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Update: all of the suggestions have been implemented, thanks @Scortchi.


  1. A couple of weeks ago a suggestion came up on meta to merge [natural-language] and [nlp] tags: Do we need the [natural-language] tag, separate from [nlp]? The Q has 6 upvotes, the A has 8 upvotes. Nothing happened.

  2. In July @Dougal finished a massive work to eliminate the [kernel] tag and posted a specific suggestion of how to merge/synonimize/rename other kernel tags: The [kernel] tag is dead. It got 14 upvotes. Nothing happened.

  3. In June @gung posted two suggestions in the "main" thread Current tag synonym candidates that seem very clear-cut and currently have 6 upvotes each. Nothing happened.

  4. One and a half years ago I posted this suggestion: Let us merge [mixed], [mixed-effect] and [mixed-model] tags that got 25-1=24 upvotes. Nothing happened.

I am concerned by how these discussions go. In none of these cases (!) was there a negative opinion voiced. So nobody seems to be objecting, a lot of people seem to be agreeing in the comments and via the upvotes, but no action is undertaken.

Are moderators waiting for a certain number of upvotes to accumulate? I guess there are no strict rules here (?) and the required level of explicit consensus might depend on how controversial the suggestion might appear to moderators. This makes it ultimately up to a subjective judgement of moderators -- which is completely fine with me, but then it would be helpful if moderators explicitly stated their opinions in such discussions. Currently it is difficult to understand why some of the suggested tag changes are swiftly acted upon and some others get completely stuck.

More importantly, what can we do about it? How should we deal with tag moderation more effectively?


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    $\begingroup$ If you want, you can also include this post to the list. However, it is important to say that in other 8 occasions I got help (mainly from moderators) and the tag tasks were successfully accomplished (search inside my questions; there is also a deleted post in the 'current synonyms...' post). Continues.... $\endgroup$ – Andre Silva Oct 6 '15 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ (+1) I notice, with a little embarrassment, that I've upvoted some of these suggestions. Perhaps at least part of the trouble's that there's not a fixed deadline for a decision & so they get forgotten about as other things happen. (I've just looked at the tag synonym history, & it seems to be whuber & chi doing most of the work here, so I should start looking into it.) $\endgroup$ – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Oct 6 '15 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Scortchi: it would be great if you could help moving these things forward! Take a look at the four cases that I listed. Do you think these suggestions are reasonable enough and upvoted/supported enough to act upon, or not? If yes, why not going ahead. If not, then perhaps a comment explaining that you still find it too premature to implement and maybe setting some goal (in terms of e.g. upvotes) of what would be not too premature, would go a long way towards making the whole process more transparent. $\endgroup$ – amoeba says Reinstate Monica Oct 7 '15 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ @amoeba: I will, I have done, & I do. The examples you've given all show clear support for merging, though sometimes the direction doesn't seem clearly indicated - gls or generalized-least-squares? Perhaps an easy resolution would be for someone with the necessary privilege who thinks there's enough support to reply in Meta:-"All right, I'm going to do this now" & to go ahead & do it if there are no objections. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Oct 7 '15 at 9:08
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  1. One problem I see for moderators is there's no real way to "set a reminder" for anything you want to act on in the future but can't (/shouldn't/etc) act on right now.

    Votes on meta questions that could lead to an action by a moderator are a good example of a place where it's important to be able to say something like "Check the status of this in 72 hours (/a week/tomorrow), because I may need to act on it". Moderators often come to these threads early (since we're notified when they post) but may not remember to check back.

    This situation - where you recognize now that an action may be needed in the future but there won't be any 'trigger' to do anything then - is a problem I raised on meta.SE:

    Allow moderators to leave themselves reminder notes

    (only to have it closed as duplicate of something it's quite clearly not an actual duplicate of -- I ruled out the exact thing it later closed as a duplicate of, right in the question). It got a little support via votes, but it would have needed a lot more support to go anywhere, especially since it closed. So much for that.

    I don't have a good solution to this (or rather, I believe I do, as indicated above ... but I can't do anything much about it). [Edit: well, "ping moderators" in some fashion, as amoeba mentions, is of course always an option.]

  2. There's also no clear indicator of what is "sufficient" to indicate that we should take an action. There's no person and no set criteria which say "yes, that vote passes, now let's add it to the tasks that someone needs to take care of". When anyone can vote at any time, who says a vote passes? [Also, some of the time at least there's no clearly identified alternatives to vote for, sometimes just a single option that has a few upvotes, in which case sometimes it's not even clear we're really holding a vote rather than just discussion.]

    I don't have a good suggestion for how do we deal with having a time point and one or more criteria by which to be able to say "okay, this vote's officially over, did the proposal get over the line?"

  3. In some cases (such as some kinds of retagging operation) you don't necessarily need a moderator to do it. If its one of those "retag a few at a time by hand" ones, anyone with edit privilege should be able to retag them (though it would be sightly easier for those users with the higher level ability to edit just the tags). In those cases, as long as there's at least some reasonable support you can point to here, there should be no problem whatever just doing it.

    So at least in some cases, the issues in (1.) and (2.) are moot; anyone who cares enough to do it (and who is able to) just needs to do it.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer! I appreciate all these points. Point #1 is clear, but I guess we can edit the questions on meta to bump them, ping moderators in chat, post new meta questions (like I did now), etc., so the danger of moderators simply forgetting about the issue seems to me to be almost non-existent. I guess the real problem is your point #2: if you see a tag suggestion that seems somewhat controversial and has $n$ upvotes, then when do you decide that $n$ is big enough? I think that's what we should really be discussing here. $\endgroup$ – amoeba says Reinstate Monica Oct 7 '15 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ @amoeba thanks for the response; yes, #1 highlights a need to bump moderators occasionally because there's not really any other mechanism. In terms of #2 I don't know whether a formal procedure is necessarily called for, but at least some sense of what should be seen as "enough" might help. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b -Reinstate Monica Oct 7 '15 at 0:13
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe it will help to make the discussion more concrete and consider four specific cases that I listed; I would appreciate if moderators who are reading this thread could comment on whether the support there seems insufficient or whether in some cases it does perhaps seem sufficient, but nobody simply got around acting upon them so far. This would give a sense of what is seen as sufficient/insufficient, and would perhaps suggest some ways of making the whole procedure more efficient. (I agree that a formal procedure is not needed and that's not something I am calling for.) $\endgroup$ – amoeba says Reinstate Monica Oct 7 '15 at 0:20
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Re @Glen_b's #2: I proposed in a comment that when someone with the necessary privilege to make a tag synonym feels that a proposed synonym has enough support they should say that they're going to implement it; &, after a short time, if no-one objects, do so. That seems like a practical solution.

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  • $\begingroup$ This does indeed seem to work well, in particular the "this will be implemented in X days unless somebody objects" countdown part. I was hoping that this thread will end up in some sort of consensus guidelines about what constitutes "enough support", but this discussion does not seem to be happening, so perhaps we should simply leave it there. My present impression is that above 5 upvotes with 0 downvotes seems to be mostly enough support for a tag synonym. $\endgroup$ – amoeba says Reinstate Monica Oct 26 '15 at 16:04

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