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As a followup to

Version tags considered harmful

TL;DR -- my main point in that post:

The danger of version tags is that they become de-facto requirements -- crutches to avoid thinking about what tags are actually useful on a question. Left unchecked, version tags will poison your tagging system rendering it useless. Don't get me wrong: version tags can exist, but should only be used on posts that are truly specific to a particular version.

With that in mind, I think we have a compromise that is workable.

Instead of

Henceforth, version tags for the core product discussed on a site entirely dedicated to that product will be numbers only, such as

This solves a bunch of problems:

  • It reduces the redundant repetition of "Sharepoint" in tags on a website that is already entirely dedicated to Sharepoint.

  • It avoids "autocomplete syndrome" where new users type the first thing that comes to mind in the tags field, Sharepoint, and are forced into this rigid and dangerous "oh, I must specify a version" mindset from the get-go.

  • When users do begin typing a number in the tags field, they will get the version, which is probably what they wanted at that point so we are guessing their intentions better.

  • The number tags are clean and simple; when you see on a Sharepoint site, it is IMO quite obvious what that tag is for.

Bottom line, it allows the version tags to exist -- which as I have always said is fine -- while keeping their use under control, so they can be applied only to questions that are truly version specific as originally intended.

4

I think this is a good solution. I think we all accept that some questions are version-specific, but that we need to discourage people from abusing these version tags.

The only thing I would add is that we might also discourage the version tag for the current version, i.e. 2010, since as far as we know at present, everything that applies to this version will apply to the next also. When 15 comes out we would then need to start tagging 2010. What if an SP2007 user posts a question and tags it 2007, and the answers are along the lines of "you need to do blah, same as in 2010"? Well then remove the 2007 tag.

I think this is the best solution we are going to get within the current system. Let's agree on this and move on.

  • well, I burninated all the [sharepoint-2010] tags since they covered 80% of questions, so as long as the users and mods are curating the front page and educating with edits, we should be fine. – Jeff Atwood May 26 '11 at 22:11
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With respect, this still won't work.

Consider that release cycles average every three years. SharePoint 2010 was released towards the end of 2009. We get tags over the course of the subsequent three years that cover it for questions that, at the time they are written, are truly version specific and only apply to that release.

... Now, fast forward and SharePoint 2012 is released. We have three years worth of thousands of questions tagged with . Oh but hang on, most of those now apply to as well!!

We don't have the resources to review all of those questions, and even if we did what would we tag them with? They are still version specific, just to two versions now instead of one!

The version tags do not and cannot work.

  • the only thing this is meant to solve is the mindless use of such tags, mostly through naive autocomplete in the tags field. Beyond that, it is up to the moderators to set the tone and examples of "we don't use that tag unless we REALLY HAVE TO" on the home page. – Jeff Atwood May 26 '11 at 6:28
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    sigh the implentaton of tags is just not very flexible. We need to re-implement SO with proper hierarcial SharePoint managed meta data :-p – Anders Rask May 26 '11 at 21:30
  • @AndersRask Nice one!! – Alex Angas May 27 '11 at 1:12
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I'm going to go off on a tangent, and point out that the reason this is such an issue is that the SE question-only tagging system is fundamentally flawed when it comes to the sludgy mixed up world of SharePoint; and indeed many similar subjects.

Consider this question: sharepoint webpart javascript - 'null' is null or not an object

The only tag that's actually relevant there is JavaScript, and that may not even be where the problem actually lies [missing elements, archaic browser, PEBKAC]. Why are the tags so wrong? Because the questioner isn't prescient: they don't know where the problem is.

It would be better to have the answerers tag their answers with the relevant information (such as whether it's version specific), and for the accepted answer to override the question's tags.

This could then be expanded to allow certain tag types (such as version) to only be used in questions or only in answers. This would also fit well with Meta, allowing only questioners to use tags like [support] and answerers to use tags like [status-completed].

  • I guess I deserved that downvote for proposing that redesigning Stack Exchange is the best solution... – Stu Pegg May 27 '11 at 15:39
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    er, why cant the answerers edit the question to have the correct tags? Remember even anonymous user can propose edits. – Jeff Atwood May 27 '11 at 18:48
  • @Jeff: It's the second stage that made this worth mentioning; the answer-specific tags (for version in particular). But to answer your response more directly, I would say that it encourages beneficial tag-updating behaviour by putting the infrastructure in place for it to happen naturally, and more transparently. – Stu Pegg May 27 '11 at 19:26
  • @Jeff: And to use hyperbole on your argument (absolutely mandatory to prevent the earth imploding): Why not remove the tags entirely and have people write the relevant tags at the bottom in square brackets? /hyperbole. The reason we have that section is because having the structure encourages the action. – Stu Pegg May 27 '11 at 19:31

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