Are half of questions duplicative of Current tag synonym candidates?
Some debate on the utility of this thread occurred in its comments. Let this question serve as a home for a revival (and hopefully an actionable resolution) of that debate. To fuel it, consider the following...

First, there is a known issue with synonyms themselves that's worth acknowledging: questions with old tags don't appear in searches for their preferred synonym, if I understand the issue correctly, and assuming it still hasn't been fixed. See also: Tagging bug?.... [Edit: @gung's answer indicates this has been fixed, though these questions haven't been updated to reflect that yet...please comment here or edit if this changes.]

As for meta-questions that propose synonyms, only one solo proposal has been closed as duplicative, and recently: synonym request - gam and general additive model. This prevents answers, but not comments/votes. The question appears in searches, but points to the meta-thread, Current tag synonym candidates. Should we continue flagging new single-idea meta-questions as duplicates of this meta-thread? What about old questions like this?

That meta-thread is itself somewhat duplicative of Cleaning up tags: merging. The original only attracted a counterpoint, but wasn't closed. Current tag synonym candidates has seen more use. Tag rename suggestions was the true de facto original, but didn't actually ask for synonyms. Could/should all these questions be merged? If so, should Current tag synonym candidates be preferred? Also, maybe @AndyW's answer could be moved here, since it is critical of this idea.

On the meta-thread, @gung suggested deleting answers that have been resolved; I have done so, but in retrospect, I think it's a debatable practice. Deleted answers can't receive votes or comments from people who might disagree later. If we want to use Current tag synonym candidates as a meta-thread for synonym suggestions, do we want to delete these suggestions after they're implemented, or leave them open for future voting and commenting in case late voters prefer to undo the synonym?

has been used 22 times here. Three of the examples below didn't use it; the other 11 did. Uses not mentioned below are mostly for more complex questions.

Examples that I'd say discourage treatment of these questions as duplicates in general:

Examples I'd argue could be considered duplicative:

This issue might be somewhat trivial, but I could imagine some consequences. Asking questions separately for each suggestion might encourage more individualized consideration and more discussion for each, whereas posting them all to one meta-thread might encourage more uniform handling of all suggestions and somewhat less debate on each. One meta-thread might bring more attention to all proposals, whereas some may be forgotten if posted separately, as seems to be true of three of the above cases that haven't been implemented. On the meta-thread, some of gung's answers have also adopted a useful convention that could be edited into the question itself: to vote on answers as favorable or unfavorable proposals, rather than the tooltip-denoted meaning of votes on a question, "This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear." Some ambiguity exists in the last two examples I've listed above because the meaning of the upvotes they received may be interpreted in either of these ways. See a related question on MSO: Meaning of downvotes in Meta vs Main sites? for more on that issue...

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    $\begingroup$ My +1 one is for the research effort you put into your question and for the discussion it raises. It is not for the title. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ Technically (according to SE's built-in tooltip anyway), an upvote means "This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear." The ambiguity your different interpretation demonstrates is one of the issues with asking separate meta-questions for each synonym suggestion, as I've pointed out in the last two sentences of my OP. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:03
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, agree. It is because there are other guidelines for voting on Meta. See here. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ Good find! I tacked that onto the end. Arjan's answer quotes the Help Center itself as officially stating a different meaning associated with questions tagged feature-request! ¡Ay caramba! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:36

2 Answers 2


(+1 for the massive research effort if nothing else; note that upvotes & downvotes have a different meaning on meta than the main site: here they imply people agree or disagree with your proposal. In this case, I partially agree, so it goes with the admiration for the quality of the question.)

Let me put down some random thoughts:

  • Regarding the question about old tags not showing up in searches, I believe that issue has been resolved. (For example, if you look at the answer I linked to in the comments, the corresponding question is now tagged , so it can be found. I gather the moderators have changed the protocol when making duplicates somewhat so that this problem no longer occurs.)
  • I believe I'm agreeing with @AndreSilva (at least partially) in that there is room for two kinds of meta questions here. The thread Current tag synonym candidates is a good choice for simply proposing a candidate synonym. Of course, you can do this through the mechanism SE originally set up, but you need 5 upvotes on the tag in question, and it will never get noticed or resolved. This way makes it more salient and more democratic.
  • On the other hand, some of the potential duplicates you list strike me as primarily discussion items. That is, the OP is not necessarily certain, but wants to find out what people think about the overlap / distinction between the two tags. Prime examples of this type might be:

    Note that neither of these seem to be quite saying 'this is obviously a synonym, can we make this happen?'

  • Regarding your points about deleting answers to Current tag synonym candidates, I still think they should be.
    • First, if we do end up using that thread as a bulletin board for this issue, it will become excessively cluttered very quickly with old, resolved proposals, too cluttered to maintain its usefulness. (Remember that new answers will all be stuck at the very bottom, which will get further and further away.)
    • Second, once a tag has been made a synonym, it makes little sense for people to keep voting and discussing the issue; the old tag will simply have disappeared. Should someone in the future want to revive the old tag, the best bet would be to initiate a new meta.CV thread to discuss the issue. Moreover, I'm not clear how the process of unmaking a synonym works. The moderators may be able to do it, but I don't think it's ever been done before, and if you read through the comments to How can you find questions with SE's search features that have now-defunct tags?, @whuber's reservation was that the proposed solution makes the change irreversible. Since that approach appears to have been adopted, it seems even more unlikely that synonyms will be converted back.
    • For what it's worth, I have deleted many of the answers that I had posted to that thread, where the change was made. And you should have the ability to undelete your answers if you feel the need for some reason.
  • Many of the threads you list probably are duplicates and could be closed. However, I'm not sure if it is as important to do that with old meta threads. Here on meta, the community user does not bump unanswered questions. If no one else is bumping them, it may not be worth the hassle to close them all. Naturally, new threads that are duplicates should be closed.
  • $\begingroup$ Edited the OP to note your 1st bullet point. Re: the 3rd, I think optimal usage of your meta-thread and synonym meta-questions should either be identical to avoid confusion, or should specify how readers should vote locally: i.e., whether to denote dis/approval vs. useful/lessness. The ambiguous status quo isn't intolerable, just sub-optimal if eliminating it is doable. Hence (a) all should be stated decisively or (b) as neutral questions, or (c) feature-request / discussion tags should govern and the choice be explained explicitly. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 5:23

You brought many insights on your question. I'll focus on the idea if we should ask questions individually or just compile all of them into one unique thread.

Although I have no objections about users who prefer to ask these kind of questions in a compiled manner I prefer to generate threads individually for some reasons. One of them you cited on your question:

  1. "Asking questions separately for each suggestion might encourage more individualized consideration and more discussion for each".

  2. It is easier for me to pay attention and focus when just one subject is presented rather than a big list with many subjects under it.

  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I spent a lot of time researching the issue in an attempt to justify raising it. In the end, I partly couldn't decide whether I wanted to focus on presenting the research, or the question, and had a hard time getting it to be even this clear. Thanks for your efforts to navigate the convolutions nonetheless. I have bolded my direct questions already though, so I don't prefer your paraphrasing of my "main idea." I appreciate your opinions on that and the "other issues." I see you favor the current variety of options for suggesting synonyms, disagree with @gung's suggestion to delete the... $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ ...old suggestions that have been implemented, and probably disagree with @whuber's decision to mark this meta-question as a duplicate. I hope we'll get some feedback from others on your opinions, and on theirs too :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for the paraphrase. Reading the question's questions again made them clearer to me. So I will edit my answer's opening. Tks $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ No need to apologize! It's not invalid to focus on that idea; I just didn't come to the conclusion myself that it was my main idea. Maybe I will on further reflection, but in the meantime, I think some of the other issues need attention too, and hesitate to designate a main idea...maybe I should though! It would certainly improve the clarity of this question somewhat to have one main idea. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:33

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