We currently have the two tags and of which the first is used erratically.

I would like to suggest removing . What are your thoughts?

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    Just for clarification: I did downvote, but not because your question is bad (it’s very good, imho!), but because voting on a Meta question tagged discussion is customarily used as an expression of “I agree / disagree with the suggestion”. – Stephie Aug 4 at 8:08

I think you're technically correct, but I wouldn't remove yet. Yes, it's a meta tag, but for now, it may be the best solution. Some thoughts:

  • One purpose of a tag is to frame the subject to orient the reader or potential reader. Preparation is typically a specific and important step of the process, and not everyone has the same expertise or interest in that aspect. Knowing that the question focuses on preparation can influence whether someone thinks it's a question they want to investigate, so some form of preparation-related tag can serve the function of screening or attracting appropriate readers and is beneficial.

  • The existing one is a meta tag in that it needs to be used in combination with a subject tag, and that usually isn't the best practice. On A&C, though, that isn't as big a problem as on some of the large, technical sites. When used in combination with a subject tag, it will usually serve its purpose for this user base.

  • One thing that can make meta tags a problem is that they can be too broad. If you try to use them in a search, much of what is returned will be noise for you. At the other extreme, tags can be too specific or granular. You don't want to have to do multiple searches to capture everything of interest. Also, if tags are associated with only a few questions, they tend not to get used on other questions when appropriate, and people don't think to use them in searches, so they don't provide a lot of benefit.

    Tagging is a balancing act. A&C doesn't yet have a lot of questions. If we had granular, subject+preparation tags at this point, they would mostly have just a few questions each, which wouldn't be a net benefit.

I think the most benefit at this stage will come from keeping tag usage clean, so searches don't return unnecessary noise. For example, on several of the and one of the questions, the question didn't even relate to preparation; the tags were just decoration. I removed it on those.

Actually, even isn't a great tag. It's a little narrower, but it still isn't specific to a subject. When the question base gets to the point where it can support preparation tags by subject, we would probably want to appropriately retag both collections.

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  • I agree with [preparation] being an important step, but it is usually not an identifiable step, as any particular action could be regarded as preparatory. This also means it is no use as a search term, &c. [Surface-preparation] on the other hand addresses a practical problem, namely that the surface described is going to be the recipient of more/another material, and it needs sufficient bonding and support. It's not specific to a subject or material, but [painting], for example, isn't either, but it already sufficiently limits the interpretation of the question. – Joachim Aug 3 at 15:47

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