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This seems to be something that could very easily be coupled with Mark Trapp's idea for Structured Tag Clean-Up. In addition to identifying bad tags, we can also identify and prioritize good tags that have a bad tag description and tag wiki entry. There are a few questions about tag wikis, such as this one about including books. Of course, tag descriptions/wikis would be cleaned up with the tag (if the tag is actually potentially a good tag with bag questions), and good tags with good questions with poor descriptions and wikis might be a lower priority than getting rid of the bad tags, but I think it's something to talk about.

There is already some generic advice about tags and tag wiki pages on the Stack Overflow blog. I think that refining that guidance to be specific to this group of experts, along with an assessment of the quality of the tag and its questions would be helpful to maintaining a thriving community of people who are able to provide expert advice.

So perhaps kick off a discussion about what should (and should not) go into tag excerpts, descriptions, and wiki pages. Thoughts, comments?

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I search Meta Stack Overflow for structured guidelines on tag wikis recently and didn't find any. The only thing that comes close is the sticky note when editing a tag wiki1:

What are Tag Wikis?

The tag wiki excerpt is a brief plain text introduction to the topic that the tag represents. It is shown at the top of tag question lists, and as a tooltip wherever the tag appears. Complete this first!

The full tag wiki is a detailed introduction to the topic, suitable as a destination for those curious about it:

  • what questions should have this tag?
  • some basic definitions
  • brief introduction to the subject
  • important links for learning more
  • one reasonably sized page

See our advice on writing great tag wikis.

The link is to the blog post that introduced tag wikis, and it offers some vague advice.

When I'm editing the occasional tag wiki, I look at similar tags for inspiration, here and on Stack Overflow. What I end up with is usually:

  1. An introduction to the concept, adapted from the relevant Wikipedia article,
  2. A list of links to common resources,
  3. A list of highly voted and representative questions,
  4. A list of relevant sister sites.

An example is my very recent edit on the web-development wiki.

There are some tags that don't even have a wiki, and if something is a priority is those. Any tag wiki would be better than no tag wiki, especially for the more popular tags. An example is which has 222 questions currently and seeing how you are the tag's top user, this one is up to you :)

But seeing how new users continue to use and , when both their tag wikis say "Don't use this tag", I'll say not many actually read them. Informative tag wikis would be nice to have, but other than offering some basic guidance they don't really solve any actual problem.

And seeing how cleaning up is only halfway through, I'd say we already have our hands full as it is.

1 Posted here for completion's sake

  • Yeah. I read through the generic advice on MSO and the blog post. I should link to those in my question so that they are easily available. I also agree that we need to focus-fire efforts (career and software are getting hit hard now), but include not only question cleanups, but wiki cleanups in those efforts. I think that having a good set of tag descriptions and wikis would make it easier to maintain a clean set of tags for future use and provide something to point people toward, but also require the bad tags to be dealt with. – Thomas Owens Jan 22 '12 at 19:22
  • @ThomasOwens I think improving the wiki is implied on every tag cleanup, unless of course we decided the tag has to die. We can obviously include it on the cleanup guidelines, but I think that should be added as an answer to Mark's question. But coming up with structured guidelines is not that easy, the tag wiki for [java] is (or should be) way different from [scrum]. – yannis Jan 22 '12 at 19:31
  • @ThomasOwens Well, I see Mark concentrated the question on tags that need to die, so I guess it's not that obvious. But most cleanups result in appropriately retagging, so identifying alternatives is a part of them, and improving their wikis should be part of the process. – yannis Jan 22 '12 at 19:35
  • Valid points. However, I think it's a good idea to approach this from three ways. First, determine how important tag wikis and descriptions are. I think that it's less important than removing the tags that are bad, but where does it rank with other tag-related cleanups (misused tags, poor tag name choices, etc)? Second, what specific guidance should be provided to someone writing a wiki? Is there anything that they should contain? Or anything that they should not contain? How can make the generic suggestions more specific? Third, how do we identify, prioritize, and correct tag wikis? – Thomas Owens Jan 22 '12 at 21:27
  • @ThomasOwens I hope you're not expecting me to answer all that! I think you thought everything through and can really take point in this. You could xpand your answer on the tag cleanup question to include some suggestions on how to integrate tag wiki cleanup in the tag cleanup process, and perhaps post an answer here with your own approach for the community to evaluate. At the moment I'm a bit concentrated on getting the blog idea rebooted, and doing some ninja cleanups on [career]... – yannis Jan 23 '12 at 2:01
  • I'm not expecting you (or any individual) to answer all of those right now. They are just things that need to be thought through by the community. I consider this to be a separate issue from the tag cleanup, hence a different question. It's something that can, perhaps, be considered at the same time, but it's an entirely different problem. – Thomas Owens Jan 23 '12 at 9:02
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    Oh, I wasn't saying you dumped it on me, but I was kind of trying to dump it on you :) You should take point, write up the guidelines and post them as an answer, for the community to evaluate. I'm a bit disappointed with the community's participation so far, and I think especially now that we are a mod down, each of us should be a little bolder with such initiatives. – yannis Jan 23 '12 at 9:07

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