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This topic of question will likely become one of the most popular, so we should have one tag to refer to it. I would support [Technique], since it is singular and I think Cooking is already implied.

1

I've been using cooking-techniques and baking-techniques, and I imagine there my be other types of techniques - but I have no strong feelings about it either way.

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After looking at the various questions now tagged technique (or cooking-techniques), I've come to the conclusion that we shouldn't have these tags at all.

There are currently 173 questions on the site; of those, 43 are tagged technique and 17 are tagged cooking-techniques, with only 3 intersecting questions. There's also the very similar-sounding preparation tag, with 16 questions (another 3 intersecting with technique).

That means that 70 out of 173 questions use these highly-generic tags. That's almost half! There's virtually no selectivity here; they all mean essentially the same thing and are basically useless in a search. It's really a lot like the code and design tags on Stack Overflow; sure, a question might be about one or the other, but it really makes little difference. The distinction may be important to the author, but it won't be important to anybody answering the question.

On a site about cooking, you have to assume that the majority of questions will either be about a specific technique, a specific food/ingredient, or a specific piece of kitchen equipment. The specific tag should be used to delineate here, not the generic tag which applies to approximately 1/3 of all the questions.

The litmus test for a tag should be: If somebody can answer one question on [tag], is it likely that they'd be able to answer other questions on [tag]? If the tag is asian-cuisine, then the answer is a resounding yes! But who can seriously claim to be an expert on technique in general?

Some specific examples:

  • How can I chop onions without “crying”

    • ...is tagged both technique and cooking-technique

    • The cooking-technique tag is actually incorrect, as the question has nothing to do with actually cooking the onions.

    • The technique tag is valid, but doesn't tell you anything that's not obvious from the title.

    • The tag that it should have is precisely the tag it doesn't have: chopping (or dicing or cutting or whatever folks agree is most appropriate). Somebody who knows a lot about chopping can probably answer many questions on that subject, not just about onions.

  • What’s the best way to defrost ice-cream/sorbet quickly?

    • This one is actually pretty well-tagged. It has ice-cream (the food) and defrosting (the technique). Together these completely define the scope of the question.

    • Let's use the litmus test. If I can answer one question about ice-cream, I can probably answer several. Likewise, if I'm used to dealing with frozen food, I can probably answer several questions about defrosting.

    • The technique tag, however, adds no value here. It's already implied by defrosting (which is a technique).

  • What can I use for a Crème brûlée if I don’t have a blow torch?

    • Two tags are totally generic and fail the litmus test (technique and utensils).

    • The other tag is actually misleading (you wouldn't expect substitutions to apply to equipment as opposed to ingredients).

    • The most important tag - the actual technique - is missing! The tag caramelizing should be on this question. I would also probably tag this creme-brulee or at least pastries, as this is the kind of question that any pastry chef (or pastry "expert") should be able to answer.

I hope people get the idea here. The technique tag probably seemed like a good idea when the site had fewer than 10 questions, but it's already weakening and will become completely meaningless once the site has thousands of questions. Likewise with cooking-techniques and preparation.

I humbly request that people stop using these generic tags. If your question is about a technique, then it should be tagged with the specific technique being asked about.

I also think that technique "umbrellas" are OK - such as baking, sauces, pastries, rotisserie, etc. These are actually separate positions in a brigade kitchen, so it is quite likely for somebody to be an expert on one of them. Any more generic than that, though, and the tag is no longer useful.

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some techniques might be preparation techniques or utensil techniques, and it might be worth differentiating these from cooking technique. having said that I have been using just technique, but might have used baking-technique if I had a specific baking question.

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