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We have a tag .

This seems to me likely to apply to so much that it describes very little...

The only use of it I can think of is to help people who are only interested in food topics, or are not at all interested in food topics, follow or ignore the tag.

For that to work, it needs to be applied to every question about food.

My personal opinion is that it's a meta tag and we should get rid of it in favour of more specific tags, but the site is small and slow enough that I'm fine with keeping the tag and applying it to every single question that's mainly about food.

Any thoughts?

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  • I don't think [food] is a meta tag. Meta tags describe opinions about questions, whereas [food] can properly describe the content of the question. Any lay observer should be able to easily distinguish between questions that are/aren't about food. – Nic Apr 12 '18 at 19:01
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As much as I love food, I am similarly skeptical of the value of .

It can help to distinguish veg*n food questions from non-food questions. Ethics, environmentalism, etc. questions would not get the tag. But that does mean that a significant percentage (~half?) of questions on our site should get , and then you're reaching a point when you're not really providing good "sorting" value by using that tag.

A potential compromise, which would help identify food questions more granularly, is come up with an assortment of better tags. I think that's already happening, though; we've got , , , etc.

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I like the because of the filtering function it can provide.

Veg*nism, although always having a certain connection to food by definition, has many different aspects. Having a tag like helps to search for either only food related or no food related questions. I feel it is important to have tags with different levels of granurality (and general applicability) as they can provide different sorts of view on the topic.

Imagine having tag , or not having tag at all and just typing meat into the search box. You would likely get questions like Am I still vegetarian if I occasionally eat meat? and questions like Is there any vegan food that is nutritionally equivalent to meat?

These questions are miles apart when we consider both their subject and the possible audience. One cares about the ethics, the other about diet. They are both correctly shown when searching for meat. But it is unlikely that someone will want to see both of them pop-up in one search, at the same time.

Having a tag such as helps the user to define his interest or disinterest in a certain aspect of veg*nism when performing his search. It helps to provide a way of effectively finding relevant information - the very purpose of tags.

It is true that a lot of questions can (and will) be tagged by this tag. But for me, that is the point. Because its absence will then be as meaningful as its presence. Because it will be a simple big-picture filter that can be used to drastically (precisely because of its generality) improve the search results.

If it was the only tag used for searching for something then yes, it would not be very helpful. It is by the combination with other tags that it really shines.


My answer presupposes a site that is somewhat bigger than Vegetarianism SE currently is. Meat tag, for example, currently shows 2 questions..

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  • Even though this is a well-reasoned suggestion, I'm downvoting because I disagree for the reasons specified in my answer. – Nic May 14 '18 at 20:11
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Burninate the tag.

Although I appreciate Alexander Rossa's theoretical defence of the food tag based on negative filtering capability, I don't think it quite works out in practice. Searches for tag inclusion generally yield a higher signal-to-noise ratio that searches for tag exclusion, especially for very broad tags like . Right now, searching for questions without the food tag yields 282 results, or 70% of all questions on the site. But virtually all of these results are about food. In short, I fundamentally disagree with Alexander's claim that "its absence will then be as meaningful as its presence".

If we were to keep this tag, then we would want to apply it to every question about [lacto/ovo-]vegetarianism because vegetarianism is always about food. Veganism, on the other hand, introduces various concerns unrelated to food. If we wanted to encourage accurate tagging, we would need to encourage people to always include either or and that feels pretty weird.

An answer posted on SE Meta to a question about tagging practices encourages us to use at least one broad tag. But what does broad mean? The broadest tag on Stack Overflow represents only 10% of questions on the site and on Server Fault only 12%. I don't know exactly how many questions on this site are food-related, but it's easily above 50% and possibly as high as 80-90%.

If somebody really did want to ignore all food-related questions, they would currently have better luck with either doing compound negative searches (ie. -[cooking] AND -[health] AND -[nutrition]) or by adding a variety of food-related tags to their tag ignore list.

And finally, each question has a limit of 5 tags. Since the vast majority of questions on the site are food-related, we would be sacrificing one of those valuable tag slots to something with little selective power while creating a lot of extra work for moderators who now feel the need to add on almost every newly asked question, and inform new users of our site's peculiar rule.

So, I think we should say farewell to the tag.

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  • I submit to the power of your argument :). Let's burninate it then. – Alexander Rossa May 14 '18 at 21:27

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