We have a number of tag groups, mostly for tagging the cultural background of a question, where the cultural aspects have different scopes, different levels of granularity, that causes the tags in that group to overlap.

What should our usage guidance (the tag wiki excerpt) be for these tags? How do we help our users how to choose the most appropriate tag?



An example is the location. If a querant lives in Amsterdam, a lot of locational tags can apply that may or may not be relevant:


The same goes for religion, for instance is a branch of which itself is a part of , an .

I'm sure other examples exist, but I'll use location here.

We can't use the whole range of tags, from city to continent. So we want the OP (or subsequent editors) to choose the relevant tag, the one with the appropriate scope. How can we craft our usage guidance to tell our users to do so?

Ideally, I think we want something like

Use this tag if {$location} is relevant to the question. Please consider the appropriate scope.

How exactly do we word this?

I think we need to add a line indicating what we mean by "appropriate scope".

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  • This is why we need tag hierarchy. :P meta.stackexchange.com/questions/223400/… – Catija Aug 25 '17 at 18:38
  • In writing the tag excepts one thing to remember is to avoid definition and focus on usage guidelines. Safe definitions for the tag wiki as much as possible. Disambiguation can require partial definition, such as georgia could be the country in Europe or the state in USA. – Chindraba Aug 25 '17 at 19:01
  • Possible duplicate of Should we be using the Europe tag? – curiousdannii Aug 27 '17 at 7:25
  • @curiousdannii not in the slightest. This question asks how we should formulate our usage guidance for tags that have overlap with other tags. We should tell our users how to choose the tag to use. – SQB Aug 27 '17 at 7:56
  • Well the problem is you're discussing tags which shouldn't exist. – curiousdannii Aug 27 '17 at 8:34

We don't use location tags here, we use culture tags

As I wrote elsewhere culture really exists as a fractal. We will occasionally have questions which validly are scoped to a continent-wide culture, and sometimes we'll have questions which are scoped to a very narrow subculture (including particular internet subcultures.) But I suggested that by default the general granularity we would see would be a country-language culture combination. For various reasons, most countries have developed distinct cultures over their histories, and as most questions on this site are conversation related, languages make sense as a default scope.

For predominantly mono-lingual countries, it's simplest just to use the country name as a tag. For multi-lingual countries, it will probably be helpful to specify both the country and language, so for example, french-switzerland and german-switzerland. (The Swiss may prefer to use their own endonyms like Romandy, but that's a discussion to be had when it arises.)

If we get many questions about some particular culture which is specific to Amsterdam, then it would be appropriate to use both tags, amsterdam and the-netherlands, but only if it is about a subculture which is genuinely unique to amsterdam and also is known as the Amsterdam Culture, rather than some other name. But if we get only a couple of questions about that culture, then it doesn't warrant a tag! Religion tags are probably not likely to be used too frequently here, but they could be appropriate in Ireland for example. In that case, the specific religious categorisations should not be used, but instead the cultural categorisations: Catholic and Protestant.

As far as the tag wikis, considering that most of the tags you raised should not exist, we don't really need to worry about it. For the country tags, I would recommend that they explain that they are for questions in that country and the dominant language of that country. Continent level tags should say that they are only to be used for the rare questions about cultures which are genuinely continent-spanning, and are not to be used with a country level tag.

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Since the tag excerpts are intended to be for usage guidance and it's desirable for users to get answers that best for the cultural context of their situation, without being too specific, I think it's a good idea to offer a higher level of domain but not a lower level. As examples, try these.

Use this tag if you need answers from a viewpoint that includes the culture and beliefs of Calvanism. If appropriate, consider using or instead for a broader viewpoint.

Use this tag if you need answers from a viewpoint that includes the culture and beliefs of Protestantism. If appropriate, consider using instead for a broader viewpoint.

Use this tag if you need answers from a viewpoint that includes the culture of Altlant, Georgia. If appropriate, consider using or or instead for a broader viewpoint.

Georgia, state in USA. Use this tag if you need answers from a viewpoint that includes the culture of Georgia. If appropriate, consider using or instead for a broader viewpoint.

Georgia, country in Europe. Use this tag if you need answers from a viewpoint that includes the culture of the country of Georgia. If appropriate, consider or instead for a broader viewpoint.

Use this tag if you need answers from a viewpoint that includes the culture of the southern USA. If appropriate, consider tag instead for a broader viewpoint.

These are, of course, only samples, and we can update tag excerpts as needed. For example, if doesn't exist when is created, it can be left out of the excerpt, and be added whenever it's needed.

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    As a note "USA" isn't a tag. It's "united-states". – Catija Aug 25 '17 at 20:23
  • "usa" is a tag synonym for "united-states" and does automatically change, so there's that. – NVZ Aug 25 '17 at 20:25
  • @Catija since I'm on mobile, would you care to make the needed edits? – Chindraba Aug 25 '17 at 20:25
  • Actually, I made it a synonym, so it's still a valid link, even if the text is wrong. – Catija Aug 25 '17 at 21:35

Just a thought, but wouldn't the tag description for read something like:

Amsterdam is a city in the Randstad megalopolis located in the northern Netherlands...

Honestly I don't see why people would need to be this specific with their location tagging, but if a specific city tag were created the tag description should probably point to where that city is, negating the need for further location tags.

The same should probably work for religion tags and other more granular tags. If it's a specific grain of something that already has a tag, it would be logical to have that noted in the tag description.

I think the usage guidance should be something to the effect of:

Please limit your question's scope by using one location tag only. There's no need to use all tags that apply to your location. If your question is about the same situation in multiple locations, consider asking separate questions.

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  • What I mean is that I'd like the usage guidance to encourage users to find the right level, the right scope. – SQB Aug 25 '17 at 16:21
  • @SQB the right scope will depend upon where the cultural lines change in that given part of the world. For instance the US is pretty homogenized so just using the united-states tag makes sense, but the same may not hold for other countries, so a regional tag may be more fitting. – apaul Aug 25 '17 at 16:25
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    @SQB I have a hard time picturing a case where a specific city tag would be necessary though. – apaul Aug 25 '17 at 16:26
  • @SQB I would guess that in most cases how the user self identifies their location is sufficient. For instance if a user used the much maligned Europe tag, or the slightly more specific western-europe tag they're probably open to any answer from those perspectives. – apaul Aug 25 '17 at 16:32
  • I'm not looking to discuss what levels are needed; my question is when we have those tags (for instance, both poland and europe), what should our usage guidance read? – SQB Aug 25 '17 at 16:35
  • @SQB Ah, see edit. – apaul Aug 25 '17 at 16:42
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    I think the description should read "if your question involves broader culture, please use [europe] tag instead of this tag". People don't know what tags are available (including me) and can be overwhelmed by the choices. Giving them suggestion what tag to use instead will help them to choose. – Vylix Aug 25 '17 at 17:34

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