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Introduction

This question is intended to be a collection of information on the tagging system, as it applies to Science Fiction & Fantasy. This includes information on how to tag, when to create tags, what to call them, and how to use them effectively.

Table of Contents

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  • Totally read that first bullet as "What are tags and why do we hate them?" – user31178 Jan 19 '16 at 4:13
  • Not sure if it's fixable but the order of the answers is not "correct" if your site sort settings go by "active". Perhaps strategic series of timed edits may fix that. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 19 '16 at 4:57
  • Wow. How had I not seen this before? Very impressive effort here! – Rand al'Thor Feb 23 '16 at 16:17
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What Are Tags and Why Do I Care?

The basic purpose of the Stack Exchange tagging system can be found in the help center for this (and every other) Stack Exchange site. If you haven't already, you should go read it. This meta.stackexchange question also has a lot of useful information.

That topic tells you a lot about the mechanics of tags, but not so much about the purpose of tags. That's what this post is about.


Tags are a feature of the Stack Exchange sites that allow us to quickly categorize questions into broad areas of interest, so that other users can quickly and easily find those questions that are of interest to them. They work a bit like tags on a typical blog site, and a bit like categories on a typical wiki site.

The goal of tagging is to give other users a way to decide if your question is something they know about or are interested in, so they can find and answer it more quickly. As such, having the right tags on a question is a key part in getting good answers.

Your choice of tags should be a reflection of the things your question is fundamentally about. It's not necessary to have a tag for every little detail -- that's unlikely to help you in the long run. Instead, you should try to ask yourself what parts of your question will be most important in getting an answer, and apply them. Other questions in this FAQ go into more detail about how to pick tags, and what makes a good tag vs. a bad one.

In addition to using them to bring attention to your question, you can also use tags to find questions from other users. There's a number of ways this works, and again, there is more information on these in other parts of this FAQ. But, briefly:

  • Each tag has it's own separate question list, showing all questions with that tag, which you can use to browse for questions of interest.
  • Each tag also has a tag wiki, which you can refer to for more information about a tag, and the topic if refers to; these are especially helpful for explaining how to use a tag.
  • The search box has special syntax for tags that, when used properly, can be more powerful than just a normal keyword search.
  • Your user profile can include lists of favorite and ignored tags, which changes how questions appear when you view the various question feeds on the site.
  • Each tag also generates it's own RSS feed, which you can subscribe to using any RSS viewer, and be notified as soon as new questions pop up.
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Tags! What Are They Good For?

Once the appropriate tags have been applied to questions, there's a lot of ways you can use them to find things of interest to you.

Tag Questions Page

For starters, ever time you look at a question, you can see at the bottom the list of tags the asker put on them. Tags appear like this at the bottom of the question's text when you're looking at a single question, or beneath the title when you're looking at any list of questions.

Tag under question title

You can also click on the button that says "TAGS" at the top of any page to see a list of all tags in the system, if you're just curious what kinds of topics we talk about here.

Tags are always displayed with a special formatting, like this: , that makes them stand out. Any time you see a tag like this, you can click on it to go directly to that tag's questions page.

Tag Question List

This page gives you a list of all questions that have that tag applied to them, which you can sort using the links across the top. You can also see, at a glance, how many such questions there are, and a little bit about the tag. (This is the tag wiki excerpt, which provides a quick summary of what the tag is about so you know when to use it.)

Favorites and Ignored Tags

Once you've found some tags that are of interest (or not of interest) to you, you can let the site know about them and it will change the way that questions are presented to you. There are two things you can do with tags this way: favorite tags, and ignored tags.

Favorite tags are ones where you're especially interested in seeing questions about them. You can add favorite tags (but not ignored ones) right from the sidebar on most pages on the site:

Favorite Tags Edit

You can also edit your favorite and ignored tags in your user profile. Click on your user picture at the top of the page, then go into your user profile/settings tab and select preferences:

Profile Preferences

Here you can add and remove favorites and ignored tags. You can also decide what to do with ignored tags: the can be hidden completely, or they can be displayed "dimmed out" so they are less noticeable. For example, suppose I had decided to favorite but ignore ; on the front page I might see this:

enter image description here

Searching

In the search box at the top of the page, you can type keywords and Stack Exchange will search for any questions and answers that include the search terms. Sometimes, though, this isn't exactly what you want: maybe there are too many results, or maybe some questions don't include the terms exactly as you typed them.

In these cases, you can use a special search syntax to only search the tags on a question, not the title or body. To do this, just type square brackets around the tag name, like:

[star-wars]

You can also search for questions that don't have a tag, if you know you're not interested in those questions, by using a minus sign. This is most useful if you want to search for a popular key word you know appears in a lot of questions in that tag, e.g.:

vampires -[twilight]

Email/RSS Feeds

One slightly advanced thing you can do with tags is "subscribe" to them. If you hover your mouse over any tag you see, you'll be presented with two options: subscribe and rss.

tag popup box

Subscribing to a tag will send you an email (by default once a day, but you can change it) with a list of all new questions in that tag. Clicking on rss will give you an link to use with any RSS Feed program to see new questions in real time.

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  • TY for including "search"! Much appreciated! – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 19 '16 at 4:58

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