There seem to be a number of tags that could be merged, e.g. there is "book" and "books" (hmm.. both with 16 followers, I wonder what the overlap is.. :) ).

This seems to be an ongoing topic of conversation, and I was wondering if it would help to have a central repository of suggestions for which tags to merge.

Related point: I feel for the little orphan tags that are a tag with no description. Besides these tags feeling potentially unloved and alienated, then getting involved in a gang and dying in some street fight somewhere in a dark alley in the rain, there are tags here that I have no idea what they relate to, and I assume others are in the same position. I've been adding some text in to tags that are devoid of content, which I'm happy for moderators to accept/modify/reject as they see fit. Would the community like the tags to have content, rather than just the tag name itself?

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    $\begingroup$ [book] is a kind of post-merging artifact, hopefully some maintenance will wipe it out (it cannot be added to new questions, since it will be automatically converted to [books]). Anyway, thanks for your edits! $\endgroup$ – user88 Jan 29 '12 at 12:22

The text that goes with tags are called tag wiki's. And yes, many on the site do not have any description (and ones that do could surely be improved). The Stackoverflow blog has a post that is helpful when formulating what should go into tag wiki's, and I believe any edits to tag-wiki's need to be approved by moderators at this point (probably only a few individuals on the site have sufficient reputation besides moderators to approve them). So I would say it is hard to imagine negative contribution(s) to the majority of tag-wiki's at this point.

As far as the other problem of tags that have trivial differences, this can be solved with (as mbq already mentioned) tag-synonyms. The general forum policy over time that that has evolved is just to present a thread in meta suggesting tag-synonyms (as only a few have the privileges to conduct such an action).

Tag's are really what makes SO type sites awesome (compared to say email mailing lists). Surprisingly to me, considering the diversity of the people whom ask and answer questions (both in terms of exposure to statistics and differing applied fields), tags have organically grown into meaningful and well defined categories. (Note here I am mainly referring to the creation of tags) While the community (in particular some key individual's) are instrumental to "policing" these tags, it is done so quickly that the interruption of bumping edited questions to the top of the list isn't very noticeable (the same goes for edits).

The only thing to keep in mind (in general) is that this is a community, and so any action that an individual can take that unilaterally affects the community should be discussed with the community before-hand (such as mass re-tagging of questions, see this prior incident on the site for an example of such an action).

Tag-wiki's aren't as noxious though (and need approval from other individuals) so adding a bunch of tag wiki's is probably a good thing (as long as they are thoughtful and reflect how the tag is used in this particular community).

(Mildly unrelated advice) If a particular discussion hasn't come up on the stats meta site, it is frequently good to check out the meta.So. It seems like every imaginable topic of discussion has come up there already.

I realize I didn't answer your question! I don't see much need at this point for a central repository question for tag merges. Those types of pages (e.g. Internet support for stats software) I will speculate are best for content that is relatively static. Tag-synonym suggestions will continually grow with the site in time.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, all I have been doing is editing the tag wiki short description, as in adding one. I have not touched any with content. And I have only retagged two recent posts with existing tags to try to help get more interested readers. $\endgroup$ – Michelle Jan 29 '12 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ I love the idea that "the tags on the site have almost policed themselves, and have required very little systematic intervention." Over time, somebody has put a lot of effort into creating these and checking them. (Actually, it's more than one person, but it is a very small number of them.) $\endgroup$ – whuber Jan 29 '12 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber, I apologize, and I did not mean to belittle the work you, the other moderators, or anyone else has done in maintaining said tags. I have tried to re-word my statement to accurately reflect my opinion without diminishing the contributions yourself or others have put into making the site function so smoothly. Also I notice the tag-wiki's are much more complete than I had previously remembered (or perhaps misremembered). I assume I have those same individuals to thank for such contributions to the site. $\endgroup$ – Andy W Jan 30 '12 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Michelle, given the quality of your answers so far on the site I have faith you would be able to positively contribute to both the body and excerpt for the tag wiki. The same goes for re-tagging questions. $\endgroup$ – Andy W Jan 30 '12 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ No complaints, Andy: I just wanted to set the record straight. RE your new version: please note that tag edits and wiki edits do not affect any questions; nothing will get "bumped." Only changes to the set of tags actually applied to a question will update the question and cause it to appear higher in the "Active" list. $\endgroup$ – whuber Jan 30 '12 at 15:27

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