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I think our site could greatly benefit from improved instruction on how to tag.

There's been a lot of discussion here on meta about changes needed to the tags, what the purpose should be, etc. I understand that this has been discussed & settled on Stack Overflow, but I'd wager that most new users on Cooking.Stackexchange are not coming from the SO background. Most of the tagging errors are caused by a lack of understanding of tags' purpose.

When one asks a new question, the existing instruction is:

How to Tag

A tag is a keyword or label that categorizes your question with other, similar questions.
► favor existing popular tags; avoid creating new tags
► use common abbreviations
► don't include synonyms
► combine multiple words into single-words with dashes
► maximum of 5 tags, 24 chars per tag
► tag characters: [a-z 0-9 + # - .]
► delimit tags by space, semicolon, or comma

I propose the section instead read:
(revised 8/2/10)

Tags help experts decide whether or not they might be able to help you. You'll get better answers if you choose tags that each describe a single area of expertise.
► Try not to create new tags!
► Examples of tags to use: Type of cuisine (italian-cuisine), name of technique (baking, deep-frying), food or ingredient (apples, pie), or type of food or ingredient (vegetables, spices)
► Examples of tags not to use: Type of question (how-to, explanation, fix), subjective terms (traditional, easy), descriptions of your problem (burnt, curdled), noise words (emergency, urgent), or any term that describes a very vague or broad area (cooking, method, technique)

The Mechanics of Tagging
► Join multiple words with dashes (ex. Chinese-cuisine, not Chinese cuisine)
► Max of 5 tags, 24 chars per tag (a-z, 0-9, + # - .)
► Separate tags by space, semicolon, or comma

Lastly, if you are tagging a new question, there's a handy link on the right to see a list of popular tags. But if you click on that link, you lose the question you were working on. Is it possible to have the list show up in the sidebar w/o having to navigate away from the page you're on? Or is the only option to open that link in a new window?

Relevant link - 8/1/2010 SO blog post: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/08/tag-folksonomy-and-tag-synonyms/

  • I love this suggestion, but I think this is hard coded at the moment and you do not have the ability to change it from the moderator tools. In cases like this it probably makes sense to raise it on meta.stackoverflow.com as you can not achieve it with the tools you have. – Sam Saffron Aug 2 '10 at 2:47
  • Sure - I figured if we can come up with a change we'd like to see, we (I) can then propose it to those who can actually make the change come about. – JustRightMenus Aug 3 '10 at 0:31
4

Looks pretty good to me. For the purpose statement, I'd probably go with something like:

Tags help experts decide whether or not they might be able to help you. You'll get better answers if you choose tags that each describe a single area of expertise.

A short list of examples probably wouldn't hurt either:

Examples of tags you should use are: Type of cuisine (italian-cuisine), name of technique (baking, deep-frying), food or ingredient (apples, pie), or type of food or ingredient (vegetables, spices).

Examples of tags you should not use are: Type of question (how-to, explanation, fix), subjective terms (traditional, easy), descriptions of your problem (burnt, curdled), noise words (emergency, urgent), or any term that describes a very vague or broad area (cooking, method, technique).

  • Tags are an area I find a bit challenging as a non-techie, new user. There are just so many! I try to chose the primary and a secondary to focus any searches better. Still, I am not sure I am choosing correctly. I don't come here from SO, so I and maybe many others, don't know the protocol. Therefore, I voted +1. Thanks – kiamlaluno Jul 31 '10 at 23:05
  • ie. +1 for better instructions on tagging. – kiamlaluno Jul 31 '10 at 23:08
1

I would drop the "meta" aspect of the description. I'm not sure that the average person would understand what that means. It feels like a very techy / software concept. I'd maybe rephrase using the word "broad" or something similar.

  • I agree. Meta tags are really just a subset of noise tags. Specific examples are more helpful, as I've tried to indicate in my answer. – Aaronut Aug 2 '10 at 19:15
-2

Tags help users search for information and find questions within their expertise. They also group indirectly related questions for further reading or interest.

Do:

  • Make your tags specific, [knife-skills] is better than [skills]
  • Keep tags to one word using a hyphen for precision, [barbecue-sauce] [food-storage]
  • Use up to 5 tags, [apple-pie] [baking] [pie-crust] [cooking-time] [lard]

Don't:

  • Don't make new tags if old tags cover the same topic
  • Don't use two tags that only differ slightly, [egg][eggs], [sushi][raw-fish] (pick one)
  • Try not to make tags opinionated, [delicious], [hard], [best]
  • Try not to make tags too general, [recipe], [technique], [dinner]

Separate tags with spaces, commas, or semi-colons. The drop-down menu will suggest tags, use them. Happy tagging...!

  • Emphatically disagree with "...also group indirectly related questions for further reading or interest." That's exactly what tags aren't for, it tends to encourage more noise in the tag system. – Aaronut Aug 1 '10 at 14:03
  • Not every addition of sound is noise. People sometimes search horizontally as well as vertically. This is not always something "experts" do, since they tend to specialize, but it is very much something readers and "generalists" do. Again, you might not think [cost] or [budget] is useful, but someone might care to peruse an entire category of issues that all share the concern about money. The same with [recipe-problems]. Other tags are just overbroad, [dinner] [technique] [ingredients], and these are not what I'm suggesting. We should encourage interesting/specific tags. [Crust] – Ocaasi Aug 1 '10 at 18:18
  • You're speaking in metaphors that I'm afraid I don't understand. "Horizontally as well as vertically?" What is a "horizontal" or "vertical" search? I also never said or implied that money-related tags weren't useful; we have a [budget-cooking] tag and I think that could be quite useful. It's also clearly an area of expertise; there are entire cookbooks tailored to frugality. – Aaronut Aug 1 '10 at 19:00
  • Sure. Take onions as an example. Vertical would be [onions]. Every questions that involves the ingredient onions gets the tag. If I'm an onion expert, I know where to look. If I'm cooking onions I know where to look. This is useful. It's also useful to connect some aspect of cooking onions to that same aspect which shows up with other ingredients. I don't just mean broader though. Onions and tomatoes are both [vegetables], but that's not what I'm talking about... – Ocaasi Aug 1 '10 at 20:03
  • I'm talking about, say, [caramelization]. Onions do it, sometimes, so do steaks, so do egg-washes, so do creme-brulees. These threads will variously draw from across a subsection of the "vertical" topics (onions, steaks, eggs, creme-brulee); in other words, not all onion questions are about caramelization, but the ones that are will be "usefully categorized" with other caramelization questions from other topics. This is useful, too. ... – Ocaasi Aug 1 '10 at 20:06
  • Now, there is no such thing as a "caramelization expert". There's no "caramelization cookbook". But it's still a good tag, because it will aggregate similar issues, advice, and technique. Moreover, it will give readers a jumping-off point: "Wait, I just learned how to brown a steak properly; in what other situations is browning important, and how is it achieved? Also, is there some meta-technique or scientific explanation which bridges them (i.e. the maillard reaction)? That's what I mean by horizontal. – Ocaasi Aug 1 '10 at 20:09
  • My argument is simply that we can have both "vertical" and "horizontal" tags. The only tags we shouldn't have are bad ones: the overbroad, duplicate, unlikely tags. – Ocaasi Aug 1 '10 at 20:17
  • I downvoted this for the same reason as aaronut. As we've discussed in other threads, tagging is NOT for grouping indirectly related questions. It just isn't. The SE tagging system is there to allow users to filter by content, NOT by what the asker thinks is related content. – Mike Sherov Aug 2 '10 at 12:21
  • Caramelization (or perhaps just browning) is a technique and warrants its own subcategory (even if it's a small one). That doesn't sound "horizontal" or "vertical" to me. However, I don't find that a tag about the Maillard reaction adds anything to those. If we had a whole series of questions on food science and several specifically asking about the Maillard reaction then it would make sense as a tag; but most of the people asking about caramelization/browning and many of the people answering them won't even know that term. – Aaronut Aug 2 '10 at 12:31
  • @Aaronut Agree with [Maillard] not being a needed tag. I don't think I added it, although I did see it in the list (and made a note to remove it). I meant that people might learn about the Maillard reaction by searching through questions about carmelization/browning. That's what I'm getting at: it's the kind of detail a reader/asker might not expect to find, but would be led to by a good, what I have been calling horizontal, tag. – Ocaasi Aug 2 '10 at 18:01
  • @Mike "Tagging is NOT for grouping indirectly related questions... The SE tagging system is there to allow users to filter by content, NOT by what the asker thinks is related content." This is an issue I think is complicated and obviously has some precedence on SO sites, which I think is suboptimal. That's my hunch, having not used this platform beyond the past two weeks here. It's worth discussion in more detail, probably in a new thread/proposal, but my basic point is that tags should be for anyone who uses the site and can benefit from them. Why wouldn't they be for readers/askers? – Ocaasi Aug 2 '10 at 18:04
  • I really don't see how [caramelization] or [browning] is a "horizontal" tag. It's a technique tag, just like [grilling] or [roasting]. All of those tags describe an area of skill or knowledge, and I have yet to see any good or useful examples of tags that describe the type or format of the question itself, or anything that's not directly related to the content. – Aaronut Aug 2 '10 at 19:19
  • "Indirect" is being used as a weasel word to mean "pointless". Anything useful is sufficiently related. – Ocaasi Aug 2 '10 at 20:17
  • Gotta love Ocaasi's spirit and good intentions! IMO. At least, he put it out there. – kiamlaluno Aug 3 '10 at 3:17
  • Thanks Cinque (I think). I haven't been around long enough to know the limitations. I like it that way. – Ocaasi Aug 3 '10 at 3:26

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