A previous question came up on meta about "cookies" vs. "biscuits" - one which I answered but was ultimately unsatisfied even with my own answer.

It occurred to me today (and I'm actually surprised that no one else has suggested it) that there may be a better way to resolve the ambiguity, which is to make more frequent use of the [*-cuisine] tags.

Whenever there's a tag that might be ambiguous due to different regions using the same name, make sure it's paired with a cuisine tag. That's all there is to it.

For example, since "biscuits" are not actually quite the same thing as "cookies", the recommendation under the policy would be to use either + or +. Any new question that only contained the tag would be followed up with a request for clarification (unless that information is implied elsewhere, i.e. in the question text or perhaps in the member's profile).

Just to be clear, I'm not recommending this as a reason not to standardize tags; if two possible tags mean exactly the same thing then we should still always use the more common one, i.e. we don't need both a and a [frites] tag each paired with cuisine tags, because they are the same thing - but there might still be a tag because that means something subtly different - and the regional cuisine-tagging rules would apply to that as well, because "chips" refers to something else (potato chips) in the U.S.

Hope this isn't too confusing. Just to recap:

  • Multiple tags for the exact same food = bad, don't do that, use tag synonyms instead.
  • Multiple foods with the same tag = inevitable, distinguish with an additional cuisine tag.

Any thoughts on this? Is there anything I might be overlooking, any reason why this convention wouldn't work on a long-term basis? Any general comments or questions?

  • 2
    I think secondary tags are OK as disambiguators and to narrow the meaning, so long as they are standalone. – Jeff Atwood May 18 '11 at 8:32

I think the main thing to watch out for in asserting this is the consistency of cuisine tags. In general, it's always preferable to avoid multiple concepts that fall under the same tag, but in cases like , we don't have a choice, so it makes sense to rely on a secondary tag.

For example, on Gaming we have [achievements] that kinda really depends on having either the service (Steam, Live) or game accompany it. On Gaming, it works because every such question will have the service or game to accompany it, and the accompanying tag is also consistent in its application and meaning.

How does this affect Seasoned Advice? Well, is every "biscuit" question that deals with the US kind of biscuit actually American cuisine? I can't answer this on account of not really knowing what the different kinds of biscuits are (and for all I know, what I'm calling a biscuit could actually have a different name), but I hope it's understandable the concern I'm bringing up.

I do not know if this actually is a problem here, but this is what I assert is at least one of the things you should watch out for and make sure that is not a problem.

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