Raystafarian recently posted a number of tag cleanup requests:

We batted around a few ideas on the time management question and I went off to look at the tagged questions more closely. It turns out this is the tip of an iceberg, and we may want to look at the bigger picture. There is actually a Gordian Knot of inter-related tags that are used extensively to mean multiple, overlapping things.

I had to stop collecting tags and regroup when I hit about a hundred overlapping tags. The tagged questions can be grouped like this:


A substantial portion of the tags are used in multiple cells of this matrix, across any and all boundaries.

In the discussion in the comments about [time-management] and [time-tracking], there was a thought to combine the two tags, but separate the questions between meat and silicon, calling the meat group [productivity]. This would fall into the Meat Enhancement cell of the above matrix. Let's call that Human Productivity. It turns out that the topic encompasses at least the following topics and tags:

Human Productivity

Time management and tracking would fall under the last topic, "Accomplishing Things". Roughly 50 of the tags are included here. A crude attempt to provide some organization:


Some of my category assignments are a bit artificial. In reality, many of the tags in different boxes have been used interchangeably.

These tags are used in virtually every possible combination of up to 5 tags, sometimes additively to provide a more precise description, but often just to include more tags meaning the same thing.

There are roughly 75 tags covered in this post, and almost all of them could use cleanup. The problems include:

  • Numerous disparate uses. Many have no wiki excerpt but even when they do, the guidance is often ignored.

  • Incorrect/irrelevant tag usage

  • Redundant tagging

  • Meta and meaningless tags that don't add value.

  • Tags that are irrelevant to the site even if the question is on-topic

  • Excessive granularity. Many of these tags may originally have been nuanced, but that has since been lost (or were originally created not realizing an almost identical tag already existed).

    There are a lot of candidates that can be synonomized or outright deleted. I question whether every single calendar, notes, or to-do applet needs its own tag. Is every version of MS Project and Outlook unique enough to warrant a separate tag?

    A number of these tags have zero followers and often a limited number of questions, which speak to its value as a tag.

Perhaps we can use answers here to suggest specific strategies to chip away at this.

  • I see task-scheduler and windows-task-scheduler mentioned in your question but none of the answers address these apparent dup tags. A question specifically about synonymizing them was asked a long time ago. Any idea where we stand on these two tags (I don't want to open another question to have it share the same dead-end fate the other did by getting marked a dup of this Q.) Commented May 25, 2018 at 21:22
  • @TwistyImpersonator, I can't find any evidence that we addressed that one. The wiki excerpts make clear that they refer to the same thing. I just went through [task-scheduler] and cleaned it up so it's ready, and left a message on Ask a SU Mod chat requesting that a mod synonomize it. The old question already got 10 upvotes, so no sense starting again.
    – fixer1234
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 5:58
  • I'm good with that. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help. Commented May 26, 2018 at 19:44
  • @TwistyImpersonator, I raised the issue on Ask a Mod and didn't even get a response. To me, this is an obvious, clear-cut synonym. It isn't clear why it didn't happen 5 yrs ago, or why it's not happening now. Maybe it's worth a new Meta post.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 22:49
  • I will add my voice by making a new post...When I get off mobile. Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 23:30

8 Answers 8


(Feel free to add to this list)

Consolidate similar tags:

Tags In This Group With Cleanup Completed

Remove tags or retag on human-related questions in cases where the tag is defined as applying to silicon (or is logically and predominantly used that way):

  • is a mess and needs cleaning up, but the few human-related questions I spotted could be re-tagged .

  • is a free-for-all, with almost as many uses as questions. It looks like the human-related questions can be re-tagged with other existing tags. The silicon-based questions would still need cleanup.

  • The silicon-based questions would still need cleanup.

  • The silicon-based questions would still need cleanup.

  • This has over 2,800 questions, but just a browse indicates that these are predominantly silicon-based.

Tags In This Group With Human-Related Cleanup Completed

  • Time could then be split into date-time or timing Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 11:55
  • What's "silicon"?
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 4:00
  • 2
    @bgmCoder: The "system" includes hardware, software, and wetware. "Wetware" is the user, also sometimes referred to as "human", "meat", "bags of mostly water", and other endearing terms. The human occupies space between the keyboard and the chair. The rest of the system is referred to as "silicon" to differentiate it. Wetware is enclosed in human skin. Silicon is generally enclosed in metal or plastic. Most of the questions on SU are caused by, or reflect lack of knowledge by, the human. However, the human/silicon distinction refers to the subject matter of the question.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 15:58
  • 1
    That's a rather cynical approach to terminology isn't it? hahaa
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 16:14
  • 2
    @bgmCoder The "wetware" terminology is at least ~30 years old.
    – shoover
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 16:36
  • 1
    @bgmCoder: "bags of mostly water" is a Star Trek reference
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 16:56
  • Ah, okay, I get it now. I've been a Star Wars fan since I could talk (and I could talk before the original movies came out).
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 17:06
  • Tracking needs some attention Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 14:38

I thought about: What is driving these users to create these tags in the first place? Is it too easy to make tags? How can we make it harder?

Creating tags is relatively low on Super User: privileges: only 300 needed. In contrast, Stack Overflow privileges requires 1500 to create tags. So on Stack Overflow, creating tags is after the "established user" at 1000. It is also after "access review queues" (at 500), which might help people get a sense of how much maintenance labor there is.

On the Create Tags help, I see, "on some sites, new tags will be automatically culled and removed from the system if they are not used by at least one other question in a six-month period." Is the currently enforced number one, or zero, on Super User? Regardless, would we be better off making that "three other questions", to reduce the amount of labor that gets expended with trying to do maintenance on all these tags?

  • 1
    Is there also a way to have the user's keyboard give them a mild electrical shock when they create bad tags, or don't follow the guidance in the wiki excerpt? I'll upvote any answer that has a solution to that. :-)
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 19:48
  • 1
    If you believe in this source of knowledge which is always true and accurate (television), such capability (shown in video on YouTube) ought to exist in the 2370s.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 20:07
  • Absolutely! Seriously, though, this answer should be a separate question on Meta, and get serious consideration on its own. I'm all for it, but there's no way to act on it buried here as an answer.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 20:12
  • 1
    Problem exists between computer and chair Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 11:56
  • I'd agree with the create tags privilege being after access review queues. Not certain about the best rep level for each though Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 3:05

Redundant Tagging

Many of these tags are hard to clean up because the questions contain rampant redundant tagging. It's hard to see the "legitimate" usage to determine the best solution. This includes:

  • collection of version-specific tags on version-agnostic questions

  • version-agnostic tag on version-specific questions

  • generic tag in addition to product tag when the question is about the specific product

  • use of individual word tags when the OP didn't realize that a dedicated tag exists, like using plus instead of

  • multiple related tags for the same thing when they don't refine specificity and aren't likely to attract different answerers. In cases like including both and , this is clear cut.

    In cases where you could envision an argument being made that there are nuanced differences, this could at least be applied to cases where the OP would not see such tag edits as detrimental, like:

    • old questions that are already well answered
    • old questions and closed questions that aren't answerable as-is
    • old questions where the OP has not returned

Suggestion: Clean up the redundant tags as a first step. Then look at what's left to determine the best way to proceed.


Audit is no more

What is ? I went to go create the tag information, but I couldn't figure out what it is.

Is it audit-log? If so, for what OS? Server or local?

The linux-auditing system?

A policy audit?

A ?

A or even ?

  • When a tag gets used for a wide variety of things, it means the term is too ambiguous. Even if we clean it up and write a wiki, it will get misused again and need repeat cleanup later. We're better off creating more specific tags (where they don't already exist), to cover the different uses. Retag everything appropriately and then let [audit] disappear in a puff of smoke. We're in the same boat with a lot of these--[scheduling], [time], [tracking], [recording], [logging], [tasklist], etc.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 19:20
  • I did about half of the audit tags - didn't want to flood the activity. I did create auditd but it seems everything else can fall into security event log or logging Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 11:03

Delete tags that are irrelevant to the site or are meta tags (or otherwise add no value) (feel free to add to this list):

  • Cleaned out noise and decoration. Workflow is an element of Automator and Sharepoint. 7 Q's remain. Need input from subject matter experts

These and a few other tags are posted for public comment in Should we preserve these tags?. Please visit that question and vote and/or comment on the tags to provide guidance on their disposition.

Tags In This Group With Cleanup Completed

  • This had just four questions, each about something totally different, so while the tag sounded good, it served no purpose as a tag. I just went ahead and cleaned this one up.
  • Off-topic meta tag with four disparate questions; cleaned up
  • Meta tag with two questions; cleaned up
  • Most of these turned out to be just decoration or poor tag selection. Retagged and cleaned up.
  • Meta tag that could potentially have usage worth discussing. However, it had a small number of questions; the tag was incidental on most of them and not critical on a few disparate remainders.
  • The ones that weren't decoration were poor tag choices. Cleaned up.
  • Is unchanged; turned out to be an OSX app.
  • Cleaned up.
  • had no wiki and contained a lot of misuse. Retagged, mostly to .
  • Retagged, mostly with and .
  • undefined, ambiguous tag with two disparate questions
  • I left off [collaboration]. Just seems like a specific function that could be relevant in a tag.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 17:58
  • 1
    workflow might have to do with Sharepoint in some cases.
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 4:00

All the tags about specific tools and versions of tools are fine. It's entirely possible for people to be experts in a specific program. If those tags are being misused, we should remove them only where they're not related, and write tag wikis when necessary.

Some tags have been used to mean both a program/feature and a real-life thing, like , which sometimes indicates a question about the audit/logging features in Windows and sometimes decorates questions about supervision. Tags like that could be split (maybe into something like ). In general, is pointless, but I suspect it has questions that should be tagged with or .

Meaningless tags like should just be torched. It covers so many completely different things. Questions about collaboration in a certain program should just be tagged with that program and/or the OS. Some tags, like , have the same problem, and some in this category (like ) are product recommendation requests.

Perhaps a community wiki post would be appropriate to sort these tags into the above three categories.

  • "It's entirely possible for people to be experts in a specific program." - Beyond finding "experts" in a specific program, version specific tags help avoid confusion when something is possible in Version B of a program but not possible in Version A. For instance the initial release version of Windows 10 could not be installed by a previous eligible Windows license key, but Version 1511 can be installed, likewise having separate Windows 10 tags is helpful. I attempted to raise that specific concern, but failed to get traction, so I just dropped it
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 16:46
  • I agree at a macro level, not sure about some specific cases. Re: tools--for some ubiquitous tools, having a tag for a few questions about a specific app may attract fewer knowledgable answerers than a popular generic tag. Re: versions--when there are version-specific issues, yes. Some versions, have little that differentiates answers; the tag is added for completeness and ends up being added to a string of version tags on version-agnostic questions. Re: torching time management--this all started with a suggestion to aggregate some questions under a generic tag like that. Alternative?
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 17:17
  • @fixer1234 Both an OS tag and a program tag would be appropriate for questions about programs that come with the OS. About [time-management]: if it shouldn't be destroyed, it should be limited in scope - currently, it's used for clocks in addition to actual time management. [security] is also a very broad subject, but I think it's an OK tag. I put in a better example.
    – Ben N
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 17:20

Disambiguate tags

(Feel free to add to this list)

Many tags are ambiguous terms that end up getting varied uses. A wiki excerpt helps, but the best solution is to use dedicated, unambiguous terms for each use. Examples needing cleanup:

Tags In This Group With Cleanup Completed

  • retagged the two disparate questions

  • (See Raystafarian's post here)

  • I see you created [cell-format] - where did that come from? Was there too much non-erasing format-tagged questions? What other formats were created? Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 14:21
  • @Raystafarian: I started chipping away at [format]. There were a bunch of spreadsheet cell format questions that I peeled off to a new tag. Cell format gets into data type and other issues, so it's different from text formatting and page layout, and a common theme in spreadsheet questions. I've been sidetracked for the last few weeks, so I didn't get very far with it.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 16:22
  • Hm, yeah I clicked the tag info and read the description and thought to myself "this is excessive" - but then I saw the creator and thought I'd just ask. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 16:24

Many of these tags deal with topics that belong in https://productivity.stackexchange.com/.

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