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I say that at initial stages of the Beta, people who create tags should try and create their wikis as well. I know some of us are doing it already. Otherwise it will be very difficult for a few people to go and write descriptions for all of them some time down the road when we have 250+ tags in place. Is this usually a good strategy?

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    $\begingroup$ Clarification to myself: what I mean is, the selection of tags will help shape the on-topic definition for this site. $\endgroup$ – rwong Aug 18 '11 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ I agree completely $\endgroup$ – Phonon Aug 18 '11 at 15:24
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Yes, it is a good strategy... That said, I'm seeing here what I've seen on a lot of new sites: tag wikis and especially excerpts that give general-purpose definitions for the tag, without relating them to the site! At best, this is... better than nothing. At worst, it's just noise. Here are some guidelines for writing tag wiki excerpts:

  1. The excerpt is the elevator pitch for the tag. You only have ~500 plain text characters for the excerpt, so don’t feel obligated to cover everything in it! Save that for the 30,000+ character Markdown tag wiki. The excerpt should define the shared quality of questions containing this tag — boiled down to a few short sentences.
  2. Avoid generically defining the concept behind a tag, unless it is highly specialized. The “email” tag, for example, does not need to explain what email is. I think we can safely assume most internet users know what email is; there’s no value in a boilerplate explanation of email to anyone.
  3. Concentrate on what a tag means to your community. For “email” on Server Fault, mention the server aspects of email including POP3, SMTP, IMAP, and server software. For “email” on Super User, mention desktop email clients and explicitly exclude webmail, as that would be more appropriate for webapps.stackexchange.com.
  4. Provide basic guidance on when to use the tag. In other words, what kinds of questions should have this tag? Tags only exist as ways of organizing questions, so if we don’t provide proper guidance on which questions need this tag, they won’t get tagged at all, rendering the tag excerpt moot. Think of it as a sales pitch: in a room full of tags screaming “pick me!”, what would convince a question asker to select your tag?
  5. Some tags are common knowledge. Most tags require a bit of explanation in the excerpt, even if it’s only 3 or 4 words. But if the tag is common knowledge — that is, if you walked up to any random person on the street and said the tag word to them, and they would know what you were talking about — then don’t bother explaining the tag at all. Stick to usage of the tag within your community in the excerpt.
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