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Stackoverflow uses a lot of "sub-tags" as I call them, for example that help add value to the question by letting you search for specific information that wouldn't really work as a combination of tags (does anyone really want a tag?!?!). These are basically tags that are a more specific version of a general tag.

Things are similar on this site. For example, probably shouldn't exist as there is already a dominion and openings tag, and this would merely be the intersection of the two, as would be on Stackoverflow. (sorry for the Stackoverflow example for those who don't frequent there as well, but it helps to illustrate the situation).

But what about tags that apply to specific aspects of specific games? I just retagged several questions to as it would likely be difficult to find these questions without a tag and a tag would apply only to magic anyway. We have already chosen to use "sub-tags" for expansions, like dominion-seaside. What sub-tags should we encourage/discourage? Would , , , or be allowed, or should these be organized in some other way (I tried to find some edge-cases)?

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    Would anyone who wasn't a semi-hardcore player even know to search "manabase", though? Searching for "Magic land" seems to find most of them pretty easily. – Alex P Jan 19 '12 at 22:32
  • @Alex Then why have the magic-the-gathering tag? You can just search for "Magic" and find all of those questions even more easily, with a higher relevancy rate too. :D – Gordon Gustafson Jan 19 '12 at 23:33
  • So the questions show up in a cute blue highlight color when I look at the front page, of course. :) – Alex P Jan 20 '12 at 19:04
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I don't really see the point of a tag like , and can see some disadvantages. As you point out, you can just search for the intersection, by typing either informally

bridge bidding

or formally (to force the search by tags)

[bridge] [bidding]

into the search box.

There are a few other issues:

  • There's a distinction between top-level tags, and the rest. A tag like is "top-level". It's the kind of tag people will want to follow. In fact, if you're a hardcore Magic player, you can follow that tag, use that as your homepage, and just never see the rest of the site at all! A tag like isn't going to be used like that. In your SO example, I think that's a key difference between and the non-existent - the former is top-level, the latter is not.
  • Tags should be as simple as possible. Tag conventions are great, but most users don't know or care about what they "should" be using. Most people would just tag and move on. Any policy that doesn't do what people expect needs to be considered carefully.
  • Special conventions need maintenance. The corollary to the previous point is that higher rep users will have to do more monitoring and retagging when non-obvious conventions are in use.
  • Determining game-specific tags is non-trivial. How do you make the distinction between a tag that only applies to a single game, and one which is more general? It's impossible to guarantee that no other game has the concept of "manabase". Even worse, they might have a similar mechanic, but call it something a bit different. Choosing where to draw that line with specialised tag naming is going to be endless.

One place where this might be a little different is the case of game expansions, and how they should be tagged. I'll bring that up in a separate question.

The best summary we have of how tagging is intended to work is Why do we tag questions?. It doesn't address your question directly, but is still somewhat helpful.

I've done a bit of further reading. Here are two takes from gaming, both for and against "sub-tags".

  • So you're saying we should drop the dash and just use bidding, defense, manabase, sacrifice, etc.? I assumed those tags wouldn't be allowed as they apply to so many different games and mean very different things in each of them, kind of like a 4.0 tag would. I suppose they would function along the same lines as the rules and strategy tags, and if they became widely sanctioned they would be a good solution. – Gordon Gustafson Jan 20 '12 at 21:40
  • @CrazyJugglerDrummer, ire may not be saying that ... and in fact I think your assumption is accurate, even if that is not currently how things work here. See this answer to an earlier question on tagging: as you both point out, tags other than game and genre tags can mean different things in different games and thus cause more confusion than they may be worth. It may also be worth noting that SO is not a particularly good example for tagging: there are plenty of questions that have five tags and probably need only one or two at most. – Dave DuPlantis Jan 21 '12 at 0:44

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