I've noticed with the latest fortnightly challenge that the majority of the puzzles being created are actually puzzles that are additionally being tagged with (the challenge topic)*. Now, I don't have an issue with this per se, but it was my impression that you should tag things with the best fitting tag, rather than just all appropriate tags.

There are lots of examples of these tag subsets (for example, you could argue: ; ; ; etc), which naturally arises when there is a broad category, having one subcategory significantly more common than others, and thus is worthy of its own tag.

To me, the logical usage that results, would be to use the most specific tag that is applicable and not the broader one, only using the broader one when it explicitly is not the specific one. Thus a chess problem should be tagged , but a backgammon problem should be tagged , and a puzzle that somehow incorporates both would be tagged +.

Now, I'm not proposing anyone re-tag anything, I'm just wondering what the consensus is on the best/most useful tagging approach. Ultimately, I guess my question is: When tagging a question, should you only select the most specific tags, or should you include the broader tags as well?

*As of writing, there are 6 entries to the fortnightly challenge, with 5 of them tagged . Notably two of them aren't actually tagged additionally with , which I don't have a problem with, and is arguably the more correct thing to do (i.e. allow board game related sub-tags to be included in the fortnightly challenge, without requiring actually tagging with the broader and redundant tag).


1 Answer 1


Including broad tags along with specific ones makes filtering content much easier. It is hard to imagine anyone wanting to search for, e.g., "all math puzzles except puzzles involving probability, combinatorics, arithmetic, geometry, number sequences, ...", whereas a search for "all math puzzles" seems quite reasonable. I think it makes sense to include all tags that could apply to a post.

  • $\begingroup$ I see your argument, but at the same time it feels very redundant, and certainly isn't how people are currently using the tags (eg. there's 113 chess puzzles, but only 6 also tagged board-games, 3 of which are from this fortnightly challenge. Similarly, only half of all probability questions are also tagged mathematics). $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Alconja If there's one thing I've learned from SFF, it's that the tagging system will never be made perfect. A balance needs to be struck between improving the tagging system by making lots of edits (e.g. adding the mathematics / board-games tags to all those questions you mention) and learning to accept that imperfection. See this SFF meta post for another case of 'subtags' which aren't always used together with the 'master' tag but should be. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor - totally agree about perfection (or the impossibility thereof), just want to make sure I'm doing things in as close to the ideal way as possible. I.e. if the community things the redundant broader tags are good, I can at least make sure I include them in the future. So this isn't necessarily about fixing the past, just improving/making consistent the future. $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ +1. Note that even with the mathematics tag applied to all maths puzzles, searching for "all math puzzles except puzzles involving probability, combinatorics, arithmetic, geometry, number sequences, ..." could still be done by putting [mathematics] -[probability] -[combinatorics] -[geometry] ... into the search box. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Alconja Arqade is another SE that deals with this. Some games have mods that become popular enough to get their own tags. I believe the consensus there is also "tag it with the base game as well as the mod tag". Other notable examples would include the sql tag on StackOverflow, star-trek on SFF, and password on Security.SE $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidStarkey Mods get their own tags? I can't wait to see an emrakul tag here :-P $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 16:32

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