I'm starting to see an alarming trend of what I feel is a major misuse of the tags.
To recap what I've said in the past, tags exist for two reasons:
- To help other members determine whether or not a particular question is within their area of expertise.
- To disambiguate questions that sound similar but are actually completely different.
Examples of #1 are baking, spices, and sushi. These are all tags that an expert in baking, spices, or sushi-making, correspondingly, can search for or highlight to help find questions they can answer.
Type #2 depends on context. One example I can imagine is a question about curry; it may not be clear from the text of the question whether the author is referring to Thai curry or Indian curry; adding indian-cuisine makes this much clearer.
There's been a major uptick recently in tags that are not useful and just add noise. I want to stress that these are usually added in good faith, and I am not questioning anybody's motivation - I know that they all mean well. But this particular category of tags is one that has been historically referred to as meta-tags on MSO, and these tags cause a lot of problems.
The most egregious examples I've seen so far are ones like easy, cost, fix, remove, making-of, fail, thumb-rule, wiki, market, local, and any "localized" tags such as uk and us. Most of these are one-offs, but there are many more which are in more common use that will be listed separately as answers.
The reason these tags are a problem is that meta-tags do not describe the content of the question. They describe some other aspect of the question, like the author's skill level, or the author's motivation for asking it, or generally what "kind" of question it is (poll, how-to, etc.).
Meta-tags are actually a subset of a larger problem that I usually call dependent tags. These are tags that don't say anything by themselves - you can't tell what the question is about unless they're paired with some other tag (or several of them). These tags are a problem because people don't realize this and will often use that as the question's only tag.
I would like to formally request that any meta-tags or dependent tags be removed unless somebody can put forth a particularly compelling reason for keeping them. As per request, I'll be listing and explaining these separately as answers.
For more information and to understand why this important, please see the original MSO FAQ, How do I correctly tag my questions? I am quoting the following piece from the accepted answer:
Try not to create new tags. If you create a new tag, that tag is guaranteed not to help your question show up on any subscribed RSS feeds or interesting tag lists. Again, the look-ahead prompt can help with this. Odds are it also means you're missing an existing tag for that topic that would more-accurately categorize your question.
Don't try to summarize your question using the tags. The point of tags on Stack Overflow is to help other interested persons find your question by sorting it into clear, specific categories. This is not the same as indexing or summarizing the question. The differences are subtle, but important.