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In specific reference to a retag of this question, tags were added for [fruit] and [bananas].

My concern is chiefly: the [bananas] tag didn't exist before, so why create a tag for this question? The [fruit] tag actually makes sense and is in good use.

Seems like it must be a black art of knowing all the tags on the site, because I definitely looked around for a while and tried to pick through tags that made the most sense. And, I didn't want to throw in too many tags, either.

Another part of my concern isn't so much the tags, but that the question then shows it was fully "edited" and nothing constructive occurred, nor was anything corrected. Maybe this is just the way things are with SE sites. That may be a topic for another discussion, or something that is answered elsewhere, but I'd be interested in an answer/comment or relevant link to elsewhere containing the same.

  • it is constructive to bump the Q's to the front page -- otherwise, how would you have even known this happened? It's part of sediment churning to ensure healthy crops! – Jeff Atwood Feb 11 '11 at 2:48
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A number of things I'd like to note here:

  • Cooking tags in a nutshell: Classes of ingredients (fruit), specific ingredients (bananas), techniques (frying), equipment (microwave), cuisines (chinese cuisine), well-known areas of study (food safety, molecular gastronomy), and dietary restrictions (low-carb) all make for good tags that somebody might follow.

  • Other tags are usually suspect, especially if they're meta ("comparisons"), vague ("ingredients"), subjective ("easy"), extremely broad ("technique"), or ambiguous (we had a short but amicable discussion about a "flapjack" tag recently).

  • Retags aren't meant as a criticism; they're usually done to help target your question better so that it will get better and more relevant answers. And obviously, also, we want to try to maintain a stable taxonomy as the site grows and inconsistencies become harder to fix.

  • I was actually surprised that didn't already exist, because there have been several questions already on bananas specifically. I considered adding the tag to the other questions at the same time, but we're still not a super busy site and that makes me wary of bumping too many old questions at once. I prefer to retag them when they're bumped for some other reason.

  • Yes, retags are classified as an edit in the sense that they bump the question, but don't worry, they don't count toward community-wikification or anything. They just show up as edits so people can vet them and make sure nobody's abusing the system.

  • Most of the retags are done by me, mainly because I guess I'm one of the few who are inclined to take the time and effort. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm trying to enforce a specific system, I just want to see consistency, because consistency means that features like subscriptions and "interesting tags" are reliable.

    • In fact, much of the time I'm just following conventions started by other people; I'm not terribly crazy about tags like , but they're pretty well entrenched in the folksonomy by now and not offensive enough for me to get upset about.
  • Creating a good taxonomy is kind of a black art, or at least a learned one. I didn't really have a clear idea of what tags were useful here until about 2-3 months into the public beta, and before that, I created some pretty lousy tags myself (I am responsible for the horribly-vague ). Anyway, if you're interested in making your mark on the tag system, the best way to learn is just to start retagging questions. The most straightforward retags to do are the blindingly obvious ones, like adding tags for the specific ingredient; after a while you'll start to see other opportunities that make sense.

  • None of my actions should be above scrutiny or debate, and that includes retags. If you think I'm doing something wrong (or if anyone else is doing something wrong), don't hesitate to bring it up here on meta.

  • Just, please, above all else, don't mass-retag 100 questions in a single night without talking to anybody first. That happened once, and we're still trying to clean up the mess!

I hope that sheds some light on what some of us (I guess mainly me) are doing with the tags and why. Don't hesitate to do the occasional retag yourself if you think you can improve the tags on a question; worst thing that can happen is it gets removed or re-retagged by someone with more reputation or stronger opinions - no harm done.

  • Whoa nellie. So, a) thanks for the great response. b) Definitely was not calling anyone in particular out on this. I tried to use words carefully that raise larger questions of proper retagging in the context of the question mentioned, without sounding accusatory or offended. Seems like I've retagged a couple things when it was in dire need. I'll keep all this info in mind if I keep having time to contribute to this site. – zanlok Feb 11 '11 at 8:56
  • @zanlok: Didn't interpret it as an accusation, I just know for a fact that I do most of the retags, so it made sense to call that out. – Aaronut Feb 11 '11 at 14:12
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In our early beta days we covered a lot of ground and had many discussion regarding tagging. One of the guidelines we have in place is that you tag questions about food, well with the name of the food, in the plural or collective sense. You can read all of these discussions under the tagging tag.

Generally we try for 1-2 broad-ish categories, e.g. [food-science], [baking], or [substitutions] and then use the remaining tags to "drill down" a bit of specificity. e.g. [bananas], [tomatoes], and [pork]. All are applied as appropriate of course. In general we avoid creating ridiculously specific tags, e.g. [banana-in-a-microwave] and just stick to the broader ones that are likely to collect several questions under them. For whatever reason, your question was the first that got noticed and tagged bananas.

Who makes these decisions? Well, we do. That includes you. As you gain reputation you earn privileges such as creating new tags, and editing other's questions.

It's hard to pick up "tone" on the internet, so I could be wrong, but you're coming across as a little concerned that you might have did something wrong. If so, don't worry you didn't. Having your question edited, even to just add a tag, is never meant as a slight. We're just keeping things tidy. Aaronut in particular is a master tagger.

Another part of my concern isn't so much the tags, but that the question then shows it was fully "edited" and nothing constructive occurred, nor was anything corrected. Maybe this is just the way things are with SE sites.

Yep, it sure is. Any edit bumps a question to the front page. The intent is to make it very clear to everyone who and what is being edited; it helps prevent abuse from going unnoticed.

  • Thanks for the technique explanation here. That's basically what I had visualized before. Anyone that's a SO person/programmer have a chart for the tag object model/hierarchy? (j/k) – zanlok Feb 11 '11 at 9:00

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