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EDIT: see the Jeff Atwood's comment below. Should we just kill this tag? I think so. Please weigh in.


For the highly-used but poorly specified tag, I proposed the following tag wiki.

Photos can't be taken without equipment, so this is implied for most questions — tagging them with this isn't really useful. Identify the specific type (but not necessarily exact brand/model) of equipment instead.

+

Questions which deal with artistic or business aspects of photography don't benefit from lacking this tag: they can stand on their own merits.

for the tag wiki, and this was rejected by a moderator. I understand that the dis-recommendation might be a bit controversial without discussion — but I still think this is a pretty weak tag and stand by the suggestion.

What do you think? I'm particularly interested in hearing from people who think that this is a useful tag at all, because maybe there's something I'm not seeing.

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I'm taking my guidance on what to put in the tag wikis from Jeff Atwood's blog post on the redesigned tags page. To quote the relevant bit:

Here’s a few words of advice on writing tag wiki excerpts:

  1. The excerpt is the elevator pitch for the tag. You only have ~500 plain text characters for the excerpt, so don’t feel obligated to cover everything in it! Save that for the 30,000+ character Markdown tag wiki. The excerpt should define the shared quality of questions containing this tag — boiled down to a few short sentences.
  2. Avoid generically defining the concept behind a tag, unless it is highly specialized. The “email” tag, for example, does not need to explain what email is. I think we can safely assume most internet users know what email is; there’s no value in a boilerplate explanation of email to anyone.
  3. Concentrate on what a tag means to your community. For “email” on Server Fault, mention the server aspects of email including POP3, SMTP, IMAP, and server software. For “email” on Super User, mention desktop email clients and explicitly exclude webmail, as that would be more appropriate for webapps.stackexchange.com.
  4. Provide basic guidance on when to use the tag. In other words, what kinds of questions should have this tag? Tags only exist as ways of organizing questions, so if we don’t provide proper guidance on which questions need this tag, they won’t get tagged at all, rendering the tag excerpt moot. Think of it as a sales pitch: in a room full of tags screaming “pick me!”, what would convince a question asker to select your tag?

and on the followup question I asked here on meta, where Jeff replied:

Still, I do think it's important in both cases to begin with "what does this tag mean to your community" first, as in:

which questions should have this tag, and why?

Several of my edits may not score high on short-elevator-pitch — I'm not quite as wordy as jrista, but I'm up there. But I don't think that's a good reason to reject a first pass at making a tag wiki.

But following #2 above, I don't think it'd be useful at all to say "equipment is camera gear". We know what equipment is, I hope. So I focused on guidance for when the tag should be used....

Which comes down to what I guess is the real problem I see here. This is a poor and unhelpful tag. I think there's a pretty strong argument for just banning it. Questions should either be tagged with the more-specific equipment type ([e.g. , ) or else the concept of what is to be done with it (e.g. ).

  • it is precisely the point of this exercise to discover that some tags, well, shouldn't really be tags. So I support this conclusion. – Jeff Atwood Mar 31 '11 at 6:14
  • @Jeff Atwood: awesome. So how do we kill it, along with synonyms "gear" and (british) "kit"? It'd be ideal if people who tried to use it were cheerfully greated with a message like the tag wiki excerpt I proposed ("please be more specific"). – mattdm Mar 31 '11 at 14:14
  • Kit is problematic itself because to brits it means "gear" and to Americans it means "stuff sold as a bundle". We've got about half and half of each. (Although some of them could be kit-lens.) – mattdm Mar 31 '11 at 14:17
  • @matt once you have consensus, ping me and I can press the magical "this tag never existed" button. regular tag merges can be done by any diamond moderators. – Jeff Atwood Mar 31 '11 at 22:15
  • @mattdm ...like me or @jrista or @chills42... For the record, I completely agree with your conclusions in this answer. – Rowland Shaw Apr 1 '11 at 18:37
  • I also agree with the assessment. So, out of curiosity, did a merger already take place? The equipment tag is now devoid of any related questions. Did we just drop the tag, or did someone manually go through and retag questions with the appropriate specific-gear tags like [tripod] or [lens]? – jrista Apr 2 '11 at 0:02
  • Roland Shaw did something, wiping the tag off of a bunch of posts (which made them end up on the front page). I manually added new tags to a few of them that seemed obvious. – mattdm Apr 2 '11 at 0:12
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I think I may have been the one to reject this (can't say for sure...LOT of tag wiki updates lately.) If it was me, then my thinking behind the rejection was because its more of a description of use, not really a wiki in the sense that I think tag wikis should be. I also reject tag wiki edits on SO when they are "Don't use this for X, Y, and Z! It pissed me off!"...which occurs more than you might think.

A better approach to correcting and guiding proper use of a tag might be to place a link to a proper discussion here on meta in the tag wiki. That allows the wiki to actually describe the meaning behind the tag, rather than rules for its use. The rules for use can then reside here in meta, which I think is the proper forum for such things. I think that, in the long run, will be more useful to people browsing the site. Hopefully, with a useful wiki, tags like [equipment] will actually become better used, as people can simply point to it to see a tooltip that describes its meaning.

If it is a must, such as when a tag really does get abused, then maybe we need to discuss the tag more here on meta. It might be prudent to split the tag up, or change its wording, fix up tag aliases, etc. I think that can be an organic process that involves the invested members of the community, and does not necessarily need any moderator interaction or oversight. If you want to discuss the use or modification of tags, more power to ya.

If you disagree with my assessment of tag wikis, feel free to let me know. I do not know what the other moderators think about them, and there really has not been much in the way of discussions here on meta about how tag wikis should be written. It may be that we have divided set of opinions on what tag wiki's should be, and it needs to be discussed.

  • I'm gonna reply in an answer, since it's long-ish. – mattdm Mar 30 '11 at 11:36
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Regarding the rejection

Regarding the rejection of the tag wiki edit. It may have been unwarranted, however I don't remember the specifics. I do want to pipe up and say that for several days there, @mattdm was making a LOT of wiki edits, issuing a lot of moderator flags, etc. etc. There came a point when I only gave things a cursory glance and minor amount of thought before picking one of the two possible actions: Accept or Reject (or Valid/Invalid). Usually it was Accept/Valid, sometimes I accidentally clicked the wrong link.

Might be a good idea to take it a little slower, spend some more time, and put together final tag wikis up front, rather than racing through many "rough drafts" such that the mods can't address them all in a timely manner.

  • I freely admit to moments of obsession. :) – mattdm Apr 2 '11 at 0:11
  • There's always the third action — leaving them there for someone else, or for later. – mattdm Apr 2 '11 at 0:13
  • I rarely take action the first time I view something. I usually leave them for a while, so other mods (if its a mod-only thing) or other members can view and possibly take their own action before I take mine. I usually leave your stuff sitting around for at least a couple hours, sometimes days, before taking an action on it. – jrista Apr 6 '11 at 3:00

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