I am an active user on chemistry.SE and I've recently become interested in Earth Science and have started to participate over here as well. One of things I noticed whilst browsing around the site was the extremely large number of tags that we have, many of which are applied to very few questions. For comparison, on earthscience.SE there are 341 tags (including synonyms) and 1785 questions. Just under half of these tags are applied to five questions or fewer. On chemistry.SE we have 267 tags and 15064 questions with only 22 tags that have five or fewer questions.

Even on the first page of most popular tags there are several which seem like they could be merged or are poorly defined. For example:

and are essentially the same.

and are very similar.

seems very poorly defined. Most of the questions are about events in the Earth's past (which is a lot of Earth Science) but the tag guidance seems to be about the history of geology.

seems like a very vague tag.

is similarly vague.

Going to the end of the tag list there are a whole load of tags which are either complete junk, like , or seem far too specific to be of much use.

On chemistry.SE we have had quite a lot of discussions about tags and come up with quite a comprehensive post which you can read here. In particular, there is a guide for whether or not a tag may be worth creating.

Proposal: We should have a meta discussion about what to do with tags on this site. I am in favour of having an event like this where we spend some time clearing out tags and organising questions more effectively.


Tags about specific elements or compounds:

There are quite a number of tags about specific elements, compounds or generic entities. They seem very broad to me and at the moment are poorly defined and don't add anything to the question. Do we want to allow tags like this? If we do I feel that they need to have a very well defined scope, rather than just being a catch-all tag.

Currently we have:

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ These are actually useful. All of the carbon tags (methane, carbonate, co2, etc) can be unified to a single carbon-cycle tag maybe? Snow can be a synonym of meteorology. Oxygen, ozone and nitrogen, when in the context of atmosphere, can be tagged as atmosphere (or atmosphere chemistry?). Air should be synonym of atmosphere $\endgroup$ – Gimelist May 23 '16 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ Agree with @Michael on the idea of unifying all carbon-related tags into carbon-cycle. $\endgroup$ – plannapus May 24 '16 at 7:40

There seems to be a general agreement that a tag cleanup is a good idea so the next step is to establish a list of things that need doing.

Vote on these:

These synonyms have been proposed and are open for voting if you have the required rep.

Potential tag synonyms:

These are all up for debate but here is a proposed list of synonyms to start off:

Some more debatable ones:


Tags with very few usages

There are a lot of tags which have less than five uses on this site. This is partly understandable because the site is small and so we can expect these tags to grow in usage as the site grows. The problem with a lot of these tags is that they are either very specific or very vague. Most of them don't have any usage guidance and are not necessarily obvious from their name. We need to have a discussion about what to do with these tags. My thoughts are below as a starting point.

Tags that should be deleted:

These are only tags with a single usage, there are more which I haven't had time to go through yet.

Tags that have already been deleted (for reference):

, , , ,

  • $\begingroup$ All of those can easily go. No point in having them $\endgroup$ – Gimelist May 23 '16 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ I will start doing it stages. No point flooding the front page with edits. $\endgroup$ – bon May 23 '16 at 22:07
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    $\begingroup$ I don't really see why the fact that gis is overlapping with another SE site is a reason to get rid of that tag. algorithm is relevant to earth sciences (we had several discussions about that on meta). Other than these two I'd agree with the others. $\endgroup$ – plannapus May 24 '16 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ Unless we're declaring that GIS-related questions are off-topic here (which I'm pretty sure isn't the case) we should keep the GIS tag. I suggest a "modelling" tag that includes both "models" and "validation", and probably a few others. $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon May 24 '16 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ I added a description to the gsf tag wiki. I don't think this tag is too specific. $\endgroup$ – BHF May 24 '16 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ @BHF The description could do with being more detailed. At the moment I still don't really know what the tag is about and when I would want to apply it. $\endgroup$ – bon May 24 '16 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ I think it is obvious to apply the GFS tag with any question which deals directly with this model. $\endgroup$ – BHF May 25 '16 at 6:59

Tags about specific places/areas of the world:

There are a bunch of tags about areas of the world or countries. Tags about countries seem redundant to me because geology does not obey national boundaries and most of these tags have only one or two usages. Tags about important regions such as the Antarctic and Arctic are possibly useful but only if they have are well defined and have enough uses to be self-sustaining.

We currently have:

Tags that have been deleted:

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    $\begingroup$ I actually think some of them are useful: many geologists are specialist of a specific area. Of course country tags are meaningless but areas such as continents, massifs, oceans etc that are geologically well-defined are not. So for me it's yay on getting rid of tags such as germany or canada but nay on getting rid of tags such as tibetan-plateau, east-african-rift, pacific or antarctic. $\endgroup$ – plannapus May 24 '16 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ I would definitely keep Greenland because it plays a major/specific role in climate change research/discussions. $\endgroup$ – Jan Doggen Jun 16 '16 at 18:36

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