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One of the things Stack Exchange has discovered is that meta tags are a bad idea—enough so that when Jeff Atwood wrote a blog post about them, he titled it The Death of Meta Tags.

In short: they're useless, because:

  • no one ever browses by or searches for them
  • they don't tell you anything about the question itself.

I was recently looking through the site, and I saw several questions tagged . I'm pretty experienced with SE sites, and I could not tell what this tag was supposed to mean.

  • Did it mean that these were now community-wiki questions?
    No, because none of them were.
  • Did it mean that someone wanted these questions made community-wiki?
    No, because the way to do that is flag them and ask, and no one had.
  • Would it be useful for searching for community-wiki questions?
    No, because the way to do that is by searching on wiki:1.

To get to the point: this tag told me nothing about the questions, and wouldn't be useful for browsers/searchers in the future. That made it a meta tag, and meta tags have to go.

I've removed the tag from those questions.

If you have any questions about meta tags in general, I highly recommend the blog post I linked at the beginning of this question.

If you have any questions about community wikis, or the process by which questions become community wiki, I recommend:

Thanks for your cooperation with this!

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    While I'm not fully convinced that all meta-tags are evil, the CW tag was obviously pointless, and I think it's a good thing that you removed it. Can the tag also be deleted (to discourage people from using it)? – Boaz Yaniv Jun 17 '11 at 12:50
  • @Boaz, yeah, kind of. tags can be blacklisted. – YOU Jun 17 '11 at 14:17
  • @YOU: I know blacklisting, but it might be kinda drastic. I'm just having problem with "community-wiki" appearing in the tag list while although questions are associated with. It's also on the auto-complete because of that, which is an encouragement (although a very minor one) to use it. – Boaz Yaniv Jun 17 '11 at 14:41
  • @Boaz, Ah I see, I missed your point. Thanks. – YOU Jun 17 '11 at 14:44
  • @Boaz: If I understand it correctly, a tag will disappear from the completion list after it is no longer used. It takes some time before the update takes place. – Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 18 '11 at 14:12
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Update: Part of the previous revision was unnecessarily harsh, and I rewrote the reply completely.


First, thank you for bringing this issue on meta. I had been thinking that the tag was confusing and better avoided.

That said, it would have been better if you considered there was some reason why this tag was used in the first place and asked why, instead of assuming that the tag must be meaningless. It looks obvious to me that the user who added this tag did so because he/she considered that the question should be made community-wiki. There are several possible reasons why he/she did not flag the question for the moderator attention.

For the record: the questions which had this tag were (thank you to Dori and Troyen for the information):

  • @Dori: I guess I am wasting time teaching this to you, but the tag was obviously added because someone wanted those questions to be made community-wiki. If you cannot imagine why the user who added this tag did not flag the question, I have nothing to say to you. – Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 17 '11 at 4:32
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    While i agree with dori that this tag may not have had any usage. I too would have preferred if you didn't just go ahead and delete all the tags, and instead post which questions were tagged here as such so that i can come to the same conclusion. By just going ahead and deleting the tags, you've removed the whole aspect of this being a discussion. As you basically just said why you were doing something and did it before anyone could chime in. – Mark Hosang Jun 17 '11 at 4:50
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    I also don't think that ito's comment was rude. Forceful, yes maybe, but then again english isn't his native language so i give him the benefit of the doubt. YOUR response on the other hand was incredibly uncalled for and has thus ignited this flame war. One to consider is that their are people like Ito and myself who may not have known about the activity page and thought that that data was gone. – Mark Hosang Jun 17 '11 at 4:52
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    @Mark @Tsuyoshi Guys, it's on the edit history. Removing the tag bumped the threads to the front. It was these three questions. – Troyen Jun 17 '11 at 5:35
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    Or rather, retagging always bumps a thread to the top of the question list. (One of those questions seemed invisible, but that's because it had -6 votes and was closed, so you wouldn't have noticed unless you were on the actual question list instead of just the main page.) – Troyen Jun 17 '11 at 5:43
  • @Mark: It is true that I had not thought about the activity page and thought that the information was gone. But I chose strong words knowing that they might be harsh, and I should not have done that. I rewrote the reply. – Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 17 '11 at 12:41
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    The users who added the community wiki tag may very well had good reasons for not just flagging the post (they I wouldn't know them :)), but I think a tag is still the wrong place for that - you could always add a comment. Tags are useful for categorizing things, and categorizing questions that "someone thought they should be made community wiki by didn't want to flag them" is just not very helpful. – Boaz Yaniv Jun 17 '11 at 13:01

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