I'm told our emergent folksonomy means the attitude toward tags is "don't fix it if it's not broken," and I'm all for letting the garden grow wild until it needs pruning. But looking over our history, I can't really tell what constitutes "broken" for tags; what signals a need to curate? Curation, in this case, means starting a meta discussion about intervening to guide the growth of tags or prune back something undesirable. Tools for this include (but probably aren't limited to) synonymising, splitting, burninating, and blacklisting.

I asked on meta.se about this and their answer is that each Stack is independently responsible for deciding when to curate its own tags, without guidance from our Stack Overlords. Since there's some notable confusion about this topic on RPG.SE, it's been suggested that we have a meta post on this site to gain a consensus on what patterns of tag use require active curation in the context of this RPG Stack Exchange and its particular eccentricities.

So, RPG.SE: What are red flags that indicate a tag should be considered for curation? What site behaviour patterns should tell me that a meta question about the tag might be necessary?

To be very clear: I'm not asking for rules about how to curate tags. I'm asking for guidelines to help know when something on the main site means that maybe a tag should get put under the spotlight on meta.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure that in such a folksonomy there is a need for specific curation of tags. Recent experiences tell me that tag curation happens naturally through meta and/or comments, such as was the case with the [product-identification] tag and the newer [content-identification] tag. Is there a problem with the current folksonomy? Is the answer to this question simply, "when a tag is being misused or has become too generalized in its meaning it is time to curate it?" \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 13:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm asking what things I observe on main-site should tell me that I ought to take a tag to meta to be asked about. You're describing the process I'm asking for clarification on how to participate in. We do not have consensus on basic understandings about tag curation, which is making that process kinda rough. Better defining how to identify misuse or other problems should help. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 13:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm interested in this question too. That question BESW links to in the above comment turned messier than I'd have liked (and sidetracked!) because I didn't see eye to eye with SSD on how burnination works - and I assumed the community had some kind of common understanding on when to burninate that I also understood (so that was quite a reality check). Some discussion about when tag curation is appropriate here would be very helpful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can this be used as a baseline and adopted to be useful here? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW To follow up from my comment earlier, what you're asking here then is, "how do we know when a tag is being misused?" and not the corollary "when/how do we curate a tag that is being misused? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I'm just painfully oblivious today. I get what you're asking here, after reading your question and my comments again. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 21:10

2 Answers 2


I think the most important rule of thumb is:

  • When you're consistently having to remove a tag from questions, there's something wrong with the tagging system: a poorly-named tag, a bad tag "definition" that conflicts with the tag's assumed purpose, or users are reaching for another tag that isn't there and using this one in error instead.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think bad tags mean the tag system is broken, there are plenty of tags created by users who don't bother to read the FAQ or who think a tag is merely a synonym for "key-word" but as with many other errant actions by naive users the balancing done by the rest of the community counters it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 20, 2016 at 21:19

I think it is in large part intuitive.

I just submitted a tag discussion question on Meta for because I saw the tag, caught the UK spelling, and then proceeded to investigate its usage. The tag had no written up wiki, was only used on a handful of questions, and its use was merely to reiterate that they were talking about a civilization (which each question stated in the body of the question). I also confirmed that the SE standard for tag language is US-English.

That said I think some process of highlighting tags could be pushed for

Tags that do not have a tag wiki description for their use after a set period of time/questions should probably get reviewed to see if the tag is useful and if it is so that a description can be added to improve its use.

That is the only example that immediately comes to mind where a metric could be used as guideline for review, every other case I can think of falls into a more subjective category.


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