I have a general proposal that I would like the community here to discuss in answers to this posting, and if there is consensus agreement, to please help out with what is proposed.
Why gramática Is Not a Helpful Tag
Today I went through questions tagged gramática and where possible, replaced that tag with more specific ones that I hoped would be more informative.
I see two different problems with the gramática tag:
- By itself, gramática tells you nothing about what the question is about. This is the more important of the two problems.
- People use gramática as a general tag for anything related to language, including things completely unrelated to grammar like spelling, capitalization, punctuation, diacritical markings, and meaning.
Jeff Atwood wrote in The Death of Meta Tags:
The reason meta-tags are a problem is that they do not describe the content of the question. [...] 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.
From this point on, meta-tagging is explicitly discouraged.
How can you tell you're using a meta-tag? It's easier than you might think.
If the tag can't work as the only tag on a question, it's probably a meta-tag. Every tag you use should be able to work, more or less, as the only tag on a question. [...]
If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it's probably a meta-tag.
The two points that Jeff makes correspond directly to the two problems I indicated. I believe that we should avoid the gramática tag because it tells you nothing, because it cannot stand alone, and because it means different things to different people.
A Suggestion for the Future
So what should we do?
First and foremost, we should be reasonable and understanding about this. Many people will not understand why their question “really isn’t about grammar”, or that even if it should happen to be so, that the gramática meta-tag is not a tag that actually helps anyone.
It is also important to realize that “grammar” may be the most specific term that the person asking the question is familiar with. So they are doing their best, and we should accept and understand this.
However, I believe that it will be important to future visitors of our site for us to edit the tags to replace uses of the gramática meta-tag with better tags that better describe the question.
Everyone on the site is encouraged to help out with this effort.
Here are the guidelines I was using for myself:
Tags should be in Portuguese, although we will make English synonyms for these.
Very generally speaking, plural forms are preferred over singular ones, so for example conjugações not just conjugação. Sometimes this does not apply, but often it does. We will make synonyms between the singular and plural forms as needed.
When the technical linguistic term most commonly used in Portugal for something differs from the one most commonly used in Brazil for the same thing, we will make tags for both versions and again make them synonyms.
There might be times when no better tag (yet?) comes to mind but the gramática tag is the only one currently on the question, so cannot be deleted. In those cases, we should leave it in place until we get a better idea about it.
As with any tags, we should eventually fill in the tag wiki excerpt and text for each of these, but it is more important right now to get them out there and used. When we do edit the wikis, let’s please be careful to use our own words and not just copy stuff from elsewhere.
One last thing.
I went through a great many questions today to improve the gramática tags, and I believe I may have made a few errors or at least poor decisions in my haste. I will review these over the weekend, but if anyone finds any mistakes before I do, please accept my apologies and feel free to go ahead and fix them. This should be a collaborative effort.