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I just rejected a deluge of suggested edits to add the 'agile' tag to a bunch of Questions tagged as 'scrum'.

I presume this was the correct response due to extrapolating from Does PM.SE benefit from having Specific tags for each MS Project version?.

Should the tag infos for scrum and agile be updated to not use both at the same time?

Or, if I was wrong, should they be updated to explain the opposite?

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    Yeah, a tag description update looks the best here. Agile for generic items, Scrum for specific cases. One of my concerns though is that there's still people out there not understanding the relationship between them. Maybe explain the relationship between them on the tag description as well? – Tiago Cardoso May 3 at 13:38
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    I'm refraining from answering this (great) question myself to give opportunity to the community to share their thoughts! Go community! :) – Tiago Cardoso May 4 at 19:37
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    This is very similar to the recent meta question we had about MS Project version tags. I think the same general guidance applies, but I provide broader explanation below, – Todd A. Jacobs May 8 at 2:44
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Why would we not use both?

Tags are so people can find the questions they want to answer. Why would you not want an expert for agile practices answer your Scrum question? Well, even if you do, tag it only Scrum. Why would you not want a Scrum expert to answer your agile question? Well, whatever the reason is, tag it only agile then.

Want the power of both or maybe you are happy with a solution that is agile but not directly from the Scrum Guide? Tag it with both tags.

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    Although I do agree, adding a tag artificially because "Scrum is agile" is not helpful and should be rejected. – nvoigt May 6 at 14:48
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    I agree that only if the OP add both tags, it'd be ok to leave them. What's not OK is question retagging only to add agile to scrum questions. My opinion is not because great Agile practitioners could not answer Scrum questions (or the other way round). Instead, that's because people asking questions oftentime don't have clear the difference between them, and it's up to us to help them on understanding these differences (such as expanding the tag description) – Tiago Cardoso May 6 at 19:05
  • If people are searching for “agile” when they should be searching for “scrum,” then the tag wikis are not doing their jobs. This is similar to the problem of searching for Ruby questions on SO, because many idi^h^h^husers tag them as both [ruby] and [ruby-on-rails], even though most of them are not meaningful Ruby questions, as they’re very Rails-centric. While perhaps an extreme example, I think the example applies here, too. – Todd A. Jacobs May 8 at 2:20
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TL;DR

Users should be encouraged to use only the most specific tags relevant to the current question. If too many people are using both superset/subset tags on the same question, then the tag definitions and wikis should be updated to clarify proper usage.

Tags Are for Filtering

Search on Stack Exchange is very flexible, so tags aren’t really for search. Instead, they are most useful for following or filtering specific topics. So, if people are searching for “agile” when they should be searching for “scrum,” then the tag wikis are not doing their jobs or clarifying the useful distinctions between the terms.

Subset/superset tagging causes filtering problems, especially in high-volume tags. A great example is the challenge of searching for pure Ruby questions on Stack Overflow. Many less experienced users there tag their questions with both [ruby] and [ruby-on-rails], even though most such questions are not meaningful Ruby questions because they’re very Rails-centric. Ruby and Ruby on Rails are not synonyms: Rails is a framework built on top of Ruby, but is a superset that also monkey-patches many core classes. Tagging questions with both terms makes it practically useless to follow the Ruby tag on Stack Overflow, because your feed is then filled with a never-ending stream of Ruby on Rails questions.

Instead of simply following the Ruby tag, experienced Rubyists are forced to create Boolean search queries to filter out Rails questions, making the tag close to useless from a UI perspective. While Ruby/Rails is perhaps a more extreme example, I think the same issue applies to agile/Scrum tags too.

Use Tags That Frame the Question, Not Its Answers

In general, a more-specific tag is preferable to a more generic one. While there can be edge cases, a question about Scrum is not the same as a question about generic agile practices, so having both tags on the same question rarely makes sense. The reverse is also true: a question about agile-in-general might benefit from a Scrum-related answer, but is almost never seeking a Scrum-specific solution.

Questions should be tagged based on the OP's specific context and cognitive framework, not based on the answers a question collects. Tags should be informative and contextual, not aspirational or (in most cases) retconned.

There are always edge cases, so people should use good judgement. In general, though, generic tags should be avoided when a more specific tag exists.

  • That does not make sense at all. Take SO as an example... how many tags would I need to favorite to just have the .NET questions show up on my radar, if the advice is "never ever tag them .NET, when a more specific tag exists"? And how would the asker know if their solution is specific to [ASP.NET-MVC] or just generic .NET? The whole point of the question is that they don't know. So tag with as many tags as seems appropriate. I think a question is very well tagged with (for example) [C#][.NET][ASP.NET-MVC], although the most specific tag pretty much includes at least one of the other two. – nvoigt May 8 at 8:51

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