A common (well, twice, at least. I will become common if nothing is done) occurrence on new questions is the following:

  1. @blue removes some tags

  2. I ask why those tags are removed and @blue puts some (not always all) of them back.

I have also seen a lot of retagging edits by @blue. It seems that this user is under the impression that it is best if someone 'curates' the tags to keep things tidy.

I don't think this is a productive usage of time. First of all, 'mistakes' get made, which some user (e.g. me) can point out and we get a lot of edits. Second, questions get bumped to the front page without any good reason. Finally, the tag system was never meant to be a strict library catalogue. I think it works fine if we just leave it and only solve problems when they actually occur?

However, this is just my opinion. I'd like to hear what the community has to say about this, as I think that at least being clear on this would prevent a lot of unnecessary back and forth in the future.

Perhaps I should point to the famous comment by Robert Cartaino. Do note that this one can apply both ways, but at least I am talking about something that is actually happening.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you post some examples please? Bumping a lot of old posts to the front at once doesn't sound great, but I don't see anything wrong with spreading a few throughout the day $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Mar 30 '18 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Let me re-iterate what I said earlier. I normally remove only the tags which seem irrelevant to the site. And if any user comments or asks me in chat and/or gives me a good reason why they should be there I immediately put them back in. Just an effort to keep the site clean on my part. If others think that this behaviour is actively harmful, please give me some examples of some of the "harmful edits" I've made and I'll stop. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 30 '18 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Secondly, it is a way to avoid the potential effort the community would have to put in, in the future, to remove "bad" tags. Thirdly, I mostly edit only the new posts, and try to consult others before editing very old ones, so as to not bump too many old ones onto the main page. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 30 '18 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Oh, I'm aware of your motivations and goals. I just think that your methods are suboptimal. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 30 '18 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ The question that prompted this meta post is this: quantumcomputing.stackexchange.com/questions/1515/… $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 30 '18 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not going to link for an array of "edited by Blue" on the main page (some weren't that new, IMO, but whatever). I think this example makes it clear what is happening and why I would like to avoid it. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 30 '18 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ Oh and one more thing: Be aware that the interpretation of a downvote on this question is something like 'this isn't important'. If you disagree with my position, then you should specify this in an answer and vote on that one. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 30 '18 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ The initial edit there was indeed a mistake and I correct it as soon as the OP commented. Out of 10 cases it is possible that I make 1 or 2 mistakes. However, as I mentioned earlier, I always try to correct such mistakes at the earliest. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 30 '18 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Yes, but I'd rather not be the one running around after you to correct those mistakes. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 30 '18 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I'd encourage the others to point out any mistake I make, too. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 30 '18 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Nor would I advise it to be a good way to spend time for others... $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 30 '18 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Oh and you seem to have made an answer here. Care to post it so we can vote on it? $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 30 '18 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ It is our joint responsibility as a community to keep the site clean. Keep in mind that a error rate of ~10% is still a net gain. I'm slightly disappointed that you are attacking the 10% of the mistakes without any appreciation for the 90% of the useful edits. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 30 '18 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue The reason for this that I consider the 90% harmless at best and the 10% actively harmful. I'm afraid that your methods, if left unchecked, do more harm than good. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 30 '18 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ You've got some valid reasons for when mass tag editing is a bad idea, sure. However, in the example you linked, the original tags that were removed weren't good or even previously used tags, so should have been removed. Also, that question was new when edited. It would have been trivially better if @Blue put the correct tag in as well during that first edit, but considering how close the two edits were, I don't understand what the actual problem is. No-one managed to get the symbols right until several edits, so I don't believe that's the problem either - do you have any other examples? $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Mar 30 '18 at 22:06

As requested, let me explain why I think that the behaviour I describe does, if no one else does anything to clean up the mistakes, is actively harmful.

First, what are tags or what are they supposed to mean? This post Why do we tag questions? is relevant. However, this gives us no answer to whether the behaviour described is a bad idea or not.

For that, we have to look at this answer on How do I correctly tag my questions? :


Retagging a question is making any edit to a question that changes the tags.

  • Do not retag a question if you are not going to add value to the question information by doing so.
  • Do retag questions to use well-known and popular tags that are appropriate for the question.

Emphasis mine. Perhaps it is now clear why I was hesitant to be heavily motivating my concern, as it should be clear from this accepted part of the SE guidelines.

What I have seen is almost entirely is tags that remove tags and hence clearly not add value to the question information. If it does anything, it removes information!

Therefore, I think that this activity should be stopped, preferably voluntarily.

As for the 'but we'll get swamped with "bad tags" otherwise!' argument, no need to worry:

See here for how to deal with large amounts of "bad tags": How can we get rid of misspelled and unused (or "zombie") tags? . Note that the answer claims:

Note that you should probably seek consensus on the per-site meta before doing so, if the tag was somehow added to a significant number of questions


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