We have and . Many questions are in fact about , but certainly not all. Should anything be done about this? Some options I can see:

  • Retag any questions specifically about drinking with , keeping the tag.
  • Like previous alternative, but removing the tag.
  • Do nothing.
  • Merge the tags and make a synonym of .
  • Something else?

3 Answers 3


The description of has been modified in the meantime by Liam and subsequently me in accordance with the following reasoning - have a look.

I don't think we should merge the two tags. If anything, keep the more specific tag . With the current description of it is indeed the exact same thing, but that is not the case. could also refer to sports in water, interactions of water with gear, ... In that sense it is too broad. However with low question counts, it could still have merit as an umbrella tag: Consider the example of water in contact with gear. Setting aside the uglyness of for the sake of the argument, it would also be pointless as there simply wont be many questions applying to it.

So in my opinion: When the question is about drinking water, use and optionally as well. When the question is about anything else that includes water, first search for/try to think of a useful specific tag (e.g. ) and if there really is none (or it is way too unique) and water really is very important to this question, use as a last resort.

Therefore in my opinion the description of the tag should be made more generic and contain a reference to the more specific water related tags.


I agree with imsodin that we shouldn't merge the tags. Since this is too long for a comment, I'll add it as a supplement to his answer, which I upvoted, and hope it's not too redundant.

Generic, or umbrella, tags are called meta-tags by the SE system, and are discouraged in many cases. The What are tags, and how should I use them? page in the Help Center has a good description and offers guidance.

Avoid meta-tags.

Do not use meta-tags in questions. Here are some tips to help you determine whether a tag is a meta-tag:

If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag. Every tag you use should be able to work, more or less, as the only tag on a question. Meta-tags, like [beginner], [subjective], and [best-practices], are not helpful by themselves – they do not communicate anything about the content of the question.

If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it’s probably a meta-tag. For example, the meaning of the tag [subjective] is, itself, subjective; the same is true for tags like [best-practices] and [beginner]. Best practices to whom? Beginner by what criteria? Use only tags that have a broadly accepted, objective definition.

As you can see, this was written originally for a programming audience. However, we can apply it to this discussion, and our site in general, exactly as imsodin did. For instance, would be a meta-tag. That means, at least in most cases, it wouldn't be helpful as the only tag on the question. It would also need something specific, such as or even , which was not in gerrit's question here, but I think might be a good inclusion to this discussion.

There's a similar situation at Gardening and Landscaping. One example of a meta-type tag is .

Part of the definition says:

Use this tag for general questions on plant care. This is an extremely general tag and should be avoided if possible. In most cases there are much more appropriate, specific tags available. E.g. for watering, light, pollination.

The same type of language could be part of our tag, and emphasized in the tag wiki, which we haven't written yet.

As editors, when we come across a question with just the tag, we could add the more specific tag, and either leave there, or remove it, depending on the situation. Sometimes leaving it would be helpful in terms of finding relevant questions, but I concur that we should try to avoid having it the only tag, and that we shouldn't have other tags routed to it.


I think the best solution is

Merge the tags and make a synonym of .


Questions relating to obtaining, carrying, or purifying water for use during outdoor excursions.


Questions referring water that is safe for human consumption.

  • Hi James, just to clarify, are you saying you'd like water to be the tag most commonly used, and if someone uses drinking-water it automatically renames it to water, or vice versa? Jul 1, 2017 at 22:47
  • @Sue Water should be the most commonly used. Jul 2, 2017 at 0:04
  • Thanks for the clarification! Jul 4, 2017 at 15:41
  • 1
    I would disagree since these tags are not necessarily the same. I like imsodin's answer addressing this issue.
    – OddDeer
    Jul 6, 2017 at 11:14
  • 1
    I like imsodin's answer better also. but this answer needs to exist. Jul 6, 2017 at 12:06

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