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This is after one of the discussions in chat where we had some debate over how broad or how narrow a tag scope should be.

We currently have , et al. These are pretty narrow in scope. However, we also have and as tags. Which are much broader in scope.

Going with specifics make the tags numerous in number. For example, tomorrow if I add a question on a different species of bird, I'll be inclined to add that as a tag. And that might be the only question under the tag. And I'll have to add multiple tags to keep it relevant for searches.

Having a broader tag might keep the number of questions under the tag large. And might not give idea about the specifics of what the question is targeting (Not sure if this would be a problem for search engines).

So what's the take of our community on this. Here's a discussion on a specific tag before.

Note: I understand that the help center states that we need to prevent creating new tags if possible thereby implying specific tags might not be of any use. I'm asking for community consensus on this. The help is defined for us and we can change it based on our consensus.

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I also feel that having only very narrow tags is bad, whether for SEO (I no nothing about that) or just because a tag without enough questions can't really do grouping. However a new tag is by definition always a narrow tag, as there is just one question in it. So it is just the natural evolution of a tag, to start off narrow. To bridge that problem, we have 5 tag slots: Just use an applicable, broader tag and also add the new, thus narrow tag. If the narrow one attracts critical mass, using the broad one might become unnecessary for new questions (e.g. -> ).

It's not that hard: Just use/add/modify what feels right on new questions, and if there is a specific disagreement take it to meta, and don't mass retag old questions (don't retag old questions at all unless there is a pressing issue).

  • Also if a tag is used from the start like with say paragliding, then it theory it will be possible to put it onto all paragliding questions without ever bumping anything – Charlie Brumbaugh Apr 27 '18 at 13:52
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Let's quote the purpose of tags from the help center,

What are tags, and how should I use them?

A tag is a word or phrase that describes the topic of the question. Tags are a means of connecting experts with questions they will be able to answer by sorting questions into specific, well-defined categories.

Tags can also be used to help you identify questions that are interesting or relevant to you.

With that in mind, it's not a choice between having narrow or broad tags, as in 95 percent of the cases we can use both.

There are plenty of cases where a question gets Hot and votes trickle down to other questions with the same tags because users come to the Hot questions and decide they would like to read more questions like it.

Sometimes I am interested in reading all of the questions about birds and sometimes I am interested just the questions about geese. Using both tags in that case helps me do both.

Regarding SEO, tags are helpful in creating the list of related questions on the the side of the site. If a moose question has the tag moose on it, that signals to the site that it should put more moose questions in the sidebar while if it had just an animals tag the signal would be less strong.

For example, we can have both

  • gear and carabiner
  • gear and rope
  • gear and backpacks
  • bears and polar-bears

etc.

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TL;DR very specific tags are damaging to the SEO score of the site.

What are tags

Tags are meta collections of questions. The tags main purpose is SEO. It helps google make better decisions on what questions are related. Re-tagging depletes this because it keeps moving things around. Adding too many tags depletes this because the groups become too small.

Hence the help advice:

As a general rule, you should avoid creating new tags if possible

Retagging should only happen in the context outlined in the help documents:

Re-tagging

As part of the editing process, users may suggest edits or directly edit the tags of a question if they feel a certain tag was used inappropriately or that the question is missing a tag.

You should re-tag questions when:

  • You are adding valuable information to the question by doing so
  • You are replacing obscure or difficult to understand tags with well-known and popular tags that are appropriate for the question.

Moving things around because you disagree with the tags or adding spurious tags because you think that should have a tag is a waste of time is a waste of everyone's time especially when the tags link to the question is tenuous.

I'd like to point out that this has all come from this discussion. I still totally disagree with a tag even if it is now (pettily) a plural...

  • I have yet to see any official documentation saying that narrow tags are bad for seo. Are there any official links you know of? – Charlie Brumbaugh Apr 27 '18 at 14:35

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