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Meta or "talk" for tags, tag aliasing

My basic suggestion is to posit that every tag on Cohost should have a talk page, or some kind of meta discussion page, associated with it. A way to flag your use of a tag as a "meta" use of the tag, which may be given a different background or other indication of its meta nature and filtered by default. You could unfilter this by selecting to unfilter meta discussions on the feed for that tag, or simply clicking to access a separate "meta" page for that tag. This is less in the style of a mediawiki talk page and more in Cohost's already established posting system; it's essentially your user page, except it's publically able to be posted on. If a page system is thought to be better, they would be auto-generated when the tag is created, and can be used as a hub for discussing the topic the tag itself is about, or, leading into my other proposal, used as a way to help the community curate a tag alias system by discussing mergers between tags.

There's two major ways I can see the tag aliasing system working, both with significant, though not necessarily opposed, pros and cons, and they do form a spectrum with each other to a degree:

Fully automatic: A formal tag merging system where it is clearly specified that tag X is to be merged with tag Y. The process is done with positive, neutral, and negative votes, and, after a certain amount of time or votes, the tag is either merged, if the vote is in the affirmative, or, if the vote is negative, proposals for that tag merge are not allowed for a certain period of time, but eventually allowed again, to allow for a change in context making merging a viable choice again. (I imagine the inverse is also true, context changing requiring a tag split, though that may be more technically frustrating because one tag may be forced to be a "parent" that inherits all the posts and another the "child" that is treated as brand new)

Pros: No additional fixed overhead for staff. The community will be able to moderate itself and make changes on its own. Potentially more expeditious in general, due to automated nature. Allows anonymous participation.

Cons: Vulnerable to potential abuse and vandalism, especially with sock puppetry and alts coming into play. Would also require making fixed choices for how long a merging discussion should be, how many people need to be involved, etc. etc. so the computer can determine a reasonable schedule for merging tags.

Fully manual: The tag's page simply has a post in it, acting as an asynchronous town hall meeting, and consensus is reached by simply discussing it and coming to a natural conclusion. The request is then offered to staff, who will make the final decision on a tag merge.

Pros: Feels more in the spirit of Cohost as a platform driven by human instead of computer autonomy, and naturally gives more weight to the opinions of those with more experience and/or interest with the tags, as they will be more verbal and active in discussions.

Cons: Potentially turns away those not interested in public exposure but have an opinion, that an anonymous counted vote would not. Adds extra overhead to staff by requiring manual moderation and intervention.

TL;DR: Create pages for tags at the same time new tags are created by cohost users, or allow certain uses of a tag to be "meta", allow those to be used as either platforms for general discussion of the topic of the tag, as well as ways for the community to propose appropriate tag merges in a relatively centralized way.

Thank you for reading this relatively long proposal. I think the lack of tag aliasing can make it difficult for people to centralize their discussions, and hurts discovery. The obvious example is the many, many global feed-style tags. Allowing tag communities to find and merge with each other should make Cohost a more vibrant and active place in general, without compromising the vision of a community, instead of algorithmically, driven space.

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I am personally more in favor of tag merging and such being something that is managed on an individual user basis rather than voted on by users as a whole. Something like being able to create and save tag groupings to save space in your bookmarked tags list, or being able to create multiple "reading lists" of pages and tags that you can switch between, or other such individual-user-side features that let you clump tags together at your leisure. I'm also in favor of not making tags into discussion spaces - I prefer the decentralized feel that they have right now, where people can more or less dump stuff in without worrying too much about learning the rules of that specific tag. I think there can be a benefit to having discussion spaces, but I'd prefer those to be their own feature (think communities on Pillowfort) instead of coupled with the tag system.

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I actually didn't think of the idea of tags being bundleable on a per-user basis. That's not a bad suggestion in and of itself, and I think it would solve about 50% of my problem with how the tagging system is set up currently, which is, finding completely different posts under tags that are definitely the same thing (for an example that's a problem for me personally, "#OSRS" and "#old school runescape" have completely different people using them and generally weren't both used simultaneously until I thought to do it with a recent post I made).

The other 50% though, is that, while that would resolve the issue at an individual level, it doesn't necessarily solve the core problem I was positing; by suggesting a community-based system, I was trying to make it so disparate individuals can find each other (who are both interested in the same thing and are accidentally blind-firing right next to each other), without having the expertise with operating cohost necessary to find it themselves. IDK, I genuinely think that it may come down to how the community at large, and staff, decide what direction they want this to take. And it's not like your suggestion and mine are mutually exclusive or anything, if there isn't a topic about that already you should make one.

As far as making tags themselves into discussion spaces goes, that was suggested MAINLY as a way for people to organize communities, which is inherently a centralized thing, and yeah, as you suggest, it would probably cause "rules" to emerge, which I personally think would be a negligible issue overall (the cohost community doesn't seem to have a lot of weird power commandeering going on right now, but that may be because there's simply no mechanisms for it, even imaginary ones). Cohost, I think, does already support the kind of thing you're proposing already, in the sense that multiple users can author a single page, but it has to be done by working with staff directly at the moment, which, well, if I was a developer I would hate to make anything that requires my manual intervention to interface with, but I also don't think it's actually done yet.

But yeah, thanks for bringing up some counterpoints. I feel pretty strongly that the community should be involved as heavily as possible with major suggestions like mine, because there's no way I'm going to catch every perspective, contingency, and plan on my own.

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Thanks for the response! I think "rules of the tag" probably wasn't the best way to put it - it's less explicit rules, and more like... the difference between joining a Discord server for a fandom and posting to a tag on Tumblr/etc, if that makes sense? With one, there's more of a sense of joining a pre-existing space than the other, and that can be intimidating if your intent is just to post a neat thing you made with tags for visibility instead of Joining A Community.

Unified tags and merging tags together not only boosts visibility but increases community cohesion.

Unified tags also are how some art-posting sites do it, merging similar or synonymous tags into the same meta-tag to keep searches efficient and short, and keep visibility high and accessibility shortly after.

It would certainly require moderation and something of a special eye to make sure manipulation and abuse doesn't come from bad actors, if this is community decided. Goodness knows it'd be a pain in the ass to fully get EVERY SINGLE VARIANT OF A TAG under one umbrella on your own as one person, let alone as someone who's now PAID to do this.

It also helps since a gallery system is planned for cohost, and artists who use it.

Ultimately if this is to be implemented, while the changes are a net improvement and pave the groundwork for an extremely comfortable and streamlined experience, the "how" of implementing it is the biggest challenge and dealing with whatever methodology is implemented.

There are many sites that DESPERATELY NEED tag unification, Newgrounds being an example. Not only do you have a limit on how to tag your image, you now also have to cover your bases and tag multiple variants of the same tag. In all likelihood, anyone who really cares and patrols a tag and all its variants just does the unifying of said tags anyways. Helping bridge that gap and just doing it for both parties involved would be really, really time-saving and really, really handy.

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