Since we're doing tag questions, I put the following idea in chat today:

may I throw out the suggestion of no longer tagging based on the problem, but on the skill that the problem is with?

It's already got three stars, but that doesn't say much since it can't be downvoted.

My proposal:

When possible, add a tag to your question that explains the skill you're struggling with. For dealing with angry people you could use 'de-escalation' for example, or 'conflict-aversion'. If your goal is to effectively compromise, use a tag called 'compromising' or something.

Looking at out most popular tags, I see a lot of location tags, and a whole lot of tags that can be used to describe the situation you're in. That isn't necessarily bad, power balances in interpersonal relationships need to be taken into account when answering a question, as well as culture (as far as that can be deduced from a location tag). But in the end, I only see and as actual 'skill' tags on the first tag page.

So, can we use more 'skill' or 'technique' tags?

  • Personally I don't see conflict-aversion as an interpersonal skill, it's more of an expression of a desired outcome. Unfortunately many situations require conflict so avoiding it is often counterproductive.
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 19:24
  • Well, it at least gives more of a focus than questions tagged family, netherlands, difficult-people, anger and online-interactions on a single question like 'my aunt got angry that I didn't congratulate my niece on facebook. How do I tell her to say this to my face instead of gossiping about it with mom?'
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 19:29
  • 4
    You're entirely correct! Interpersonal skills are generally transferable between situations with only a slight amount of modification. By having tags that focus on skills and their application rather then the specifics of a situation hopefully we can encourage people to ask questions that focus on how to effectively apply techniques, rather than how to get a particular outcome.
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 19:33
  • 1
    works for SO and TWP, why not?
    – user4548
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 19:40
  • This is a great idea actually. Conflict aversion, like sphennings said could fall under "desired outcomes", but I do think it can be considered a skill. We could use more such tags.
    – NVZ
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 12:27

2 Answers 2


yes, please

The usage of tags to indicate what interpersonal skills you look for in your question sounds like a very good idea, and is probably something we should aim for. Because as is, it is very confusing sometimes what the tags mean and why they were used on certain questions.

The only downside that I see is that sometimes, OP is asking for an and does not know himself which interpersonal skills he is asking about. Therefore he cannot add the correct IPS tags to his question. But IMO this is not a real problem, that is why we have the approach tag.

The transition from our current tag-usage to the suggested use will probably be a small struggle, as it is with every policy change. Totally worth it in this case, if you ask me.


no... if it's the only change we make

Though I think it's theoretically a great idea, I'm afraid it's gonna be complicated to implement it. If we go for it, we're gonna need a bunch of new tags that we're gonna need to explain and give explicit rules on how and when to use them.

My other concern is that people get confused on how to use tags on IPS. Though it's normal for a site to constantly evolve, I see many people struggling with the evolution of the rules (e.g. backing up answers). On the other hand, tags seem optional to me and aim at helping people find the question, so if OP doesn't know in which category their question falls, they can be helped by other users who would edit to add the appropriate tags. So I'd suggest: using tags either for context or for the targeted skills. And put it in the FAQ / make an announcement so that it's told to most users.

Reasons we shouldn't do it:

  • need for new tags to describe skills involved
  • need for a consensus on how to use the tags
  • need to inform users about the change

Points to consider if we still decide to go for it:

  • clear tags and tags description
  • consider choosing to use tags for only one purpose (context or skills)
  • thinking about a way (e.g. FAQ, pinned meta post, ...?) to inform IPS users about the change and vigilance on new posts for a while.

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