As we are increasing in size and in number of users, we start to see more often users which have enough reputation to create a tag, and without much oversight, they go on a spree to add that to 50+ questions in the span of a day or two.

This is horrible, and Martin Sleziak has already had one good suggestion to limit the ability of the tag creator in editing in the new tag for a cooling period of at least a few days.

And I am not saying that the users doing that are definitely just gaming the system. I am sure that in their minds, they are trying to do a good thing. But the tagging system is fragile, and it requires collaboration and not one person working alone.

Yet, this happens. And interestingly, when it does, it almost always ends up rewarding the user a Taxonomist badge for their efforts. Which hints to me, that this reward-seeking behavior might be an underlying cause of this.

I propose that much like the fact self-edits do not count towards editing-related badges, self-tagging will not count towards a Taxonomist badge.

If nothing else, it will bring those users to meta to ask why they haven't received the badge, and will give the rest of us an opportunity to overview the new tag and its necessity.

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    $\begingroup$ I support this very much. I've been planning to make (a) related feature request(s) in the main meta. IMHO ideally all new tags at Math.SE should be cleared in meta. And also, the taxonomist badge should be only awarded to those tag creators whose suggestion is adopted by sufficiently many other users. While thinking about it I searched Meta.SE. There is at least this thread, and others linked to it. May be we can revitalize that discussion there, possibly by starting a new thread? Network wide support would surely help the cause. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it's a good idea to bring to the main meta. But I fear that I rather not involve myself in additional SE websites. My hands are full with the two math websites... $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with the suggestion. FWIW I did do something similar, not for badge hunting, but because I legitimately believed the tag was necessary and in my search there was 50 questions pertaining to the subject. I did not receive a badge for it. So perhaps it is not always the case you receive a badge? It was for the tag malliavin-calculus. $\endgroup$
    – user223391
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ @ZacharySelk this is a badge that is awarded only once per user; you had it already for stochastic-pde. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ "[A]ll new tags at Math.SE should be cleared in meta." This rule, while necessarily informal, seems (part of) the way forward. While it is supplementary to the feature request at hand, at worst we could curb excesses after the fact if the feature is not implemented. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: Yes, and I was generally against it before. But I think that we're at a point where we can start taking this more seriously. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


This looks a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

There is nothing wrong with somebody identifying a need for a new tag, creating it and then applying it to assorted old questions that would benefit from it. If they actually benefit from it, and if it is done in a way that does not disrupt the front-pages.

The main problems as I see it are:

  • rapid-fire mass-edits.
  • proliferation of useless or at least not-used tags.

While this proposal may help to curb the former problem, I am not even sure it would be very effective at that, and at the same time it might exacerbate the latter.

I am not in favor of this proposal; I might even be against it.

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    $\begingroup$ The main problem is that the tagging system sucks. And there's really no way of fixing it, because the size of the site is way too big, and because, well, it's one of these problems that are just too complicated for everyone to agree. But that means even more than so, that additional oversight is needed. And when a user doesn't seem to involve themselves in the discussion and just "create and retag", then this can be a problem equivalent to vigilantism. The case which spiked my post had a fairly high reputation user earning the badge by creating the tag, [...] $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ [...] silently waiting for a couple of days, then retagging to 70+ questions in the span of a day or two, almost all of which were with their answer. Yes, I appreciate the user waited these couple of days, but it doesn't count if they didn't at least bring this up on the meta site. Even if the tag is good. Under a normal circumstance, you would expect the tag to be useful to the community, not to just one person. Even if that one person is incredibly active in that tag, there's no reason to expect that he'll do all the work. It's not reasonable. It might happen, but never on purpose. [...] $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ [...] So I don't see how many proposal is throwing the baby with the bathwater. If you identify the need for a new tag, then all the more reason to bring this up on meta, create the tag, and let everyone participate in the process of retagging and refining the scope of the tag. If you do it on your own, then this is not necessarily a community decision, nor a community agreement. So why should you get a badge for doing something which might as well be against the wishes of the community? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ There are plenty of badges awarded for doing something that could be against the wishes of the community. Anyway, mostly I just don't think that the proposed feature is overly useful. Some added complexity for hardly anything in return. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ Plenty? Like what? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ Varied editing and voting based badges. One gets a badge for a rollback, I think one can keep it even if the rollback is rolled back. Etc. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that editing-related badges are not great, and mainly meant to induce participation, but even they don't count "closed-loop-self-edits" (at least in the long run, of Silver and Gold badges). Voting badges are arguably important since they help you establish being part of the community. Sure, you can be rogue, malcontent, you can go on a downvoting spree, or arbitrarily upvote. But it brings you into the community. Creating a tag, and applying it to questions you've answered just so you can get a badge? No sir, that's borderline anti-social, especially if there was malicious intent $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ I'll take note that some have strong feelings about this. Personally, I just do not see it as that much of a problem. But still I'd not hesitate to curb and to cull pointless activities along these lines if they are brought to my attention. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ As do I, and when I notice someone tagging in a new tag, I'd generally request that they stop and bring the issue to the meta site. But look at the history. The guy who did it last time it was brought up on the meta site is now suspended with 4500 points removed for voting irregularities. And that really says something. If people come to complain about their Taxonomist badge missing, that's literally self-incrimination and it adds a layer of oversight. The inner workings of some of the badges are hidden anyway, I don't see how this is adding any actual complication to the badge description. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ My point is that there are already complex machinations to deter people from gaming the system. Tag badges are removed when the reputation and/or answer count drop below the threshold. So clearly there is something to be said there. Why not apply this logic in part to the Taxonomist badge, which is the only badge that has anything to do with the tagging system in a direct way? (In fact, even the editing badges generally not rewarded for just retagging, so...) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ Likely it does say something. But what do we conclude? "Gamers gonna game." perhaps. If we introduce this, maybe we'll see a lot of suggested edits for some tags after creation; maybe users will resort to forming pairs to get the badge. There are a myriad possibilities to work around one thing or other. Now, of course, this does not mean that we should do nothing about anything only because there shall always be something else. Still I just don't consider this specific thing a particularly pressing problem. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ And how is that going to be different from groups who vote one another? I cannot count the number of ways every possible scenario can work out. But I feel that you're just playing the devil's advocate here, and not coming from a solid point of view. Which makes this whole discussion feels a bit... fluffy. Like a sponge cake. Well, a good sponge cake. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 0:07
  • $\begingroup$ Well, yes, as I said "I just don't consider this specific thing a particularly pressing problem." So, I said that. But I accept that others do consider it as a relevant problem. I would not veto the feature (not that I really could), but I will not lobby for it either. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 0:11

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