What does the community think about us cleaning up tags and making more prominent mention of them in the FAQs?

For example, it seems that 3 broad tags would be helpful.

  1. Project Management Problem
  2. Theory
  3. Using Tools

Project Management Problem would be the broadest and include questions like https://pm.stackexchange.com/questions/6195/dos-and-donts-with-clients and Should a client/customer be in the room or participating during planning poker?

Theory would be for abstract questions that are of interest to the PM community such as How Do You Calculate Schedule Compression Ratio? and How to Introduce Uncertainty without Scaring a Customer?

Using Tools would be for tool related questions such as Can bug trackers be used for tracking tasks other than programming? and the closed question How can I effectively track story points with Trello?. We can still keep the definition of Using Tools tight, as suggested by @jmort23 and @CodeGnome.

  • Thanks for the comments below. I'm going to re-open / moderate with those three tags in mind. Will try to get to the definitions and potentially merging tags sometime soon. Just read Joel's "Summer of Love" blog post. Keeping it open and welcoming. Jul 20, 2012 at 18:31

3 Answers 3



Clarify the scope and intended audience before we rewrite the tags.

Scoping Topics for the Target Audience

In general, I think this is an excellent suggestion, but I'm abstaining on a vote because I'm not convinced that abstract questions are a good fit for a Q&A site--stress on the answer part of Q&A.

For example, I think methodology questions are constructive, especially if they are about a specific instance or use case that a project manager is facing. "How do I apply the Fubar Methology in this specific situation I'm facing?" seems like it's potentially applicable to future visitors, and generally answerable in a meaningful way. I'm less sure that purely theoretical discussions are suitable for scoped answers, regardless of the subject matter.

As a case in point, if someone wants to discuss the theoretical benefits of directive vs. servant-leader management styles, that's going to generate polling and debate. On the other hand, if someone describes a given scenario within a specific corporate culture and asks about which style might be most appropriate based on that example, it will still generate subjective answers but at least they will be applicable to a context where the outcome can ostensibly be measured.

I really, really believe that most constructive PM questions on this site should decompose into "Blah blah...in my current situation" to avoid being too abstract. Applied theory is valuable to visitors; they are probably facing similar situations, and can benefit from questions similar to real situations they are facing. If someone wants to study or debate batch queuing theory in the abstract, though, the answers are unlikely to be useful to a wide audience without specific context or a concrete application.

I really want to see PMSE succeed. My personal opinion is that it needs to attract a wider audience and go where the questions are rather than limit itself to a subset that's of interest only to the hardcore membership. Granted, there's always a risk of chasing the lowest common denominator, but I think that would be a nice problem for PMSE to have at this point in time.


Revisiting tags is a great idea! Many of the tags were created in the first few days of the site and are somewhat confusing. They may no longer be relevant or help properly organize the material. However, we should be careful that we use good tagging strategies and take into consideration the lessons learned from other Stack Exchange sites.

"Theory", and the other two examples, are incredibly broad tags. They don't tell us much about the actual content of the question, such as whether it's about Agile, Kanban, Waterfall, construction, development, etc. This is addressed here in the blog post, The Death of Meta Tags where Jeff describes meta tags as tags that don't indicate what the question content is actually about. Examples he uses are subjective, beginner, and best-practices. They indicate the type of question but not the content of the question.

Let's be sure to ask if we really need such tags and be sure we have good reasons for using them.

Again, I fully support revisiting the tags and am really glad you brought this topic forward. ;)


While I also find inspiration in the Summer of Love blog post, I want to point out a very important quote from our Stack Exchange founder, Joel Spolsky:

The goal is simple: to keep Stack Exchange a welcoming, friendly place without lowering our standards..

(Emphasis is mine)

Instead of making changes to the tags now, why don't we talk about what the existing problems are with the current tags and then come up with a plan that takes into account Stack Exchange policy and the mistakes of the past (so we don't repeat them?)

I downvoted this proposal to indicate my disagreement with the proposed tags because they're really broad meta tags. I feel like my original answer's positive tone may have indicated that I agree with the porposed tags when in fact it's the concept of evaluating the tags and pointing out their flaws that I do in fact agree with. (Remember, downvotes on meta indicate you merely disagree)

Also, the Stack Exchange community has faced tagging issues in the past, and we should thoroughly examine these mistakes, and Stack Exchange policy. In the blog post The Death of Meta Tags, Jeff Atwood quotes Shog9 in regards to the tag, which was destroyed by Jeff after much discussion and debate :

I think the [subjective] tag is useless at best and actively harmful at worst.

And harmful, because there are some users who actually believe that, like community wiki, it’s some sort of magic that allows you to ignore the normal posting standards.

Essentially, what he's saying is that tagging cannot and should not be used as an excuse to allow a certain class of questions that aren't designed for Stack Exchange, like those that are not constructive or that fit within other close reasons. For instance, we cannot justify opening such a blatantly ill-fitting question like https://pm.stackexchange.com/questions/6195/dos-and-donts-with-clients just because we gave it a fancy new tag and think it would be fun to have everyone list their favorite Do's and Don't's. (Note that constructiveness is the issue with this question, not whether it's on topic or not.)

Also, in Death of Meta Tags, Jeff Atwood takes the following quote from Aronut:

The reason meta-tags are a problem is that they do not describe the content of the question. They describe some other aspect of the question, like the author’s skill level, or the author’s motivation for asking it, or generally what “kind” of question it is (poll, how-to, etc.).

Meta-tags are actually a subset of a larger problem that I usually call dependent tags. These are tags that don’t say anything by themselves – you can’t tell what the question is about unless they’re paired with some other tag (or several of them). These tags are a problem because people don’t realize this and will often use that as the question’s only tag.

The proposed tags seem like they're the type of tags that Jeff Atwood and his team specifically discourages in this blog post.

The purpose of my answer and downvote isn't to discourage anyone from making or proposing improvements to the tags, but those improvements should fall within the Stack Exchange guidelines so that we don't repeat the same mistakes of the past.

Actions we take should be in-line with the guidelines of Stack Exchange, as it is they who will decide the fate of our site.

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