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Many tags have no definition and instead show "Help us edit this wiki". In the time since the tags were created, people have usually used them according to their own interpretation, so there may be mixed meanings or the usage may have morphed from the original intent. To create a definition at this point, what is the appropriate basis:

  • The contributing writer suggests what they think should be the meaning and then the community approves/disapproves/revises?
  • The predominant existing usage becomes the basis for the wiki?
  • The tag gets cleaned up through the normal cleanup process, during which the community decides on the intended meanings of the resulting tags, and that becomes the basis?

How do the mechanics of the process work? Someone submits a suggested wiki, it is reviewed by some number of people above a certain rep, and it is either accepted or rejected by sufficient votes in either direction?

How did we get so many undefined tags? Why isn't there a requirement that creating a new tag entails defining it?

Edit: Any input on the basis for defining a tag?

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I think the problem is you can create any tag you like at 300 rep on Super User. Now, although it does take some knowledge and understanding to get to that point, obviously people will then just decide that "Oh, my post needs a Windows Azure tag, so I'll just go along and create it". It doesn't ask for a description, which is why so many are undefined and people are fine doing it.

I think, along with you, that you should have to define the tag. People would then be less interested in filling the system with tags and we don't have to sift through them all.

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I wouldn't worry about how many undefined tags we have - instead focus on making sure that the top-used tags* (tags covering ~90% of questions) have tag wikis (and excerpts) that are meaningful and describe not only what the tag represents, but when the tag should be used as well.

Of course, if you're in the mood and feel like creating some lesser-used tag wikis, go right ahead!

* which incidentally is how the Tags page is sorted by default


To address concerns about tag misuse:

Don't get hung up on tag definitions as a 'silver bullet' way to solve the mistagging issues. Generally, people who tag incorrectly do so because they don't bother reading the tag definition.

A current example of this is the msi tag, which the tag definition clearly stated that this was for the windows-installer filetype .msi, not for the company of the same acronym who produces computer hardware. Yet a lot of its uses were for the latter. (It was cleaned and synonymised with in the end)

What we should be focusing on instead is reducing ambiguity in our tags. Ambiguous tags lead to tag misuse - even with a tag definition.

We can do this by:

  • Using full names in our tags (where possible)
    • Avoiding acronyms or shortened names.
  • Avoiding tags with multiple meanings
    • For example: Instead of tagging with , we should tag with the specific terminal-program (powershell, bash, windows-command-prompt etc)
  • Being explicit in the wording of our tags
  • Removing obvious meta-tags.
    • These are tags that are subjective, like 'beginner' (beginner according to what criteria?), and describe the person or the question, not the problem/topic at hand.
  • Lack of any definition leads to varied use of tags which leads to the need for tag cleanup. An ounce of prevention and all that. Highest priority would be the most used undefined tags where the tag is ambiguous. But either this priority or your suggestion still requires a basis for the definition. Which goes back to the question. – fixer1234 Nov 7 '14 at 2:03
  • @fixer1234 - You didn't mention that in the question, but I've edited my answer nonetheless :) – Robotnik Nov 7 '14 at 4:07
  • That's good advice for creating a new tag. My question is about ambiguous existing tags that are undefined. To create a definition for those, should it be based on how the majority of people ended up using the tag; or a guess as to what the "best" definition should be and let an approval vote decide yes/no; or do a tag cleanup, which leads to discussion of what to do with the tags and what they should mean, and then define the tags that fall out based on the discussion (see the bullets in the question)? – fixer1234 Nov 7 '14 at 4:40
  • For example, there is a popular undefined tag [editor]. Just skimming the first page of questions, the majority are off-topic but not closed (requesting software recommendation). Others include how to edit, how to access specific features of specific editors, the status of an editor that hasn't been seen for awhile, etc. What should the created definition be based on? – fixer1234 Nov 7 '14 at 4:52
  • @fixer1234 - I'm saying tags like that shouldn't even exist, and should be removed if they do. If people are having problems with a specific editor they should tag with that specific editor. How to edit should be tagged with the platform, (as the answer will differ from platform to platform), and with other tags as appropriate (file permissions, editing read-only files, editing specific file types like PDF etc). I'm not sure that 'status of editor 'x' is on topic, but if it is, it should be tagged with the specific editor tag as well – Robotnik Nov 7 '14 at 5:23
  • That's the answer I was looking for. Thanks. Since [editor] is a mess, I went ahead and posted a tag cleanup request. Your comment above should be copied and pasted to that. – fixer1234 Nov 7 '14 at 5:51
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The question was what to use as the basis for creating a definition for an ambiguous, undefined, existing tag. There is a lot of good discussion in the answers and comments, but the actual answer to the question is buried in a comment from Robotnik. I'll move it here as an answer. Long story short: you don't create a definition for an ambiguous tag, you eliminate the tag and use unambiguous ones.

Robotnik's answer, excerpted below, was in response to the tag posed as an example in the comments.

"...tags like that shouldn't even exist, and should be removed if they do. If people are having problems with a specific editor they should tag with that specific editor. How to edit should be tagged with the platform (as the answer will differ from platform to platform), and with other tags as appropriate (file permissions, editing read-only files, editing specific file types like PDF etc.) ..."

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