When I've got power, I like to use it (insert evil laughter), so since I got to 2500 reputation, I went looking into the tag synonym feature.

Okay, so, I can create them just fine, but it looks like it takes quite a few votes for them to actually go "live". This seems pretty tedious for obvious synonyms (e.g., second-curtain and rear-curtain). And there's things like filter and filters just sitting there waiting for votes.

I presume the site moderators can short circuit this? Should the site moderators do so? (And should they be bugged about it here on meta?) Is the problem that we don't have enough privileged users (under twenty, right now), and it'll all be okay once the site gets going a bit more? Is the problem that those twenty users are all horribly lazy and not doing their jobs? (*cough*)

Or is it not a problem at all and maybe I should just relax a little bit?

So.... many.... questions......!

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've approved some of the internationalisation issues (seems there is a consensus for color over colour), which should force them through. I've also approved the synonyms I'd suggested last month, which I would've expected to auto-approve, but there you go... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 13:45

2 Answers 2


tl:dr Rule nazis stifle the growth of our small community. Relax. :-)

My observation (for what it's worth) is that with a large site there needs to be an active 'rule management team' within the community that worries about things like tags, synonyms, duplicates, subjective questions, etc. because with a lot of users the level of noise to signal can get so large than the noise eventually kills the community by:

  • turning away both new users who can no longer find good information easily
  • annoying long-time, but less vocal users who just leave and don't come back.

This potentially leaves a withered community of JUST 'rule nazis' who spend a lot of time trying to devise a system that handles every exception perfectly without human intervention, but stops helping the users. P.S. Those people need to go see Tron: Legacy. ;-)

With a small site (like photo.se.com) in many ways the problem is the opposite one... If we as 'more experienced' users over-manage things and become 'rule nazis' in the name of:

  • not cluttering things up
  • building the perfect resource
  • lets just do it the right way now so we don't have to change things later
  • your spelling and grammar SUCKS! (I'll totally own that last one. :-/ )

it can end up turning away new users, which will ultimately stifle our growth.

Purely my opinion here (and I'm relatively new as well, so... grain of salt, I guess) but I think there are a few users (and I'm one of 'em) who could stand to relax a little with some of the attempts at rule-making and perfection-seeking... I think it's premature at best.

At this stage we need all the participants we can get our hands on in order to reach some level of critical mass, and if that means sometimes:

  • we gently and politely guide new users to the answer they're seeking from the duplicate question the just asked (instead of crushing their spirits with snarky as*hole comments and downvoting them into oblivion)
  • tolerate a question here or there that might be a bit on the subjective side
  • getting cranky about non-optimal tag usage
  • berating poor grammar and spelling (instead of quietly editing things behind the scenes... Again, I'll own the guilt on this one and am personally just shutting up and editing quietly now that I have the rep to do-so)

then so be it. While the overall goal is to make 'the best community possible,' I think it is much better for this small community for us to simply relax a little bit, handle what we can quietly behind the scenes, let some things that are 'marginal' go (I'm NOT talking about ignoring egregious problems), and being more welcoming in general.

My .02 cents worth. Now go ahead and flame me into oblivion... I've got an asbestos suit on! ;-)

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I almost put this in, but figured that it was a bit too 'movie nerd,' but I just can't resist dropping it in a comment: "Hey man, as the more experienced users in the photo.se.com community, we need to be more 'Jeff Bridges: The Dude,' and less 'Jeff Bridges: Tron Legacy era Clu,' man." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 20:56
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I hear you. :) But the beauty of tag synonyms is that they happen automatically once defined. Not only is this less work for the "rule nazis", it's less intrusive for the new visitors as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the bit of perspective here is that we have a grand total of 770 tags (by way of comparison, Stack Overflow has 28,941). For the most part tag synonyms seems like a potential solution to a MUCH bigger problem than we have... and the level of attention that it gets from those who have the power to propose synonyms and vote on their adoption probably reflects the fact that there are other 'better' things they're spending their time on. Again, my comments aren't designed to offend... Only to offer my .02 cents worth. :-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 21:09

Well, tag synonyms is a pretty advanced function that most sites don't need to deal with until they're quite mature.

But, if you guys are so advanced for your age :) then you can flag relevant posts for moderator attention and indicate "hey, let's merge this with the tag synonym" and provide the hyperlink so it's easy to click through.


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