The following tags all mean fundamentally the same thing:

  • [food-preservation]
  • [storage-lifetime]
  • [storage-method]

The most popular is [storage-method], but it's also the least general. I'd like to see these merged into a totally new tag that's less ambiguous - probably [food-storage].

I actually like the already-existing [food-preservation], but I think it's too non-intuitive for new users. They're much more like to start typing the word storage and then look at the autocomplete. I also considered having just storage, but figured there might be questions on equipment storage or other "storage" issues.

Agree/disagree? Any of the mods willing to tackle this one?

3 Answers 3


I agree that [storage-lifetime] and [storage-method] should be merged. Fortunately, the auto-complete would prompt them with the new [food-storage].

However, what's to stop someone from creating another preservation tag when the auto-complete doesn't give one?

Is there a way to have the auto-complete prompt with [food-storage] when someone starts typing the word "preservation"?

And yes, if we reach a consensus on how to handle this, I'd be glad to take care of the merging.

  • After retagging, we should add all of the originals as tag synonyms. I'd do it myself, but we aren't allowed to propose synonyms if the master tag would have fewer questions than the synonym, so the retag would have to be done first. Either that, or we stick with [storage-method], but I think we'd be better off with something more general.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 22:56
  • I can take care of the retag tomorrow am if someone else doesn't get to it first Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 2:16
  • Storage-lifetime questions seem like a useful sub-category of food-storage, since it's specifically geared at how long something will stay fresh (as opposed to how to get it that way). It's the kind of question that leads to stilltasty.com. I'm not sure that level of specificity wouldn't be useful going forward, once there are hundreds of questions about food storage, only a fraction of which will be about spoilage.
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 4:17
  • @Ocaasi, I'm inclined to agree that lifetime questions are big enough to warrant it's own tag. Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 13:31
  • Actually, @Ocaasi, how often are you talking about how long something will last without talking about how to best store it? It might not be a useful distinction. Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 13:38
  • That's exactly my thought @Mike. [storage-lifetime] could be interpreted as "how long will this last?", but it could also mean "how to make this last longer?". Likewise, [storage-method] could either mean "how do I store this?" or "how long will this last if I store it that way?". There's too much overlap, better to lump it all under [storage] IMO, unless we're seeing thousands upon thousands of questions about it.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 14:01
  • @ Aaronut. We seem to have a basic divide about specificity. You like broader and fewer tags, consolidating now. I like more-specific, and more tags, consolidating along the way with more data. The initial motivation is probably the same: we're going to have a lot of questions, so it's important to get this right. We take that in different directions. You fear a mess of tags, I think the worse fate would be having too many entries in each category because we tossed more specific ones early on.
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 18:09
  • ...You say, "unless we're seeing thousands upon thousands of questions", as if that's impossible. The site has almost 1000 after a few weeks in beta. No one even knows about the site yet. In a few years, there could be thousands of food storage questions, and some of them 'will' be about spoilage specifically, whereas others will be more generic. I think having two related tag categories with differing levels of specificity/focus is going to be useful.
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 18:11
  • @Mike If you're talking about lifetime, you're talking about storage, of course. Just like if you're talking about lifetime, you're also talking about ingredients. But the goal is not to just have the broadest categories, otherwise we could just have [food&cooking] and be done with it. The issue is that a subset of food-storage questions are explicitly about lifetime. The relevant questions are 1) will all storage questions be about lifetime, in which case the tags should be consolidated and 2) will there be enough lifetime questions to have a separate tag. I think, no and yes.
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 20:27

I'd think the following might be a bit more intuitive:

Considering people aren't prepending "food" to their tags (and rightfully so... You don't see people prepending "programming" in SO), I think we should keep "food" out of the merged tags. If we're worried about equipment storage being mixed in, we should call that "equipment-storage", but I'm not sure we'll even have to worry about that... equipment "storage" doesn't seem to be a big topic.

Also, I agree that storage-method is strongly coupled with lifetime. It's very rare that you talk about one without the other... So here is my proposed merge... almost exactly the same as aaronut:

  1. Merge and make synonyms of [food-preservation], [storage-method], and [storage-lifetime] into [storage].
  2. Scan for equipment storage questions and retag those as [equipment-storage].
  • I'm fine with that angle too. We do have other "food" tags like [food-safety] and [food-selection] which are probably also redundant, but we can deal with those later, and I think many were introduced by a recent (cough) retagging splurge.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 13:58
  • agree that the food prefix is dangerous. once you get several of them, the auto-suggest feature might not be able to make distinct suggestions
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 18:13

They are not synonyms. They're related terms, and should not be merged.

  • food-storage : might pertain to trying to store things in the fridge for a few days.
  • food-preservation : would always be longer-term.
  • storage-lifetime : might be questions about how long they can expect to store things, and might be in regards to either short-term or longer term storage (but would not be about how to do canning or similar)
  • Storage can be either short-term or long-term. If "preservation" implies longer term, then it hasn't been used correctly in about 50% of cases. I don't think the distinction is useful or intuitive, and as for lifetime being a different category, please see my last comment to JustRightMenus' response: Tags are supposed to identify a general area of expertise, not tell us exactly how the question is going to be worded. A question about storage/preservation always implies lifetime, and vice versa.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 17:19
  • Now if it's a question about making preserves - i.e. canning - then that's another story. But I think [canning] should suffice for that, and people have already been using it.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 17:19
  • Sorry, just one more example I thought of: I distinctly remember a question about storing fresh herbs, where one of the (highly-voted) answers said to dry them. So a question specifically about short-term "storage" elicited answers about "preservation." The two subjects may be subtly different, but they are extremely hard to disentangle or even disambiguate IMO.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 17:27
  • @Aaronut: "Tags are supposed to identify a general area of expertise" That's not their only function, although it is one of them. Tags categorize information by type, depth, subject, category, and particular interest/concern. They are for readers, too, who want to know where their interests will be discussed. Preservation is different than storage--it suggests curing, drying, pickling, etc. And storage-lifetime questions may be a subcategory of [storage-method], but specific is better when it comes to tags.
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 18:22
  • "...not tell us exactly how the question is going to be worded." If I'm a reader looking for a question that suits my interest, a descriptive tag which indicates what the question will be about is exactly what I'm looking for. Why wouldn't a tag correspond to the wording of the question?
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 18:25
  • @Ocaasi: I'm sorry, when did you become an authority on the purpose of the tagging system? I don't know how better to put this: You're wrong. That is not what tags are for. You've already read the original FAQ so what is confusing here? Tags are ways for people to highlight or subscribe to questions they want to read/answer. They're not there to summarize the kind of question being asked.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 18:39
  • 1
    And to respond to your second point @Ocaasi: That's what the title of the question is for. Tags are a way of filtering questions, to decide if it should even appear or be highlighted on your screen. That's why they it doesn't make sense to treat tags as keywords and try to tailor them to the individual question; they only work at all when used consistently and for their intended purpose.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 18:56
  • @ Aaronut 1) I did read the original FAQ and I think it's generally good advice, but that it either misses the benefit of specific tags or just implicitly supports their use in addition to broader tags. 2) If being wrong means identifying an overlooked benefit from previous policy, so be it. I'm basically arguing that we rethink or at least clarify the policy, since this is a new site with a broader and more popular scope, as well as a new community. 3) Titles are specific but not all inclusive. Tags fill in gaps as well as serve a separate organizational purpose. Both are good.
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 20:34
  • @Ocaasi, although this site has a broader scope, it still uses the SE software, which is custom built for the appropriate use of tags as Aaronut has described. I think there is merit to both arguments, however I can tell you that from my own usage of SO, I use tags for their implied purpose of highlighting things I'm interested in. Commented Aug 1, 2010 at 23:15

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