The problem

We have a lot of one word tags that make nearly no sense. Among them are , , , , , , & . They are pure gems of uselessness and I urge you to prove me wrong and provide any value these tags might add.

My suspicion is that some of those tags came into being by someone simply typing something regarding his question in the tags field. Winterfest motto, did they like it? This translates with the standard mechanism into shitty tags. It dumps all symbols but letters and dashes and creates tags from the rest. Typing in, What's this field actually for? results in this:

The root of all evil

I call this drive-by tags. Everyone above 300 reputation can create those. We are approving edits for another 1.700 reputation points, or 850 up votes. There is no further requirement for the creation of the tag. I think this is a problem and part of the reason we have 943 tags. There are many reasons why a low reputation hurdle to create tags and I don't want to increase the needed reputation.

The suggestion

Make at least suggesting a tag wiki excerpt mandatory for new tags.


  • The person posting will notice in case of inadvertent creation.
  • The person posting the question has to use at least a minuscule amount of thought to provide a meaningful description, discouraging ill-thought-out tags.
  • Tag wiki excerpts go in the review queue, stopping useless tags in their tracks.


  • SE is in its core a Q&A site, this potentially complicates posting questions. This would be doubly important network-wide. However, when implemented just for ELU, the site maturity and scope will make that highly unlikely. Either way, it just adds a little hurdle.

Alternative suggestion

Another idea would be simply new tags in a (new) review queue. New tags would pop up to be reviewed by moderators or users with sufficient reputation. How would one review a featureless tag like it?

That's not too easy. However, the inadvertent drive-by tags could just be re-tagged in their tracks.

Alternatively, alternatively new tags could be put through a voting process similar to close votes.

  • Don't single-use tags get deleted automatically? How many questions are tagged with these apparently random words? I wouldn't think there are a lot.
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 21:53
  • @suməlic Not right away, if that were the case no one could create tags. Most of those mentioned tags have 1-4 associated questions.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 6:44
  • Winterfest should be a synonym of Winterbash. @suməlic Tags are removed when they have no questions associated with them (it's a clear-up process, though, and won't be immediate).
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 9:33
  • I'll ask before and I'll ask again: who actually uses tags on EL&U? Are we spending a lot of time optimizing a distraction? I understand the value of tags on an enormous site with a lot of orthogonal subdisciplines like SO, but I honestly don't see the value of investing in such a taxonomy on ELU. The only time I personally find tags useful on EL&U is when searching for dupes or muting topics I find uninteresting.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 16:44
  • @DanBron I can't speak for other people and a comment on a question of mine with an accepted answer will not get a lot of attention from other people.
    – Helmar
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 11:55

1 Answer 1


There are a number of features to help keep the new tag count down.

  1. You can see what tags have been created recently by going to Tags > New.

Only 9 tags have been created since August 8th. There are 73 questions tagged with these tags, but if you exclude (which is the product of organized community tagging), there are only 35. (34 if my one edit gets approved.)

  1. You can eliminate a tag by editing it out. Once nothing is tagged with it, it gets automatically deleted.

If we assume that all of the newest 8 tags (excluding ) are bad, it wouldn't take any time at all to retag all of them, even if they are all edited for grammar and such.

However: after revisiting this with more experience on this site, I'm not sure I would discard all these tags as useless. Guess what word most questions use? Now try and find questions about that word. It doesn't need urgently need a tag wiki because you know what it is.

Also note that we now warn people about new tag creation with a popup like this:

  • Point 2 invalidates your analysis. Since tags that have been edited out are deleted. Thus, you don't know how many tags there were in the meantime.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 20:50
  • The Portuguese tag for example had caught on in the meantime and had to be edited from another question: data.stackexchange.com/english/revision/542816/686618
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 20:51
  • Unfortunately the structure of that table makes me unable to easily provide a proper analysis of tags that have been created and are not in use anymore. Suffice to say that the tag id column reached 2253.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 21:00
  • Furthermore, as creator of the money tag, I can assure you, there is no such warning.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 21:04
  • "This feature is currently enabled on Stack Overflow, Server Fault, Super User, Unix & Linux, Mi Yodeya, Ask Ubuntu, Physics, Sound Design, Pets, and Mathematics." Although I have no clue, why it's not active on ELU...
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 21:12
  • I created a feature request to activate it on ELU: meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/9482/…
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 21:21

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