Scanning through our questions will turn up many specific concerns about tag usage, but only one general concern:

Is it better to have more tags or fewer?

Shog9 also wrote an excellent explanation of how tagging works and why is not too general.

Jeff Atwood says, "It is my strong belief that the tags page is an essential map of what your community is, and is not, about." Looking at our existing tags, it's difficult to find a consistent pattern. Many sites have a primary set of tags that categorize questions. On Arqade, those primary tags are the only tag most questions carry. It's easy to see the site is about games. But I can't tell what Christianity.SE is about from looking at our tags.

How can we organize our tags to make sense?

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5 Answers 5

Divisions of Christianity should be our primary tags.

I've been using David Stratton's excellent answer as a touchstone when reading questions on the site. If you buy into the philosophy that we are looking down at Christianity rather than up for Truth, the largest regions of our map should be the three major traditions:

And we should have spaces for groups that fall outside of those categories and also tags for denominations within them. And there might be divisions that encompass several traditions (such as Chalcedonian) and others that cut across them (such as ). In essence, the main tag should answer the question:

Which group of Christians is the question about?

Note that this could also include systems of belief popularized by individuals (see and ). But tags for individual people ( and ) should be paired with:

That tag is useful for questions that cover Christians throughout history; the largest division in many ways. Another tag that might be beneficial is the for when you can't really identify who believes something.

Systematic theology items should be secondary tags

Besides individual Christians many of our other tags seem to be ideas that would make good chapter titles in a book of systematic theology. So the primary tag would tell you which volume to take off the metaphorical shelf in order to answer the question and the secondary tag would tell you which chapter. For instance:

Problem tags

However, a number of our most popular tags that are problematic. Many of them seem to be added to a question without any real understanding of how they might apply:

I think what happens is that people come to the site wanting to know more about Jesus and/or God so when they need to pick a tag they pick one of those and submit. That's fine, but we need to really be vigilant about cleaning up those questions. Otherwise, those tags become meaningless. (And there could be no greater tragedy, I think, than a site about Christianity where Jesus and God are rendered meaningless.)

I have strong opinions on the following tags that I will not reiterate:

Finally, I think the consensus on two meta-questions is that the tag is useless.

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tbh, jesus should be merged into christology and god should either be merged into something more technical or abandoned entirely –  wax eagle Nov 27 '12 at 21:49
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doctrine should be blacklisted. –  wax eagle Nov 27 '12 at 21:49
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It should be noted that abandoning a tag entirely is hard work and will require buy in from several community members, the typical process for getting rid of a tag is eliminating it from every question it exists on and then asking SEI to blacklist it. We should try to limit this as best we can but some big ones may need to go. –  wax eagle Nov 27 '12 at 21:51
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I love the classifications of primary and secondary tags. That'll help so much when we need to scope a question. In fact...maybe we could incorporate that into a FAQ meta post. I think we should. –  El'endia Starman Nov 27 '12 at 22:29
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I completely disagree, especially with your opening sentence. If tags reflect our site and we kick off with the divided church, I think our focus is wrong. I am really not interested in doctrinal differences. I guess I am only interested in The Truth, but, as you say, that is not what this site is for. Anyone else struggle with this and can offer some wise counsel? –  Wikis Nov 28 '12 at 5:34
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@Wikis: A secular site with an inclusive scope will never be a bastion of the truth. If that's what we try to make it, it is bound to fail. There is no way for that to work. However, I believe there is a purpose it can serve. We cannot pretend to be a united front because we are not the church. What we can do is be a public square where traditions meet that promotes understanding of each-others positions. We have already seen remarkable accomplishments in this area, but it only happens by focusing on the differences between us, allowing each party to articulate their own positions. –  Caleb Nov 28 '12 at 11:13
    
@Wikis: I've ranted about this before and stand by statement: "If you are more inclined to resent rather than celebrate the differences between us, then this may not be the site for you. Our differences are more than divisions between us, they are boundaries that define us. The only hope we have of crossing them is to identify and respect them." –  Caleb Nov 28 '12 at 11:13
    
@Caleb: you may be right, maybe I am trying to make the site something it is not, and maybe it is indeed not for me. I'll keep an open mind either way and hang around as long as I can add value and the site remains interesting to me. –  Wikis Nov 29 '12 at 5:27
    
@Caleb: btw, I don't resent the differences, I just don't think they should be our primary focus. –  Wikis Nov 29 '12 at 5:27
    
@Wikis: 2 things if I may. First, reviewing these comments I feel like I should make it explicitly clear that I wasn't trying to hint that you didn't belong here. I wrote that post early on without any specific individuals in mind, it was just a general vision thing. I stand by my opinion about how this will work best, but also feel strongly about the value of contributors who don't share quite the same vision. Second, I do think I understand where you're coming from not wanting differences to be the primary focus. [cont...] –  Caleb Dec 3 '12 at 11:15
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@Wikis: [...] I don't think they should be the main topic, just that in order for this to be a constructive venue I believe the differences should be explicitly acknowledged. They are the framework in which we work. If we try to take them out or stop acknowledging that they exist, I think our differences will actually tear this site apart rather than holding it together. If we go into every question knowing there are boundaries between us which must be respected, I think we'll get something built. If we go into every question trying to defend our ground, this will just be another debate forum. –  Caleb Dec 3 '12 at 11:15
    
@Caleb: regarding your first point, I guessed that was the case but thanks for confirming! And, yes, I appreciate your second point. –  Wikis Dec 3 '12 at 18:25
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@Wikis: Thank you for graciously assuming the better possible interpretation. –  Caleb Dec 3 '12 at 18:37
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I've removed the god tag, and carefully avoided any blasphemous jokes in announcing this. If it returns, it can be blacklisted. jesus I think needs further consideration; I'm not convinced christology is an effective replacement, though it may work as a synonym. –  Shog9 Dec 17 '12 at 19:20
    
@Shog9 god is back and just as bad, can you burn it again and blacklist it? Or do I need to start the meta post anew? –  wax eagle Aug 7 '13 at 18:33
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"It's about Jesus," I said.
"Everything here is," she muttered.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson


It's difficult to know which questions shouldn't be tagged or . That makes those tags of dubious usefulness and so I've been trying to remove them when they don't add anything. A lot of times, nothing need be substituted or the best tags are completely unrelated. But there are a few natural substitutions that we might consider:

These more-specific tags could help us get to the essence of our questions through better taxonomy.

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Is Jesus still a problem tag and would it be good to retag it to christology, historical-jesus, theophany etc? –  curiousdannii Jul 5 at 0:23
    
@curiousdannii: That's what I'd prefer. But at 545 (and counting) that's a rather large task these days. –  Jon Ericson Jul 5 at 2:22
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Wow, how did I miss this? I have written a lot about tagging relative to the original Stack Overflow. A lot of it was on UserVoice, before Stack Overflow even had a meta site or changed it's name to Stack Exchange, and most of it still applies here as well:

I think my last link is especially relevant to the more/easy-to-create vs fewer/hard-to-create nature of this question. This site is populated mainly with text that can be easily indexed and searched, and in that context you want a tagging system that is much more rigid. There is no purpose for tags that summarize the question, since that value is already covered by the question title and database index that allows searching. There is purpose in a rigid set of categories, so that questions of various types can be easily grouped. This only works when people are consistently using the same groups, and that means rigid tags that are hard to create.

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When I look at the existing tags, specifically at the front page, which shows the most used tags, here's the list I see:

bible
jesus
catholicism
biblical-basis
history
exegesis
doctrine
god
soteriology
sin
nature-of-god
lds
genesis
old-testament
prayer
faith
protestantism
creation
new-testament
heaven
satan
marriage
eschatology
denomination
mosaic-law
trinity
bible-translation
baptism
prophecy
calvinism
theology
sexuality
hell
paul-apostle
pneumatology
morality

That actually seems like a pretty good indication of what our site is about. The Bible and Jesus are, of course, fundamental to any discussion of Christianity, and those are the two largest tags. Beyond that, we see various religions and belief systems within Christianity, and most of the rest are either doctrinal subjects or specific parts of the Bible. It doesn't seem to me that there's much of a problem with our tags giving an unclear impression of what this site is for...

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I largely agree; ad-hoc tagging works surprisingly well. My main concern with the list above is that it indicates we are mostly about finding Truth and not about exploring the diversity of Christianity. And then there are the tags I listed, which I feel add little or nothing to questions. –  Jon Ericson Nov 29 '12 at 0:36
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I wish we could "tag" answers. So for example, if I want to answer a question based on Catholicism, Esoteric Christianity, Baptist, etc. I could answer in regards to that scope. Where as now, our answers can be argumentative should the question not ask for a specific scope. AND ALSO, answers (or questions for that matter) shouldn't be down voted just because your personal faith does not agree with the doctrine within the scope of the answer or question. But this is a problem with the community, not mods, typical users.

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