A lot of users, myself included, believe the current tagging situation is a bit messy. This has been discussed before:

So, perhaps the time has come to sort the tagging mess once and for all (or at least, until the next dispute).

My suggestion, after considering the linked discussions, is:

Our guideline as to whether a tag should be used is whether it's likely users will use that tag as a filter (either filter as interesting, or filter as ignored). If a tag's utility as a filter is strongly contested, err on the side of allowing it.

So, according to that logic, and with a bunch of examples after each entry:

  1. Game tags are IN.
  2. Platform tags are IN.
  3. Tags that mean different things in different games are OUT.
  4. Tags which are specific to one game are IN, and should be prefixed with the game they are specific to, unless they are unique.
  5. Tags that describe the question but not its content (meta-tags) are OUT.
  6. (and here comes the hard part) - tags which mean roughly the same thing in different games, but are otherwise very unlikely to be used as filters by themselves, are OUT.

Now, for me, items (1-5) are no-brainers. It’s (6) which is the problematic one, and removing these tags will affect hundreds, if not thousands, of questions on this site. So, what are the pros and cons of allowing these tags?

Pros

The primary pro I can think about is that they can help when searching. Tags are originally intended for filtering, not for searching, and are not really required because one can search for any word in the question or answer title or body - as opposed to filtering, which is only possible for tags.

However, these tags can help by introducing a common set of keywords people will expect to use. For instance, if I want to search for an achievement-related question, I know I can use in my query (as well as any other tag or keyword I want) and still find the question, even if the content only actually contains “trophy” or “medal” or whatever that name/platform uses for the concept of achievements.

Likewise, if I search for questions related to the Templar follower in Diablo III, I can just search for and find the question, whether the actual question content contains “Templar” (the follower’s class), “Kormac” (the follower’s name) or even just “follower” or “companion”.

Cons

  1. The tagging is a bit vague and inconsistent. If we do leave those tags around, there are a lot of questions which should really be utilizing them, but don’t. This kind of weakens the search pro above. If we do go these routes, it will probably mean that a lot of new questions will need to be edited for the “appropriate” tags... and I don’t believe that’s a healthy situation.
  2. It’s hard to draw the line between items under category (3) and those under (6). is obviously (3). is pretty strongly (6). But what about or ? To which do they belong? I’m sure some of the readers already disagreed with me listing some of the tags above under (3) or (6) - this shows there is some disagreement here, as opposed to the other categories.
  3. These tags are useless when they are by themselves - in other words, they are (almost) useless for filtering. It’s unlikely that many will star (mark as favorite) or go to its “unanswered” tab, simply because without the game name, the scope is too wide.

Conclusion

I'm actually not 100% confident in my opinion above and will love to hear opposing arguments - of which I'm sure there are many, given that my suggestion is in contradiction with some of the linked discussions at the start.

If this guideline is accepted, I propose for all tags on this site to be evaluated based on it and be mercilessly burninated as necessary. I propose the burnination to take place as tag deletions, not retags, to avoid polluting the front page.

Overall this will lead to the site having a lower average number of tags per question; but that's not necessarily a bad thing, in fact some believe it to be the preferred situation.

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First, I believe there are some people who have contention with the current way #2 (platform tags) are implemented, but I'll leave it to them to post about that. Secondly, is "achievements" supposed to be listed twice there? Thirdly, and my main point, I am very very loath to burninate the tags in #6 unless search is fixed to suck less. It currently doesn't even recognize plurals as synonyms. See: "achievement" and "achievements" give you different results. –  FAE May 10 '12 at 12:53
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For the most part, I'm inclined to agree with this, but, I do think we need to also strongly reevaluate the way platform tags are currently applied. As is, they're an inconsistent mess, and I don't think particularly useful, even, or perhaps especially as a filtering mechanism. –  LessPop_MoreFizz May 10 '12 at 12:55
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@LessPop_MoreFizz to be honest I thought we had a consensus about platform tagging, with my +31/-1 answer to this question. If I'm wrong, elaborate on that below? –  Oak May 10 '12 at 13:19
    
@oak Yes, and after two years of operating under that principle, I strongly believe it needs to be reevaluated, because it just hasn't worked, particularly in light of changes to the handling of the title attribute over that time. But I'll make a seperate meta post to deal with that issue when I get home. Suffice it to say, I think platform tags belong, but dislike their current application. –  LessPop_MoreFizz May 10 '12 at 13:26
    
I'm 100% agreed with you here, Oak. If the "only use it when needed" approach to platform tags isn't working then it's because people aren't using it properly. New users can be excused but the rest of us ought to be editing. Oh, and pc and steam don't mention how to use the tag, whereas ios is a little too broad IMO. We should fix that assuming this discussion doesn't result in a change to that approach. –  Matthew Read May 10 '12 at 15:33
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I agree with the platform tag rules. I don't agree with point 4. I don't see why unique tags should be inconsistently lacking the game name. starcraft-zerg seems fine to me since we are dealing with filters and not searching. This works especially well with the recent prevention of no "double game name in the title from tags" change. –  Resorath May 10 '12 at 16:38
    
@Resorath that's an interesting point, though I think that if something is just unique enough, no real prefix is necessary. In any case the core of my suggestion is to allow game-specific tags - perhaps it's best to leave their naming convention as the topic for another meta-discussion, if it's contended... –  Oak May 10 '12 at 21:43
    
On Platform Tags. –  LessPop_MoreFizz May 11 '12 at 2:33
    
One thing not acknowledged in discussing #6 is that you can have tags which have higher post counts than popular, individual games which affects the search results on google yes? I agree with the platform tag discussions. I generally think for #2 that the game name should be included for the reasons Resorath stated. –  Tharius May 16 '12 at 17:40
    
money being the catch-all for economics, gold, etc. was a horrible idea imho. –  Nick T May 31 '12 at 14:52
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5 Answers 5

Given the positive reception to my post on Platform Tags, I'd like to propose that when/if we do any sort of tagging overhaul, that Fixing Platform Tags be part of the change.

If nothing comes of this Meta discussion in a few weeks, I'll dredge up the platform tag issue and see about acting on it on it's own.

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Regarding 6, I like to consider useful tags as those that someone can become an expert in. Nobody is going to become an expert in , because that means playing World of Warcraft, Skyrim, Flyff, et. al.

Yes, our tagging system is a bit "boring" then, but that's the nature of games; people don't "cross over" between games to play only particular bits (usually you can't because of their linear nature). When someone has a game, they are generally invested in it as a whole (category 1 game-name tags) or in part (category 4) for PvP/PvE, or this particular class/race.

For example, image-processing on SO is a great tag that should encompass a body of knowledge that is in and of itself rich, consistent, and nearly orthogonal to the programming-language-of-choice tags which generally underpin all questions on SO. There are very few examples like that here (none come to mind that aren't pseudo-platform (Steam) or technical (graphics-card)).

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It's probably a big ask from an engineering point of view, but I actually think there should be primary tags (i.e. game tags and possibly platform tags) and secondary tags (e.g. paladin, or achievements) which require a primary tag for context (e.g. you can't filter on a secondary unless you're already filtering on a primary). This approach would also remove odd cases like posts tagged with skyrim-quests but not skyrim.

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I raised a similar suggestion some time ago, but it was rejected. –  Oak May 30 '12 at 9:50
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The SE team is not willing to implement a different tagging system for gaming, so we need to work with what we have. –  Wipqozn May 30 '12 at 10:22
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Meta Posted

Considering the positive response this has received, I'll begin work on making a meta thread to perform a tag clean-up of the site similar to the one over at Meta Stack Overflow.

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I actually do see a use for the final category of tags

Often I won't know the exact wording that is used when I'm looking to see if a question already exists, so I'll search by both the game tag, and the sub-category tag and then just a single keyword.

For example, I did a search for the Blood on Ice quest in Skyrim before asking for help with it, but didn't find the potential duplicate because the related question was titled How do I find the murdered woman in Windhelm? and made no mention of the actual quest name. If I had known better, I could just just filtered for something like "[skyrim] [quests] windhelm" or "[skyrim] [quests] house"

Of course, not many people think to search that way (I didn't at first), however with the number of questions being asked for some games (ie. diablo-3), I'm starting to find adding a second tag quite useful.

As a side note, if you do decide to keep the tags I wouldn't bother re-tagging stuff. If the tag exists, it helps the question get found in related searches, but if it doesn't, oh well no big deal.

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Unchanged tags become broken windows and leave bad examples for new users, it's worth the effort of the change, ultimately. –  Tharius May 16 '12 at 17:42
    
Additionally [skyrim] [skyrim-quests] house or just [skyrim-quests] house also seems to work for your example. –  Tharius May 16 '12 at 17:42
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