I came across a question tagged both and .

  • Pickles has no tag wiki / usage guidance, and 19 questions.
  • Pickling has "Preserving food by immersion in vinegar or brine" which is just a definition of the word and not usage guidance, and 91 questions.

Only 3 questions have both tags. I see no pattern like "asking about using pickles gets the pickles tag, while asking about making them gets the pickling tag." For example the question I noticed had both tags and was trying to identify a pickle served at a restaurant.

Do we need both? The only way I'm ok with both is if they get decent usage guidelines and we do a retag. If we were to keep only one, , despite having fewer uses, seems like a better choice to cover both making them and using them.

2 Answers 2


Corned beef is made using a pickling process, but I wouldn't call corned beef a pickle. If you only kept the "pickles" tag, would that apply? It seems to me that the two tags have been used interchangeably, when maybe they should have been applied with more discrimination. I would argue for keeping the two tags, and creating some guidance for applying them appropriately. Pickling is a process. Pickles are sometimes the result of a pickling process.

  • people could always using "brining", which also exists, for soaking meat in water with salt plus other stuff, and I expect would cover corned beef. In fact I just checked and two questions in the [corned-beef] tag also using [brining]; none use [pickling] Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 17:29

In general, when tags were first introduced, I was attempting to use best practices from the library community on building controlled vocabularies, and so there was an effort to standardize on plural nouns and progressive (-ing) verbs so it was easy tell when we were talking about an ingredient or finished product vs. a process.

So if you had questions about the ingredient (ingredient selection, substitution, etc.), you should use 'pickles'.

If you have questions about making pickles, you should using 'pickling'.

It's also worth noting that in this particular case we have the strange case where people may talk about "the pickle" and it seems to vary by culture if that means "the pickled item" or "the pickling liquid". And what's considered a pickle in India may not be considered a pickle in other countries. (and I suspect that many pickle recipes can trace back to India. See Vivian Howard's Somewhere South, season 1 episode 4, "What a Pickle")


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