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First, let's look at the advice from What are tags, and how should I use them?

Avoid meta-tags
Do not use meta-tags in questions. Here are some tips to help you determine whether a tag is a meta-tag:

  • If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag. Every tag you use should be able to work, more or less, as the only tag on a question. Meta-tags, like [beginner], [subjective], and [best-practices], are not helpful by themselves – they do not communicate anything about the content of the question.
  • If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it's probably a meta-tag. For example, the meaning of the tag [subjective] is, itself, subjective; the same is true for tags like [best-practices] and [beginner]. Best practices to whom? Beginner by what criteria? Use only tags that have a broadly accepted, objective definition.

Let's, for now, focus only on the first bit of advice. If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag.

Here is a list of likely candidates:

  • - The very definition of a meta tag. Runs the whole gamut.
  • - Useless without other tags. Useless generally. Presumably about changing something in a specific web app, which should already be a tag on the question. No one is an expert on "editing" on all web apps.
  • - Can't possibly work as the only tag on a question. I see it used for (it should be ), , (which should be ), comments. This also seems to run afoul of the second point above (it means different things to different people).
  • - This can't possibly work as the only tag on a question. It needs to be paired with a web app. On the first page of questions I see , , , , , . and exist, at least.
  • - Again, this has no context without the existence of other tags.
  • - What could this possibly even mean? Most of the questions tagged are closed. The rest look like web development questions or network protocol curiosity that should also be closed.

So, how should we manage these? This is a problem and it seems to be getting worse. ("Broken windows" and all that.) Should we have a canonical "help clean up these meta-tags" question/answer, or should each individual one get its own question/answer (and arguments)?

There are also some other problematic tags that I think border on meta-tags, but will be harder to justify removing. (For instance, , based on its wiki, is for any webmail service that doesn't already have a tag. Not that it's used that way, of course.)


See also:

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  • 1
    I think it's fine to keep these tag issues in one question. People can always add additional ones below as answers which can be voted on.
    – jonsca
    Oct 2, 2014 at 3:35
  • Super User seems to go a few different ways on this (some proposals focusing on one tag or another, or a whole category of them at a time).
    – jonsca
    Oct 2, 2014 at 3:36
  • Looks to me that google is used sometimes as meta-tag. See Please don't double tag Google items
    – Rubén Mod
    May 20, 2015 at 22:34
  • @Rubén: That's covered by a separate discussion although not everyone agrees that "google" should generally be removed as a tag.
    – ale
    May 20, 2015 at 22:45
  • Super User has a similar problem.
    – ale
    May 20, 2015 at 22:47
  • @AI E Please don't double tag Google items sounds to me as a "light request" while this discussion sounds to me as a "call to action". By the other hand, I agree that google should not be generally removed as a tag just in certain cases that it's used with other tags like google-search but there is no evident reason for including both of them.
    – Rubén Mod
    May 20, 2015 at 22:55
  • Well, it's worth a separate discussion, I think, and shouldn't be glommed on to this one.
    – ale
    May 20, 2015 at 22:56
  • blog is in a similar situation than email, I think.
    – Rubén Mod
    Jul 17, 2015 at 2:40
  • Other tags to add to the list syntax, syntax-highlighting
    – Rubén Mod
    Jul 30, 2019 at 14:30
  • 1
    More tags to add to the list color, font, text-formatting
    – Rubén Mod
    Nov 23, 2019 at 22:18
  • 1
    More tags... [tag:text (34 questions)], user-interface (57 questions), subtitles (40 questions)
    – Rubén Mod
    Jan 21, 2020 at 14:54
  • Note that most of these aren't meta-tags (though they may or may not be problematic for other reasons). The guidance you quoted just suggests some methods that may help identify meta-tags, but that's not the definition of a meta-tag. The term is defined/explained slightly earlier in the blog post: "The reason meta-tags are a problem is that they do not describe the content of the question. They describe some other aspect of the question, like the author’s skill level, or the author’s motivation for asking it, or generally what “kind” of question it is (poll, how-to, etc.)."
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    Jan 26 at 17:22
  • I don't think most (if any) of the tags listed in the post describe some other aspect of the question other than something related to the content of the question. (That said, there may or may not be other problems with some of those tags, such as tags being ambiguous/unclear or overly general.)
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    Jan 26 at 18:32
  • (For reference, I came across this Meta post because, while I was editing a question's tags, I saw that the [formatting] tag existed, and then noticed that the [text-formatting] tag also existed but said "DO NOT USE THIS TAG." and had a link to this post.)
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    Jan 26 at 18:35

3 Answers 3

5

I have cleaned up the & tags. I will continue on my mission to clean up these tags.

This is a marathon not a race...

3

Semi-abusing this as an update/call-to-action, tl;dr: burninate , now, clean up a single question then also .

filter

Virtually nobody can be an expert on -ing in the abstract. Are we filtering results from to ? The process is bound to be radically different (or impossible, gee-thanks Amazon).

There are currently 70 questions tagged . None of them are only tagged filter. Counts of the most common other tag on those questions (among those tagged filter...):

tag                  count
--------------------------
google-sheets           42
twitter                  5
gmail                    4
google-search            3
spam-prevention          2
yahoo-mail               2
search                   2
google-apps              1
google-sheets-query      1
regex                    1
netflix                  1
youtube                  1
outlook.com              1
amazon                   1
firefox-extensions       1
google-reader            1
rss                      1

Maybe would be in order, but I think we can immediately remove and salt .

Workbook: https://gist.github.com/nicktimko/f535fdcc14e06983454bdaecf053e564


delete

There are currently 45 questions tagged . None of them are only tagged delete. Counts of the most common other tag on those questions:

tag                  count
--------------------------
facebook                10
gmail                   10
trello                   5
google-drive             4
account-management       3
online-storage           1
pocket                   1
google-sites             1
facebook-groups          1
youtube                  1
google-apps-script       1
retweet                  1
yahoo-mail               1
gmail-labels             1
trello-boards            1
dropbox                  1
wiki                     1
screenshot               1

Again, how you delete something (beyond "click the trash icon" as step 1) is going to vary wildly.


url

There are currently 104 questions tagged . Only one is only tagged url, and it likely doesn't belong here (it was migrated) as it's actually about URLs in the abstract, just with a Facebook URL as an example. Counts of the most common other tag on those other questions:

tag                       count
-------------------------------
youtube                      10
google-search                 9
google-sheets                 8
links                         7
facebook                      5
gmail                         5
google-plus                   5
google-drive                  4
search                        4
url-shortening                4
google-sites                  3
google-analytics              2
google-docs                   2
openstreetmap                 2
quora                         2
twitter                       2
amazon                        1
blog                          1   # probably another awful tag
blogger                       1
browser                       1
buffer                        1
evernote                      1
feeds                         1
github                        1
google-apps                   1
google-books                  1
google-calendar               1
google-chrome-extensions      1
google-fonts                  1
google-image-search           1
google-reader                 1
google-voice                  1
ical                          1
images                        1
linkedin                      1
microsoft-word                1
screenshot                    1
trello                        1
trello-cards                  1
typepad                       1
upload                        1
video                         1
website                       1
wetransfer                    1
1
0

comments

I cleaned up by removing There was 8 questions with both tags.

There is still a lot of work to do as is shown in the "related tags" (it will take some time (1 day?) for the system to update the related tags).

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