Tag misuse, particularly with tags with chinese in them, seems to have been a common issue. This presumbly is a result of new users erroneously tagging questions with solely because they're using simplified characters (which is rather inappropriate except for issues related to reading / writing). This also has happened in the past with tags with learning in them -- users presumably add such tags solely because they happen to be learning Chinese.

Similarly, some other tags appear to be duplicates but haven't been very well taken care of in the past. Tag descriptions should also be added in those cases, as it is rather unclear in some cases what tags actually cover and there appears to be overlap (e.g. with , , , and ).

Unless such tags are pertinent to the question, all they do is create "noise" for questions that are legitimately focused on these topics. An analogy: it would be bad if I used on SO solely because it was the OS I was using to write my code. (To boot, the Windows tag on SO specifically states that it is only for Windows-specific problems.) Moreover, having multiple tags that essentially cover the same material makes it difficult to locate questions on a topic, because often, people will not be aware of all the relevant tags when they search for content.

I fixed most of the blatantly incorrect cases, but there should be clarification on what these tags are for via use of the tag descriptions (which the last time I checked were non-existent), particularly since I can't tell if I've simply misunderstood the purpose of the tags. As such, we should clarify when which tags should be used, and also synonymize / delete tags if necessary. I am using this meta post as a place to point out the issues I have spotted, and other users are welcome to add to it. I do not want to fix everything by myself without any discussion, as it is possible that I am simply unaware of community consensus on tag usage.

Edit: I am going to add tag specific issues (as grouped under what the "main" issue is) as answers, since this post is becoming extremely unwieldy. I will also add my opinion of what the best approach is, in the cases where I have one.

  • Incidentally, I'm not sure if there's need for tagging on meta, if tags presumably also covers related issues.
    – user5714
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 16:35
  • Feel free to comment with suggestions or proposals -- I'm not always sure of what the best solution would be (e.g. with the learning tags issue), and in other cases, while I trust my suggestion to not be entirely terrible, I'd like to confirm that I have the right idea.
    – user5714
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 22:23

5 Answers 5


What exactly differentiates the various tags related to learning?

There are issues with and and and . Many questions appear to have been tagged as such in the past solely because the OP was learning Chinese: they often had no obvious link to issues specific to learning and could have been read as general questions.

I edited these out, but the problem hasn't been entirely fixed. The tags themselves have no descriptions, and all I could find was this meta discussion from two years ago that seems tangentially related. As it stands, I have no idea what the exact difference (if there is one) between these four tags are, beyond that might concern more structured environments. Either this should be clarified, or there should be some degree of synonymization.

It's definitely useful to have a tag about studying Chinese, but perhaps it should be state to be a tag only for questions specific to studying. I can also see some use for a "learning" tag about more systematic environments, such as schools or the such. Beyond that however, it's kind of unnecessary to have multiple tags like this.

  • 1
    I suggested language-learning as a synonym for learning. If enough people vote for it, it will become a synonym. I clarified the description of academic. I'll look at your other tags later.
    – Don Kirkby
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 5:40
  • @DonKirkby: it looks like I'd previously specified one of the tag names incorrectly (learning-chinese instead of learn-chinese). I've corrected this now in the post now. Incidentally, it looks like there hasn't been much progress with voting for / against the synonymisation . . .
    – user5714
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 20:53

Are simplified and traditional tags intended only for questions that explicitly concern use of simplified or traditional characters?

I noticed issues with tags such , where many questions aren't specific to simplified characters, and sometimes it seems largely to be an effect of the tag suggestion mechanism ( being one of the first things that will show up if one types in chinese in the tag field). In other cases, this seemed solely to be there by virtue of the fact that the OP uses simplified characters, such as here. I've edited the bulk of the questions, and you can probably find those in my activity tab.

However, it should be made clear that these two tags are for discussion specific to simplified characters or the such (which I would see as the best approach, so as to reduce "noise"). (If this is not how these tags should be used, I would appreciate a clarification. This is also why I am not editing the tag descriptions first without input from others, as it is possible that I've misunderstood something.)


Add synonyms and clarifications on usage to these cases?

  • Some tags could use a few synonyms. For instance, is also for phrases, so might be a useful thing to add as a synonym so people know about it.

  • Similar to the issue in (3) and seem to cover similar content. Clarification on the difference or some merging of the tags seems in order. (If the tags are merged, I would personally prefer that be used as the main tag: dialect has some unnecessary political implications, among other issues.)

    Moreover, using dialect by itself for questions related to specific dialects (instead of creating or using or the such) feels somewhat pointless, since the tag would then cover too many disparate areas to be useful to people searching. (I would thus caution against such usage and prefer that it be used for general questions about dialects, and would instead suggest state in the tag description the appropriate use.)

  • I cannot tell if is meant only for questions about writing comparisons (e.g. using structures like X 比 Y) or if it also covers questions about comparing the meanings of two different words (such as how the tag is used [here][6]). (I would assume it does not, since seems to be for that, but there's no tag description and in itself, "comparison" is vague enough that I can't really tell.)

  • Currently, there are some questions in , such as this one, that read as questions insofar as they are relatively general questions about pronunciation rules. I would consider it more appropriate to move such questions to (or at least add that tag) and to make a note in that that tag should be restricted to more specific cases, but I'd imagine that some other solutions may also work.


Tags specific to the source of the content the OP is asking about, like doraemon?

I've seen several tags specific to the content the OP was asking about, such as or . Are these tags worth keeping? I think they are to some level (at least with , since some peculiarities of language may crop up at some point), but the instance strikes me as possibly not useful to have around. After all, I don't think I would want to tag some question asking about the language of 上海滩 with , since there's nothing much to suggest that there may be some peculiarities associated with what I'm watching that require an extra tag.

Thus, I would want to discourage such practice except in cases where the specific source may be particularly relevant.


How useful is it to have learning level tags?

I've noticed that tags such as , , and exist. These are supposed to correspond to learning levels, but as they are, they don't seem useful to me (and they're also not used much anyway).

After all, what corresponds to "beginner" or "intermediate" or "advanced" levels is fairly subjective. Most anyone would consider learning classifiers or common conjunctions (think 和 and not 而 or 及) or particles (了 and 的, and not 之) to be "basic", so I think a tag is useful if used properly. (To me, "used properly" would mean that it is used only in questions specifically about learning Chinese or about similar issues specific to beginners, like "How do I memorise characters?". I would, conversely, see them as inappropriate for questions such as "When can 的 be omitted?", because such a question is not specific to beginners. Your mileage may vary.)

However, there is much fuzziness beyond that:

  • Some of the questions tagged with are questions that I, even as someone who does not consider herself an advanced speaker, could easily ask. (e.g. here, ignoring the comment on classifiers; also here, where I would be comfortable making an attempt to answer).

  • Moreover, what an "advanced" speaker is (as opposed to an intermediate speaker), in general, is slightly subjective, without a clear set of standards (and even then, people might not actually know their level). "advanced" and "intermediate" might be useful, again, in the context of learning strategies / resources, but there should be some specification (e.g. "knows approximately X characters") in the tag description about what exactly they cover.

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