This is the proposal. Please see Help us clean up tags! for the result.


Let's face it, we have tons of horrible tags.

In the past, we used Old monthly tag cleanups to keep track of what needs to be cleaned up. But I see a couple of problems with this approach lately.

  1. Random users just edit the question itself and add tags to the cleanup list without going through any proper procedure.

  2. Users keep posting answers to that question containing tags they would like to see cleaned up.

  3. It's really hard to keep track of the whole process.

What's supposed to happen is that tags are discussed in separate questions and when consensus regarding removal of the tag is reached, it gets added to the list. Lately, this process isn't happening at all. So here is my proposal:

  1. Old monthly tag cleanups gets closed, protected, locked and deleted.

  2. When someone discovers a horrible tag, they post a new question on Meta Super User about it, tagging it with in combination with .

    The request will then be discussed (or ignored) but, most importantly, voted on and after a week (give or take) a moderator will tag the question with:

  3. Any question that is tagged with and (here's a handy link to the search) can be acted upon by anyone in the community.

  4. Once a tag is cleaned up, the tag is replaced with .

  • 2
    I would much rather see a "review" type of automated, or semi-automated audit process for cleaning up bad tags, as a feature of the site. – Samir Jun 24 '14 at 9:13
  • @sammyg So would I. Don't hold your breath though ;P – Der Hochstapler Jun 24 '14 at 9:14
  • 3
    The only issue I see with this is making the cleanup requests accessible easily. Like now, the bulletin nicely links to the cleanup post. So would we need a list of planned cleanup-requests? (A Meta-Meta question with links to Meta-questions?) – slhck Jun 24 '14 at 9:28
  • 2
    Couldn't a mod just compile the list of status-planned tag removals in a monthly post that is protected/locked? That would avoid random user edits, but it would still keep the tag cleanup process easily accessible to all users. – Excellll Jun 24 '14 at 13:00
  • I kind of like @Excellll idea. That gives a central repository to do stuff, and at the same time allow separated discussion. – Braiam Jun 24 '14 at 16:05
  • If tags were supposed to be discussed in separate questions, then there was no need for a tag cleanup post then! Moderators could simply burninate the tag without need for manual cleanup! – gparyani Jun 24 '14 at 16:37
  • @damryfbfnetsi No, we can't. We have to go through every single question and remove the tag just like everyone else. Tags used to be discussed in separate questions, some users might have never realized that though and lately nobody seems to be doing it anymore. – Der Hochstapler Jun 24 '14 at 16:40
  • The advantages of having a tag cleanup post is that the community could add non-controversial tags to the post for housekeeping. Potentially controversial tags would go in a separate question. Therefore, I think we should keep the tag cleanup, but use it only for non-controversial tags that need removal for housekeeping purposes. This method seems perfect, but it assumes that all tags being removed are potentially controversial. – gparyani Jun 24 '14 at 16:41
  • @damryfbfnetsi Who decides which tags are controversial? If you have alternative suggestions (or don't want to change anything at all), please post it as an answer. Long discussions in comment threads are not useful. – Der Hochstapler Jun 24 '14 at 16:43
  • Tags with lots of questions tagged seem more controversial to me, while tags with very few questions seem more like non-controversial removals. I'll post an answer in a moment. (See the new categorization I've added to that post.) – gparyani Jun 24 '14 at 16:46
  • Does the tag need to have so horrible as in your examples or can it be something lighter? I'm asking because I wanted to propose replacing redhat with rhel where appropriate. – Cristian Ciupitu Jun 24 '14 at 18:15
  • Interesting how the community works together. But where is the place that tells the people "Let's do it!"? I already see this being used meta.superuser.com/questions/tagged/tag-cleanup-request. Where is the list of SOP? I am interested to have a look is it is public :) Thanks. – Jake Jun 25 '14 at 1:29
  • 1
    Through cleanup doesn't imply it, most of them will be about burning some or other tag, so we may as well comply with the tag naming. Also, it would help the CM team to find questions like this, that they can just act on them. – Braiam Jun 25 '14 at 18:01
  • 1
    @Braiam burninate-request was what was used on MSO. – gparyani Jun 26 '14 at 15:32
  • 1
    We could use the blog as a means for the "meta-meta" posting for the month. That way it appears on the bulletin, and is limited to those with publishing power (which is entirely made of mods and myself) to post to the site. – KronoS Jun 26 '14 at 19:37

Personally, I think that the current tag cleanup process used for a long time now seems perfect for non-controversial removals of little-used or newly-created tags that should be removed preemptively to avoid future problems. However, it was not so useful for tags with lots of questions tagged and whose removals would be very controversial. slhck and I came up with a new procedure for sorting out tags in the former category and in the latter category.

My (counter-)proposal is this, which makes big modifications to the existing tag cleanup based on ideas established in the question:

TL;DR

Tags whose removal wouldn't be debated for sure will go through as before. Tags whose removal would be debated or tags in which the one who finds the tag doesn't know what would happen would be posted as a separate question, and then if the consensus is to clean up, would be added to the tag cleanup.

Long version

What should be done now:

There are now two lists in the main answer ("uncovered in the audit") to the existing tag cleanup: one with little-used or newly-created tags whose removal would not be very controversial, and one with tags that have lots of questions tagged each whose removal would be more controversial and debated. Each tag from the latter list should be subject to the procedure currently outlined in the question for community consensus, and if the decision was to clean up, it should remain in the list, and if the decision was not to clean up, it should be removed from the list.

What should be done in the future:

If you think the removal of a tag would not be very controversial (rule of thumb: less than 200 questions tagged (though that's a ridiculously simple heuristic that may need to be changed)), it should be added directly to the answer in the first list. If you think that the removal of a tag would be potentially controversial (rule of thumb: 200 or more questions tagged) or if you're not sure, it should be posted here as a question following the procedure outlined here. Again, if it meets community consensus, it will be added to the second list, and if not, will not be added at that moment.

Other than this, the tag cleanup will work as it has always been, except that moderators should add the same number of tags from each list into the question (I think two each is a good number).

Personally, I feel like the existing procedure favored the non-controversial tags, while this new one favors the controversial tags. My idea takes ideas from both and creates a very good procedure that works for both kinds of tags.

One last question: What will we do to prevent users from adding their own favorite tags to the post? We'll say that all edits that add tags to the second list must link to the decision to clean up in the edit summary, and all edits that add tags to the first list must have less questions tagged. If the respective criteria aren't met, the edit will be rolled back.

What do you think?

  • 2
    I don't disagree, but the approach we used before (list of tags, discussion about it in some comments, promoting into the question) wasn't really efficient. So we need to keep the discussion for each tag separate, not in one comment thread. Even if they might seem trivial. If they are indeed trivial and no discussion is needed, they can be be [status-planned] right away. – slhck Jun 24 '14 at 19:43
  • @slhck That's what I said! We'll discuss in separate questions. Why did you think I was talking about comments? – gparyani Jun 25 '14 at 0:12
  • @slhck Tags whose removal wouldn't be debated for sure will go through as before. Tags whose removal would be debated or tags in which the one who finds the tag doesn't know what would happen would be posted as a separate question, and then if the consensus is to clean up, would be added to the tag cleanup. – gparyani Jun 25 '14 at 0:22

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