Forem Creators and Builders 🌱

Frederik Creemers
Frederik Creemers

Posted on

Discourage using certain tags together

I'm wondering if it'd be useful to warn authors if they're using certain combinations of tags. This request is based on a single example, so I'd love" to know if there are other tags that hav ehis issue.

On DEV, the #discuss and #watercooler tags are often used together, and I feel like people confuse the two. Maybe we should add a little text in the ecditor when these two tags are used together? Or maybe there are other good ways to draw attention to the submission guidelines of tags used in a post?

Top comments (7)

ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle) • Edited

Tag administration and moderation is an ongoing discussion in almost every Forem I'm part of. I've been thinking of them quite a lot recently, and wondering whether we're having these conversations because we want different things from tags depending on who we are?
Like, in Ella's Platonic Ideal Forem, tags would form subcommunities with their own moderators, where people who want to share their interest in specific components of my broader Forem concept. But I also see the "hashtag" approach that marketing peeps talk about on social media, where we use tags as a way to draw attention to ourselves from multiple angles... and I guess my questions are:

  1. are we clear about the purpose/usage of tags on our Forems? (I welcome responses to this question from users of DEV, CodeNewbie, etc)
  2. is there enough room within the tags function as built for Forem architects to determine for themselves how to implement tags on their Forems? (Again, totally welcome responses from those on this Forem who are launching their own and starting to refine these aspects for themselves)
  3. how much does culture end up defining strategy when it comes to tags? Do we really get a say in how tags end up used/misused, or is it really a case of patterning best practices and leading by example?

There are waaaay more questions fomenting in my brain as I write these, but those were top of mind and I was wondering if you, @bigblind , or anyone else had further thoughts on the subject.

EDIT: I also wanted to share the Admin guide to Tags, if you haven't already run across it in your explorations of our documentation. It explains a little about how we can apply some rules to specific tags to guide the content posted under that tag - although in fairness, we can't stop people ignoring the templates or guidelines! (Docs are something we're actively working on as well, so feel free to send any feedback our way!)

bigblind profile image
Frederik Creemers

I think we should discourage their use as marketing, because it reduces their usefulness as a tool for organizing content.

I think tags serve 2 purposes

  • Identifying the sub-topics within the forem's topic that a post belongs to
  • Identify a specific post format or "content type" (discussion topic/programming challenge/industry news...)
bigblind profile image
Frederik Creemers • Edited

Expanding on this a little bit, I know Stack Overflow gets a bad rep for being an unwelcoming community at times, where members are more concerned about being pedantic about rules than about helping people. But what it does lead to is a corpus of usually very clearly tagged questions with answers, which is incredibloy valuable.

So for instance, people adding the #discuss tag to a blog post because they want people to discuss it in comments, devalues the tag. It means the tag no longer just gathers the "short topic introduction" + replies style of posts.

If I'm interested in a tag, I'll follow it. So if you use the right tags, you'll get a higly targeted audience to see your post, which I think is incredible valuable marketing-wise.

Thread Thread
ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle)

You're totally right. With strong tagging policies, people know what to expect - and people love to know what to expect (we're all busy and have limited time/attention, so most of us want to know that what we invest it in will give us what we want from it).

This is most definitely at the intersection of culture and strategy, in that setting up supported tags with templates, aliases, and other tools Forem provides will prepare contributors for success, and having an engaged team of tag mods will refine and smooth out any bumps in the tagging process. As Forem creators, we want to deliver value to our communities, and well-managed tags help us well-manage expectations.

ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle)

I think we're both on the same page here. I agree this is the approach we take with the Forem-hosted Forems (DEV, CodeNewbie,, and intend to continue with, so I am curious to see if this is something we successfully pass onto the entire Forem family.

I'm expecting (and half-hoping, let's be real) that we will see fabulous diversity across the Forems that people spin up for themselves and their communities. I don't doubt that different communities will take different approaches to tags, among other features, and feel like there's something exciting about watching these variations play out. Happy you're here on the front row with us!

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington • Edited

This is an interesting idea and definitely worth considering!

Just to give ya bit of info here, we have the concept of "supported tags". Admin can go behind the scenes and view all tags, choosing to make each one supported or not. When a tag is supported, it makes the tag searchable to authors who are writing posts or listings via an autofill suggestion. It also shows the tag's submission guidelines.

For instance, here's an example of me starting to type in "tag".../ the "t" autofill suggests "tag":

visual of adding tags in the DEV editor that shows search + submission guidelines

In addition to this, we have a feature called "tag aliasing" available to admin. This feature allows admin to make one tag an alias for another, so if anyone writes under the tag or tries to navigate to it, it automatically points to the other tag. This is helpful for situations where you have two different tags used for the same thing, e.g. #webdev and #webdevelopment β€” on DEV #webdevelopment is an alias for #webdev, thus leads to & any post tagged with #webdevelopment will appear under the #webdev landing page.

I just wanted to bring these mechanics up to show that there are some factors to help with tag maintenance.

I could totally see a world where admin might be able to list "tag antonyms" that would block or warn folks against using two tags together. Something like that might help solve what you're talking about.

lisasy profile image
Lisa Sy

Hey @bigblind , this is Lisa, lead product designer here at Forem.

Can you discuss further what are the implications of people using multiple tags that might be confusing?

I'm in the boat where I don't think we should care at all if people are using multiple, seemingly similar tags because communities, their creators, and their members, should feel empowered to do what they feel is most natural in their expression as they navigate through their Forem. I want to better understand the problem you're finding and who it is affecting because there might be an alternative solution to this.