Recent discussions about tag synonyms prompted me to check whether we have an emerging consensus about the structure of our tagging system, or whether things are still in flux.
I tried to review all 262 tags (including synonyms) that were in use a few days ago, and some things stood out.
We tag consistently for date, place and technology
By which I mean
Tagging to specify the time period/historical event to which a question relates, either by identifying the relevant century/decade or by specifying a well-known historical event such as US-Civil-War, WW1, WW2 or the Holocaust.
Tagging to specify the place to which a question relates, to the level of country, state or county, city as appropriate.
Tagging to identify a specific technology (e.g. software, website, dna, gedcom) or package/website (e.g. ancestry.com, family-tree-maker).
We're somewhat confused about tagging for events/attributes and sources
By which I mean:
Tagging for an event/attribute associated with an ancestor (e.g. birth, imprisonment, military service, occupation, cause-of-death).
Tagging for the sources supporting some aspect of research.
Some of us tag with the event/attribute etc. Some of us tag with the records associated with the event/attribute (e.g. birth-record, court-records, military-records). And some of us tag with a specific class of source (e.g. bmd-certificates, grave-marker, manifest, newspaper) rather than the more generic xxx-records, complicated by the fact that in some cases generic synonyms have been created inconsistently (e.g. birth-certificate resolves to birth-record, but bmd-certificates resolves to vital-records).
There's no structure that I can discern for tags about the research process
We've got a bunch of tags related to the research process and documenting and sharing the results, including standards/best practice guidelines that I haven't had the time to dig into deeply, but which incorporate concepts such as source, citation, proof, information, evidence, date name and numbering standards as well as research skills & techniques and elements of the research process such as locating-records, interpreting-records, record-keeping, sharing, transcriptions, palaeography, ... Some of these tags are high-level, some of them very granular, some of them overlap.
We've got some very very specialised tags
To take two examples at random, kataster and geneatheology
All of which is a long-winded way of saying: I think we need to take a step backwards, understand as a community what the purpose of our tags is and then identify a structure that will meet that purpose. Once we've got a structure in mind, we can create synonyms and/our prune tags to move us toward that structure.
Editing note: I deliberately haven't linked to any of the tags to make this more readable, and because I'd like to focus on structure rather than the value or otherwise of individual tags.