20:16
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    @BoltClock - The retag of tagging tags to the tags of this question was probably my most enjoyable retagging experience to date ;) – Peter Ajtai Sep 8 '10 at 20:17
  • Yeah, in tagging this question, I intentionally left the tag tags out of the tags. – Nathan Wheeler Sep 8 '10 at 20:20
  • @md5sum - Why would you not include tags in your tags when it is about tags in general and tags specifically? – Peter Ajtai Sep 8 '10 at 20:22
  • I figured that after complaining about the use of the word "tags" as a tag, I'd lose either way... – Nathan Wheeler Sep 8 '10 at 20:31
  • Well, you said it yourself that that tag is useful here, so why not? :) – BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 8 '10 at 20:59

The tag "tags" (or "tagging" or similar) seems a reasonable tag to add if your question is about how to implement a database design / UI for users to tag content.

It maybe used incorrectly sometimes, but I don't think that the tag itself is useless.

  • 1
    I dunno, that's why I'm putting it on here instead of going on a half-assed retagging crusade. It would be nice if it could serve some purpose I suppose, but no matter what purpose it was assigned it has an incredibly high potential for misuse. – Nathan Wheeler Sep 8 '10 at 20:41

To me this depends on whether you feel the tag defines the context of a question on its own. In some situations I think it is inevitable that a tag will have different meanings depending on the context it is used.

Just changing the tag to be more specific isn't going to help because when someone is in a context, they don't necessarily realise that they need to be aware of other contexts. So to them, at that moment, tag means image-tag not XML-tag and even if they knew it could be mixed up with XML-tag, they may not know that image-tag is the more specific version they want.

To that end, a tag cannot be enough in all circumstances to give a question its entire context or in fact, to give the tag itself its entire context. Instead it is the group of tags collectively and the question content that give the overall context.

  • not sure I agree with this. See point #1 in the middle here blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/08/the-death-of-meta-tags that said, the [tags] tag could work if you're asking about how to implement a tagging system. It's just ambiguous because it's such a general term. – Jeff Atwood Sep 8 '10 at 22:59
  • @Jeff: I guess I can see both arguments. The ability to alias tags addresses a lot of the context issues but in the end, the English language gets in the way by using the same words for many meanings. I'm not sure there's a nice solution to this problem of tags that mean a lot to many different things. If you start creating more specific tags, you get into the problem of people not knowing the taxonomy well enough to tag things effectively. – Jeff Yates Sep 9 '10 at 2:03
  • the word Jeff comes to mind – SamB Nov 27 '10 at 4:03

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