One of my questions about peppers was recent retagged with
(please don't be side tracked by this, it's just what prompted the post)

Since I'm not particularly invested in this SE site, I'm just putting this out there for you lot (the local community) to discuss, but I don't think this is a very good tag, because it feels very much like a meta-tag to me.

Specifically, the identifying points of a meta tag are:

  • 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. Meta-tags, like [beginner], [subjective], and [best-practices], are useless by themselves — they tell you nothing at all about the content of the question.
  • If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it’s probably a meta-tag. In a cruel, ironic twist, the meaning of the tag [subjective] itself … is actually subjective. Ditto for [best-practices] and [beginner]. Best practices to whom? Beginner by what criteria? These tags are impossible to define by anything remotely resembling an objective metric. In comparison, the the meaning of tags like [java], [c#], and [javascript] are crystal clear to all but the nuttiest of nutbags.

The current tag wiki for indicates:

Use this tag for general questions about growing vegetables or for questions about a particular vegetable in combination with the specific tag for that vegetable.

Which makes it entirely clear that this tag shouldn't be used on it's own.

If a tag cannot be used on its own, is it useful?
Using my question as an example, it was already tagged , so what value does add?
If a question was just tagged , what would that question be about?

Really, is this much better than a theoretical tag?

  • Vegetable gardening is a significant aspect of gardening, and there is a tag 'vegetable-gardening'
    – M H
    Nov 6, 2020 at 4:43

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure I buy the whole "ooh! meta tag, let's burninate!" argument. I agree that on the trilogy, it's been (and is still) a problem with people creating tags like , , etc., but we haven't had that problem here and we've been actively killing such tags. I do not agree with (and this is not you in particular, but a popular sentiment on MSO and most other sites) that a tag has to stand on its own either.

I consider tags to be like parts of speech. Most tags are like nouns and verbs and make sense on their own. Some of them are like adverbs and adjectives. While they cannot stand on their own, they qualify the respective verb/noun greatly and hence are useful. What we need to kill are the prepositions and participles. They cannot stand on their own, and when used in conjunction with the nouns and verbs, you're like meh, I got the meaning anyway.

So no, I do not think this is a meta tag. Re: your second point, do you really think means something different to different people?

Coming to your specific question, there are some general questions on vegetables to grow in limited sunlight, thinning seedlings, row spacing of crops, identifying a pest attacking multiple seedlings etc., which really couldn't have been tagged with anything else to make it meaningful.

Here's my opinion on the tag . I see its use in the above general questions and for identifying situations where the specific advice for vegetables might be different from those for flowering plants/fruits. As an example, if I were to ask how often I should water my vegetable crops, I'd tag it ,. On the other hand, if I were to ask how often I should water my cherry tree, it'd be tagged , , . The reason is because the watering schedules are vastly different for the two categories (fruit trees & veggies) and just having a watering tag isn't all that helpful.

On the other hand, I do feel that it is sometimes forced upon questions which are about a specific crop, like , , etc. In that case, it is pretty clear what they are referring to and seems unnecessary (and let's not even get into the is tomato a fruit/vegetable).

However, the community has been consistently tagging/retagging all specific veggie crop questions with and specific tree questions with either or , and unless you have a case that it is harmful or utterly useless, I don't mind what they're doing.

  • 1
    The 2nd point isn't relevant here, I only added it because it's one of the two "accepted" definitions. But good call on the example questions and usages which use the tag as a primary, I'd missed those entirely and they alone pretty much invalidates my question. :) I still feel that it's very superfluous to have it against questions already tagged with a specific veg, but as said I consider myself something of an outsider here so I defer to the local community.
    – DMA57361
    Aug 24, 2011 at 15:50
  • Tagging with vegetables when it's tagged with lettuce lets people who follow the vegetables tag know about the post. Rather than stopping the tags, I might suggest making a new feature of implicit tags (so, lettuce implies vegetables without manually adding it). Implicit tags could be optional criteria you could toggle on/off when following or viewing a tag. Aug 9, 2018 at 18:45

My opinion:

  • It can stand on its own, for general-purpose vegetable gardening questions. Perhaps a poor example, but What is an easy vegetable to grow in a hot, dry summer / cool, wet winter climate? has just the veg tag. This one is similar: What vegetables can be grown effectively in a small, urban garden?. In addition, this question: How are wind flattened plants realigned?, is tagged with "wind-damage", which doesn't seem like it will see enough activity to survive as a tag.
  • It is useful for people who want to subscribe to without also having to subscribe to all of the various possible specific vegetable tags.
  • To the point in yoda's answer about the tag "being forced upon questions which are about a specific crop", I've retagged a few questions that are about specific crops where it seems to me that they may be applicable to the wider "vegetable growing" category. I've avoided retagging a few questions that were very narrowly focused on a particular vegetable. It's possible that I've been a bit too zealous about retagging.
  • Not to be sidetracked by DMA57361's example question, but using is as an example, I retagged it with because answers to a question about feeding peppers are likely to have applicability across the broader spectrum of growing vegetables in general. I've been trying to apply similar logic when retagging, but if I've gone too far, feel free to drop the tag from some questions. (@-message me a note in chat or here so I'm aware that I've overdone it and we can discuss it and/or I'll keep it in mind going forward.)
  • With respect to the tag wiki:

    Use this tag for general questions about growing vegetables or for questions about a particular vegetable in combination with the specific tag for that vegetable.

    (My emphasis.) The point being that it can be used alone, but if you are asking about something specific like corn or lettuce, it will be helpful to apply one of those tags.

  • You do not have to change/stop retagging. My comment was more from a user/observer perspective and did not intend to mean that it's wrong. Besides, I hadn't considered your point about subscribing to tags via RSS, in which case it would be helpful. Keep up the good work :) Aug 30, 2011 at 3:14

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