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When you try to edit the tags when asking a question (or edit the tags of a question when having less than 2 k), a box how to tag appears on the right, showing some general help on tagging. The content of this box is site-specific, for example it is individualised on Anime & Manga.

Now, we have a handful of tags that are prone to being misused, namely , , , , , , , , and . In fact I removed the from what feels like 100 questions in the last months.

Would it be possible to add a paragraph or two to the how-to-tag help box warning users not to misuse these tags, do we actually want this and if yes, how should this help text be worded? With respect to the latter, you might want to cannibalise this help text I wrote on Welcome to Academia SE on the same topic.

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I propose the following wording:

Use tags that describe what your question is about, not what it merely relates to. For example almost every question on this site is eventually related to research, but only questions about performing research should be tagged .

Use tags describing circumstances only if those circumstances are essential to your question. For example, if you have a question about citations that came up during writing a thesis but might as well have arisen during writing a paper, do not tag it with .

Implemented June 6th, 2017:

screenshot of /questions/ask tag guidance, with the wording above included

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I think we don't need to worry about high-usage tags, if they are for general categories. A post can have multiple tags, so it's OK if one or two are quite broad.

For comparison, consider the following statistics on the top four tags of our site vs. a couple of the other major sites;

  • Academia.SE: publications (18%), phd (16%), graduate-admissions (12%), research (9%)
  • StackOverflow: javascript (9%), java (9%), c# (8%), php (8%)
  • SuperUser.SE: windows-7 (14%), linux (11%), windows (10%), osx (6%) 275K

We're somewhat more concentrated, but not so much that I think it's worth worrying about.

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    I am not worried about the fact that some tags are highly used; I am worried about the fact that some tags are overused to the extent that they are pointless. E.g., a lot of new questions about publications or citing are tagged research, when they are not about research at all. If you are searching for questions that actually are about research or if you want to favorite the research tag to answer questions about this topic, as you get a lot of noise. Also, I do not see such a problem with the publications tag, despite being the most popular one. – Wrzlprmft Aug 9 '15 at 15:30
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    @Wrzlprmft Then I think you are not concerned about overuse but instead about misuse. – jakebeal Aug 9 '15 at 15:32
  • Well, it’s misuse in form of overuse, but you are right: misuse is more specific. – Wrzlprmft Aug 9 '15 at 15:40

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