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One of the things that's confusing about tags is that tags are tools to help people find questions they can answer. This means that there can be situations where the two tags accomplish the same purpose, even though the definitions of the words used in the tag name may be slightly different.

This site has four tags--, , , and --that should be combined into two tags: and . Even though the words rudeness, politeness, etiquette, and courtesy have different definitions, these tags are being used for two categories of questions, not four. Let's take a look at some of the questions in each tag to get a better idea of what's going on.

Rudeness

  1. How to tell someone that they are eating with their mouth open? -- This is a question about someone doing rude, e.g. "eating with their mouth open". However, the actual question asked--how can I politely ask my girlfriend's mother to stop chewing with her mouth open.
  2. Should I monetarily reward the person who found my phone? -- this question doesn't actually need the rudeness tag: it's just about what to do in a certain situation. Nobody is being rude here, the OP is not specifying that they need to be polite, etc.
  3. How do I continue to be quiet without being rude? -- the OP assumed that they were being rude by being quiet, but that assumption isn't necessarily correct. The actual question is about how to improve and be more polite. (This question should be closed because the OP hasn't given enough information for us to give them good advice, but that's an issue for another day).
  4. Is it rude to post on an English site when my English needs a lot of improvement? -- asking if something is rude.

Politeness

  1. Should I always ask a dog owner before I pet their dog? -- this is just a question asking about what someone should do. It's not clear how politeness enters the equation, this is a question about what to do, not how to do something politely.
  2. How can I ask a possible long-lost relative to prove his identity? -- how to ask someone to do something (confirm their identify) politely.
  3. How do I decline conversation in my native language? -- how to do something politely.

Etiquette

  1. How do I decline conversation in my native language? -- also tagged with politeness. This is a question about what someone should do in a certain situation. One definition of etiquette is a set of rules about what to do in social situations.
  2. Is it rude to offer my seat up on public transit to someone who is much older than me but not yet a senior? -- about what to do in a certain situation.
  3. Arguing science with a passionate non-scientist? -- about what to do in a certain situation.
  4. Inquiring about a colleague's retirement plans without seeming to be rude? -- about how to do something politely.

Courtesy

  1. How can I politely make an offer on a used vehicle? -- this is about how to do something politely.
  2. Inquiring about a colleague's retirement plans without seeming to be rude? -- about how to do something politely
  3. Does a greetings card require a return in kind? -- a question about what to do in a certain situation.

Conclusion

Looking at these questions, I see two categories of questions, not four:

  1. Questions about how to be polite, how to do something politely, and what the polite thing to do is.
  2. Questions about how to do something by following social norms.

The first category deserves one tag: . The second category deserves another tag: .

Let's do a cleanup and merge these tags.


Someone argued that should, in theory, be used for questions about interacting with people who are rude. That of course is not how is being used, and trying to get people to change how they use a certain tag is a lost cause: people don't read tag wikis and won't respond to your attempts to edit questions and get people to change their usage. (I've seen people spend days on this and it never works). The other problem with this is that a tag for dealing with rude people already exists: it's . We're already using ; let's make things simple and keep using it.

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  • "tags are tools to help people find questions they can answer". They are also used, in high volume sites like this one (or for example Super User SE) so that the user can focus on particular areas of interest (regardless of trying to learn, ask a question or write an answer), rather than have to feed through every question. So it becomes a balancing act. Too specific and relevant topics will be missed. Too broad and you risk losing the users interest. – user3169 Sep 9 '17 at 17:45
  • You might add to your question the quantity of questions to date using the tags mentioned (understanding that some will be used together). – user3169 Sep 9 '17 at 17:48
  • @user3169 "Too specific and relevant topics will be missed. Too broad and you risk losing the users interest." tags are not broad or narrow. Tags are either useful or not useful. A tag being broad or narrow is not in itself a bad thing. It depends on the context. Let's use an imaginary tag "software-development" as an example. On a site about software development, a software development tag is not useful, because all of the questions are about software development; the tag doesn't help people find questions. On this site, a software-development tag is also not useful, but for a different... – user288 Sep 9 '17 at 18:07
  • ...reason. When answering a question about interpersonal skills, the fact that the question involves software development is probably not relevant. What would be relevant is whether the question is about online collaboration, or about interaction in the workplace, etc. If a question was about the workplace, that would require different qualifications to answer than a question about online collaboration. So such a tag is not useful. But software-development is the same tag, it's just that the context of the site makes it useful or not useful. – user288 Sep 9 '17 at 18:15
  • Also, I think there's a pretty good argument that etiquette is a meta tag that isn't very useful, because a huge portion of these questions about about what someone should do in a situation. But it's hard to talk about etiquette being a meta tag when the tagging is such a mess here. – user288 Sep 9 '17 at 20:43
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    Maybe etiquette could be re-named to something like formal-etiquette or traditional-etiquette if we want it specifically to be about well-established social conventions from particular cultures. – 1006a Sep 11 '17 at 15:03
  • It would be clearer if you put [tag] brackets around the tags in the title, like in SO burnination puns. – wizzwizz4 Sep 20 '17 at 15:47

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