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The tag "bible" seems overly general to me (much the same way the tag "john" is too general). I can see a use-case for at least the following tags instead:

Any others?

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    It does sound too general bit fortunately it will still aid in search engine results. – Ecommerce Consultant Aug 27 '11 at 1:53
  • Google (and I'm guessing all other major search engines too) splits up words that are hyphenated, so these would still show up under a search for "bible" + the other terms – Raphael Rosch Apr 21 '14 at 1:25
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The tag "bible" seems overly general to me (much the same way the tag "john" is too general)

Wait a minute... isn't too general - it's ambiguous! There are multiple Johns. If you were arguing that we need multiple bible tags because there are multiple bibles, this would be a good comparison, but you don't seem to be worried about that.

Tags are a "folksonomy" not a hierarchy

Please resist the urge to create an unnecessary hierarchy in the naming of tags, or create tags that are excessively specific. Unless would mean something completely different when paired with than when paired with, say, , there's no need for this. You can let the tags stand alone, apply them when needed, and let the system give you bible history and law history questions.

Same thing goes for . Combine it with or or or whatever to give it context.

You can have up to five tags on any given question. Make 'em count...

Tags are for describing the content of the question

Along these same lines, be careful about using or refining a tag in such a way that it becomes a meta-tag: do you really need *-reference tags, when the primary purpose of this site is to create reference material for future readers? What does adding *-reference to a question tell you that simply seeing the question on the site does not? It feels like you're asking for [bible-reference] to avoid having a plain ol' [bible] tag...

Tags are almost never used properly by question authors anyway

If the folks asking questions on this site are consistently picking a perfectly applicable and comprehensive set of tags when asking, it'll be the first site on the network where that's happened. Let's face it: proper tagging is almost always a result of dedicated retaggers - editors - not conscientious authors. So when designing a set of primary tags, it's the editors who are your audience.

If you can get the asker to pick one good tag, you're doing pretty well... So there's some serious temptation to make tagging extra-difficult for the asker, in the hope that he'll put more thought into it...

"Oh, the obvious choice for tagging biblical questions is "bible" - if that's not available, they'll have to choose "bible-something" and we'll get two good tags!"

--deviously clever taxonomist

Best part of this is, it works! ...sorta. It works if there are only a few choices, and they're good choices, and those are the only choices you could possibly have. Which again, is probably why you stuck "bible-reference" in there, since that's pretty much a superset of any other [bible-*] tag.

But you're not doing anything for the editors, who now need to worry about whether they should add a second clarifying tag ([bible-reference] [health]) or create a new hierarchical tag ([bible-health]). And you're not doing anything for the reader who's looking for questions and can't get them by just clicking on the tag name, and then refining.

Worst of all, you're throwing away one of the biggest advantages of tagging: it's organic. You don't have to memorize some complicated hierarchy to make it work; just describe the question in simple terms, and let the system worry about the rest.

Conclusion: pick good tags, not complex tags

Let me return to the example you led off with. This is an obvious but ambiguous tag; if we rely purely on organic tagging to define it, we'll quickly find it used to mean multiple things. So something needs to be done. That doesn't necessarily mean banning the tag; it simply means we need to set the system up (via synonyms, wikis, etc.) to where its use is unambiguous.

should be fairly unambiguous. We might need or want clarifying tags at some point, to indicate specific translations... But those simply help to better describe the content of questions on which they're applied, and probably do not need to used in all cases. And yes, it will probably end up being a fairly popular tag, simply because of the nature of the site... So we'll want to make sure it's not used on questions where it doesn't apply. But the solution isn't to mangle it, or dispatch it entirely in favor of some hard-to-understand hierarchy.

It's a good tag - use it. And use it well. Create other good tags, and use them well. Let them be fruitful and multiply and fill the site...

  • What I suppose I meant to indicate with "bible-reference" was, "I'm seeking information on where the Bible references X." Not that the question itself has some reference to the Bible, or that visitors would want to use that question as reference. – Flimzy Aug 26 '11 at 19:24
  • @Flimzy: that's at least somewhat useful. Still, I recommend avoiding it if possible, or picking a less ambiguous name. – Shog9 Aug 26 '11 at 19:56
  • Would two tags, bible and reference be a more appropriate way to accomplish the same? I'm not entirely convinced "reference" is the best word to use anyway, but at least on principle, I can see the combination of two tags serving the purpose. – Flimzy Aug 26 '11 at 20:03
  • In principle, yes, two tags would be more appropriate. But yes, I'm thinking "reference" lacks some clarity in this context that would lead to misuse; best find a more descriptive tag. – Shog9 Aug 26 '11 at 20:09
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This may be settled law, but I think the tag is being overused, but only when used in conjunction with other tags. For instance and don't really have any reason to both be tagged together, do they?

https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/bible+biblical-basis

Right now, there's 29 questions with these tags. I guess it's not hurting anything, but it is strange and really dilutes the tag since the subject of the questions is not the bible, but some moral aspect.


I mean, if I asked what's the biblical basis for eating cheese, I would not use the tag.

  • biblical-basis seems like the inverse of bible. If there's something in the Bible you don't understand, use bible. If there's something in Christianity you don't understand and wonder if the Bible has anything to say on it, use biblical-basis. Does that sound right? If so, then there shouldn't be many, if any, questions with both tags. – Jon Ericson May 7 '12 at 19:17
  • @Jon yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking. Someone would have to ask "What is the biblical basis for the bible". Or maybe this question – Peter Turner May 7 '12 at 19:36
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    I just tried adding biblical-basis as an "Ignored Tag". A lot of my least favorite questions got grayed out that way. – Jon Ericson May 7 '12 at 20:02
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I agree. I've been thinking for a while now and haven't thought of other bible- tags that we need; we certainly can add those as the need arises.

However, I'll point out that the history tag might become quite overloaded too. Thus it'll certainly be better to use bible-history. Other history tags could be church-history and maybe general-history.

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    Just to point something out here... If you're trying to subdivide history into multiple, non-overlapping categories, then simply combining the history tag with other descriptive tags will suffice. The system lets you mix & match, refine and filter without requiring any explicit hierarchy in the naming. – Shog9 Aug 26 '11 at 18:27

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