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This is a reminder about adding or editing tags.

Don't use tags that are not about your question. Again, the point of tags here is to help sort your question into clear, specific categories. Don't just slap a tag on your question just because it happens to mention a certain topic; only use tags that are actually about your question's topic. Tags that the question is not about don't belong.

(This is an excerpt from How do I correctly tag my questions? on Meta Stack Exchange.)

Specifically, if the question uses examples and changing the content of the examples would change the tags, those tags should not have been used originally. That is because, in those cases, the question "happens to mention a certain topic", but is not "about [that] question's topic".


It should always be possible, though sometimes difficult, to create a "This is about" statement to describe what tags to use.

For example,

  • This is about [trade] between the [united-kingdom] and the [european-union]

  • This is about the [senate-rules] for [impeachment] of the [president] of the [united-states]

  • This is about [international] [sanctions] against the [russian-federation] for [armed-conflict] in [ukraine]

Any text contained in brackets is a tag-name. Other "topics" mentioned are not important for tagging.

It sometimes happens that a poster will mention a country, person, or event as an example, but the question is not about that country, person, or event, specifically. In those cases, excess tags could/should be removed.

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    It would help if you explained why you posted this and gave some examples of what was being done wrong.
    – Joe W
    Apr 16, 2022 at 14:03
  • @JoeW - Providing examples may be seen as "finger pointing". Something I don't want to do. Besides, I have been removing some such irrelevant "content" tags for a couple of years now. Getting others to recognize the problem means less for me to do. Furthermore, should one object to a tag edit, this post will serve as a reminder.
    – Rick Smith
    Apr 16, 2022 at 14:24
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    As it stands I have no clue what you are referring to and as a member who is more active on this site that is a bit concerning. The audience that you are likely targeting with this post are unlikely to read this post in the first place and even less likely to understand what you are referring to. Providing some examples will help people understand what you are referring to when you say adding bad tags.
    – Joe W
    Apr 16, 2022 at 15:42
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    @RickSmith Thank you for the reminder. It is hard to argue with this recommendation. Adding specific examples (real-life or toy examples) would make your post even more effective. No need to link to specific questions, but what would be great is a few examples of extra tags that should be removed from a question (provide a short snippet as an example), and a few examples of missing tags. Apr 16, 2022 at 16:42
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    For example, for this question: Does Putin want to restore the USSR? the tags russian-federation is OK, since it is a question about present-day Russia, but ukraine is not OK, since it is only used as one example, and could have been replaced by another example. Apr 16, 2022 at 16:48
  • Here is another example. The question How can one efficiently find primary sources of propaganda in order to research it? has a tag russian-federation (OK), because the whole question revolves around political research of propaganda perpetuated by Russian. Here again, ukraine or vladimir-putin would not be OK, since the question mentions them only tangentially, and Putin's Ukraine speech could have been replaced with a different example. Apr 16, 2022 at 16:54
  • I think it's more debatable that when an example is given whether the question is or isn't about the example. If it turns out the example is invalid and someone posts a frame-challenge answer on the validity of the example... Apr 16, 2022 at 22:10

1 Answer 1

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Is there a discussion of how (or even whether) this guidance is relevant to Politics.SE?

I can understand why using a for-loop, in an example, would not justify a 'for-loop' or 'loop' tag in a question about code. But the distinction between content and context is not so clear-cut in politics.SE.

Someone who looks through the "ukraine" tag may be under-served by not seeing a question which uses a war in Ukraine as a motivating example. Even though Ukraine would technically be part of the context rather than content of the question, the information in the answers may very well, and, in fact, is likely to add meaningful information about that war and the country of Ukraine at large.

There are also some attempts to "sneak in" some information, which would not be appropriate, as subject matter for the questions, under the guise of using them as "examples." Which makes the distinction between content and context even more difficult to justify. In other words, if someone is ranting in an example for a "question," the tag about the rant is as appropriate as a tag about the question's subject matter.

If examples change, then the tags can change, too. Both changes are done with edits. So this is not really detrimental to what the tags are used for. The way in which tags are used by users should contribute the motivation of how they are applied.

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  • 1) The way in which tags are used by users should contribute the motivation of how they are applied. I would say the motivation is in the title and body of the question, not the tags. Most users provide a "good" set of tags most of the time; but there are over 700 tags and sometimes an obscure tag is missed or a common tag is misused. (The common voting-systems tag is frequently misused.)
    – Rick Smith
    Apr 19, 2022 at 3:03
  • 2) The problem with mistagged questions is that it adds difficulty in finding duplicates. An irrelevant tag must not be used when searching for duplicates. A misused tag also affects the "Related" questions list, where any potential duplicate should appear. So, the need for supplying the "best" set of tags for a question is tied the search engine, as well.
    – Rick Smith
    Apr 19, 2022 at 3:03
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    3) Those who may be "under-served" by the absence of a tag should probably be using a general search, rather than a tag search, like: ukraine is:q created:02-27-2022... While that finds 202 questions, of those there are 66 questions mentioning Ukraine since February 27, 2022, that are not tagged ukraine.
    – Rick Smith
    Apr 19, 2022 at 3:04
  • That's a general problem of using tags as categories rather than as free-association helpers. 5 categories is usually not even enough as a depth of a taxonomy. And the suggestion that an inexperienced user should be using a query language instead of tags just doesn't comport with how users behave.
    – wrod
    Apr 19, 2022 at 3:19
  • And inexperienced users don't know to ask for help on how to use the query language to find the questions they're interested in, How do I search? is a helpful start for anybody. Assistance with searching can be requested by posting a question on Meta. Ultimately, we must work within the system and with the tools provided.
    – Rick Smith
    Apr 19, 2022 at 3:39
  • @RickSmith inexperienced users don't even know there is a query language. Using tags to narrow down content is much more prevalent on the web than using queries. It's just how things are. Anytime one starts with "people should ... in order for me to be useful to them," one will be less useful than someone who starts with "what are people likely to do that I can help with?"
    – wrod
    Apr 19, 2022 at 3:44

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