As some of you may have noticed, we've got some truly awful tags littering the parent site. I'm not talking about the little one-off tags where somebody pastes their question title into the tag box, either; these are tags that have been used a lot. For example:
ingredients and preparation were good tags in theory, but the terminology is too vague and ambiguous for them to be used consistently.
[ingredients]was originally supposed to be about choosing ingredients (checking for ripeness, bruises, etc.) and
[preparation]- was meant to be about the preparation phase of a recipe (chopping, rolling, stuffing, what have you). Take a look at the questions in those tags and see how many of them are actually about those things.
Now I'd like to be clear - this isn't a knock against the people who've used those tags. In fact, one of the most important things I've learned about tagging here is that mis-tagged questions usually aren't the fault of their authors. If you put confusing terminology out there, people are going to get confused.
The problem is, as much as some of us would like to, we can't just go on a big retagging spree because it'll bump a hundred old questions and push everything new off the front page. Somebody even asked about that yesterday. Even we moderators can only rename entire tags without bumping; we can't remove them, and we can't do anything selectively.
So here's what I'm thinking: If there's a tag we don't want people to use anymore, we (moderators) could rename that tag to
[please-remove-this-tag], and add a tag wiki for it which says that yes, we really do want people to remove the tag, but only from a few questions at a time, don't go crazy with it.
We'd only do this with high-use tags that have no value, like
[cooking-techniques]. For less clear-cut tags like
[ingredients], we'd first have to hand-sort the ones that are more accurately classified as
[ingredient-selection], and only afterward perform such a rename on the leftovers.
I know it looks and sounds a little on the silly side, but I think it would work. Most of those tags only exist on old questions (since we remove them from new ones), so the rate of bumping would be pretty low; retags would only happen when somebody happens to stumble on one of them. But in the meantime, the original tag is gone and newbies won't get lulled into using it.
I felt that this was the type of thing I should take up with the meta community first before acting. So, does anyone have any objections? Caveats? Comments? Questions?
I welcome any input as to alternatives, but - fair warning - don't intend to give much weight to any comments or answers saying "don't remove them, we like these tags", since there's been ample discussion about it on various fora and almost all of us agree that they need to go.
Oh, and if people agree, then suggestions for what to put in the tag wiki are also welcome.