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Looking specifically at the question How do we deal with borderline questions during contest week?, and some others, it occurs to me that SA could use an official lexicon. A dictionary of cooking terms (broil, cocktail, marinade) for which the definitions are relatively clear but sometimes misused, like on Should I BBQ chicken on foil?. Once established any use of those terms can be automatically treated as a smart tag in any question, answer or comment. For some terms where the definition is somewhat different than the way it is used as a tag, both could be shown. Cocktail would be a good example, the definition of cocktail is much more narrow than its application as tag.

Of course there will be terms for which there is some dissent regarding "the" definition, BBQ for instance, but there are far more for which a short/simple definition could help clarify questions and answers.

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Do you realise that one of the three examples you give of a term "for which the [definition is] relatively clear" features in Translating cooking terms between US / UK / AU / CA / NZ as a word which requires translation for a lot of native English speakers? And the thread you link to uses a term which has different meanings in different English-speaking countries. Attempting to create an official lexicon is going to require selecting a dialect of English to favour over all others.

  • good point...since the web server is capable of detecting the users culture (from their browser) that could make the smart tags more valuable. I type "broil" those who project a different culture get a context sensitive definition.... – Cos Callis Jun 19 '12 at 14:18
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A full lexicon is not needed. The internet is full of definitions, see Cook's thesaurus or Wikipedia. A guideline about what should be included in a tag is needed, and these guidelines exist in the form of tag wikis. Normally these tag wikis function well. With the contest, people have started using tags in senses which are not covered neither by traditional use of a term nor by the tag wiki. This misuse is a problem we need to solve, but normally, the tag wikis function well.

If you want to edit a tag wiki, that's great. Please don't add definitions to them, like "carrots are an orange root vegetable" or obvious sentences like "this tag is about cooking with carrots". Duh. This is noise; if somebody is considering the tag for their question, they already know what a carrot is, and that the tag is related to carrots. The purpose of a tag wiki is to help decide whether unusual cases are covered by the tag, and to draw the borders to other tags. A contrived example would be "don't use this tag for carrot cakes, use the cake tag instead." A better example: in the tag wiki for eggs, we could write "covers different bird eggs such as chickens, ducks, etc. Doesn't cover caviar. Use also in questions about egg substitutes."

I don't know which tag you consider misused in the question you linked. If you want to say that grilling is not BBQ, you can retag the question, edit the question itself, and add the strict definition to the BBQ tag wiki, explaining the difference between BBQ and grilling. In this case, a definition is not noise, as most people seem to not know what exactly the difference is.

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I agree with Peter Taylor that an "official lexicon" would necessarily have to choose one dialect of English to be authoritative, which doesn't make sense for such a diverse international community.

The best thing to do is to clarify tag wikis as needed - including clarifying them by adding tag synonyms if applicable, or by listing in the tag wiki any alternative terminology that it might cover. For example, maybe the we have both a AND that are not synonyms. The tag is used 37 times compared to 's 18, yet has no tag wiki summary!

So if some users with 2500+ rep would like to go propose and vote up the bbq-barbecue synonyms, that would be a good place to start.

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