59

The tag is like something from a sci-fi horror movie. This manufacturer meta tag was cleaned out in March of this year, but people keep using it. I just fixed the third question in the last few days, alone, where the tag was re-used.

To be clear, my impression is that the problem is not people recreating it. Rather, I think the system won't remove it, which is supposed to happen 24 hours after no questions are associated with a tag. As a result, it remains in the tag list, people see it or it's suggested when they start to type, and the tag gets reused. Each time it's resurrected, the tag summary shows the 1 question and something like 22 followers, which suggests it isn't a new tag.

Is there a way to drive a stake through its heart or something?

bwDraco has suggested blacklisting the tag. That's the FedEx solution (when it absolutely, positively, has to be unusable). We should keep that option on the table. It does require jumping through some hoops. I'm hoping, though, that there are moderator tools that can be used to force deletion of the tag. If it ceases to exist, that may be enough.

Update 1/18/2019: This tag has been cleaned up several times. Since October, it has had a steady stream of new questions. There are now 42 questions tagged again with . If we don't blacklist the seriously problematic tags (i.e., this one and , see also Blacklist Google?), we're just wasting our time doing any cleanup.

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    I agree that the microsoft tag doesn't really add anything. It's too generic to be of any use. – cascer1 Sep 22 '16 at 7:11
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    @cascer1, it was part of the manufacturer meta tag cleanup (the poster child tag): meta.superuser.com/questions/8402/…. So you're in good company. :-) – fixer1234 Sep 22 '16 at 7:16
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    If a tag is unused and then removed, it can still be re-created. The only thing that prevents it from being added is if it is blacklisted (or made a synonym of another tag). – TylerH Sep 23 '16 at 15:40
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    I love the imagery of this question. Are you sure you're describing the tag "microsoft," not the company? ;) – Wildcard Sep 28 '16 at 7:30
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It may be a good idea to have the tag blacklisted.

I've reached out to Community Managers at the Tavern on the Meta as this can only be done by Stack Exchange employees.

SE developers can blacklist tags so that they cannot be used—attempting to submit a question with a blacklisted tag will fail.

Note that we need to show widespread consensus in favor of blacklisting for this to happen. I can point to "Manufacturer & Company tags are back. Again" as evidence of strong community consensus (the vote spread on that question is +45/-1 as of this writing).

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    Save us Blacklist, you're our only hope. – Warren P Oct 3 '16 at 19:38
7

TylerH mentions in a comment the idea of using a synonym. This might be a simple solution for all problematic tags. It could work like this:

  • Create an anchor question that is tagged with . If there is a limit to the number of hyphenated words, use or or .
  • This tag's wiki excerpt would be a generic warning about having selected a deprecated tag.
  • Make every problem tag, like , a synonym of it. Tags can be added as a synonym whenever one is discovered to be a problem.
  • This will prevent future recreation of the bad tags, and anyone ignoring the wiki excerpt and attempting to use a banned tag will have a glaring reminder show up in the tag list, instead.
  • This will also encourage the OP to fix their own tags instead of creating work for the community.
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    This will lead to a flow of questions tagged do-not-use-this-tag; on some of them it will be the only tag. Somebody will also have to repeatedly re-tag such questions. You expect all users to notice the tag replacement, but I doubt they will. – Nick Volynkin Sep 28 '16 at 6:36
  • I think you misinterpreted his comment. He didn't make a suggestion; he made the factual assertion: "The only thing that prevents [a tag] from being added is if it is blacklisted (or made a synonym of another tag)." He didn't suggest adding a "do-not-use" tag, which would in my opinion be a very bad idea. – Wildcard Sep 28 '16 at 7:07
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    @NickVolynkin, hmmm. How about titling the tag [do-not-bother-answering-my-question]? That would provide an incentive to fix it. :-) – fixer1234 Sep 28 '16 at 7:09
  • @Wildcard, I understood the comment, I was just exploring a possible solution based on it. Can you expand on why you think this would be a bad idea? – fixer1234 Sep 28 '16 at 7:11
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    @fixer1234 great for entertaining experienced users, but very troubling for the newcomers, to whom SE is already quite harsh )) – Nick Volynkin Sep 28 '16 at 7:14
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    I think @NickVolynkin got it exactly right in his first comment. We'll just get questions tagged do-not-use-this-tag, and they'll have to be re-tagged or deleted. Blacklisting the tag is the best solution if it is actually widespread enough to warrant it. – Wildcard Sep 28 '16 at 7:14
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    @fixer1234 btw, I proposed the same idea about a year ago, but was convinced that it was bad. )) – Nick Volynkin Sep 28 '16 at 7:22
  • @fixer1234 Doesn't work on Worldbuilding, at least. There's [hard-science] there (which is basically a meta tag to set the answer standards to the same level as many subject-specific science sites, such as Space Exploration or Physics or Biology), but even regulars and old-timers often either do not see it, or choose to ignore it. – a CVn Oct 3 '16 at 15:44
  • @MichaelKjörling, I wasn't sure what you were referring to that won't work -- using a synonym tag like this, or driving a stake through its heart because Worldbuilding is about hard science. Actually, I think the stake would work on Worldbuilding, so I'll assume you're talking about the tag. :-) – fixer1234 Oct 3 '16 at 16:46
  • @fixer1234 I was referring to people paying attention to tags and tag wikis (even tag wiki excerpts). Worldbuilding actually has a triad of related meta-tags (reality-check, science-based, hard-science) which point out in the tag wiki excerpt to not use them as the only tag on a question. Every now and then questions still show up tagged with only one of those and no other tags. Some people take the advice and will tag questions something like [science-based] [hard-science] -- technically correct as per the tag wiki! – a CVn Oct 3 '16 at 20:12

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