It is a deliberate decision in establishing a new SE that the reputation required to create a tag is set lower than on a full site. This enables the load of building a new community to be shared evenly.

The instructions finish with Please create new tags responsibly!

  • We now have 250 tags applied to 333 questions.
  • 118 tags have been used on 1 question each.
  • More than 50% of the multi-use tags have no entry in the tag wiki.

If the system isn't already irrevocably broken, it soon will be.

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5 Answers

I know that we cannot make new rules that are incompatible with the overall SE ethos, but we can try to set some norms for the expected behaviour in our community.

I suggest the following. If you create a new tag, then you should immediately write at least a first draft of the wiki for that tag, before you use it.

This has a number of advantages for the person asking the question. It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate that you have carried out genuine research into the question that you are asking before posting on SE. Or, if you feel that you are not sufficiently knowledgeable to contribute to the wiki, it gives you an opportunity to reflect on whether you know enough about the topic to be certain that the proposed new tag is appropriate. Perhaps with a little more consideration, you can find an existing tag that is just as descriptive of your question.

Adopting this practice can also help other users of the site prioritise their activity. For example, I could determine that time and effort that would otherwise be required salvaging tags should be devoted to answering the new question.

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A second proposal (Fear not, I do not have ten.)

Whenever you select an existing tag from the options offered for your question, check whether it has anything in the wiki. If not, please consider contributing a draft.

Do not be concerned that your contribution will not be appropriate to stand forever as the definitive statement of that tag's meaning. All you need to do is to trigger the edit reflex in other users. There is no human urge more powerful than the desire to alter someone else's writing. As soon as you have placed some black marks in that daunting white space, others will rush to correct what they see as your ignorance. SE provides a review system to prevent gross errors, but we need someone to kick off the process.

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Another proposal: If there's nothing more pressing for you to do, take ten minutes to review the lightly-used tags with a view to defining the easy ones (for example, many are simple geographic tags that won't take a lot of work) or better still, editing the questions so-tagged to reduce the proliferation.

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...and proposing synonyms (if you can) and flagging utterly useless tags for burnination. –  American Luke Dec 11 '12 at 0:57
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Most of the geographic tags seem reasonable, at this stage there's often only one question about the more obscure locations. I don't see a problem with (for example) a "selkirkshire" tag being used only once, nobody else has yet asked a question about it.

As an aside, I see many people (mostly Americans) are using a city name tag without state and country, or state without country (not clear which, in the case of "new york"). There really needs to be a country tag if you're specifying a geographic location. There's more than one Boston, Georgia, etc.

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I don't think the problem is creating worthless tags. I think the problem is not using tags correctly.

I went through the entire list of tags, paying close attention to those with one question, and found very few worthless tags.

I suggest we pay closer attention to tags on questions and ask ourselves, "If I were searching for this question, what are the top 5 words or phrases I would search for?" If we do that then our tags list will naturally reflect our site's content better than it does now.

I also think consistency would help. A good example are the different tags about records.

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