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I've noticed quite a variety of varying styles used in our tag wiki summaries. Here are an example of a few (English translation below):

La question fait référence à un mot, une expression ou un texte en anglais.
The question references a word, an expression, or a text in English.

Pour les questions concernant l'équivalent d'un mot d'une autre langue en français (ou inversement).
For questions concerning the equivalent of another language's word in French (or vice versa).

On appelle usages les règles informelles qui régissent le langage spontané, par opposition aux règles énoncées par des autorités normatives officielles ou de fait. Les usages sont sujet à des évolutions rapides et sont en général difficiles à formaliser.
We call 'usages' the informal rules that govern spontaneous language, as opposed to rules announced by the formal authorities or the de facto standards. The 'usages' are subject to rapid evolution and are generally difficult to formalize.

Un groupe de mots qui constitue une unité syntaxique.
A group of words that constitutes a syntactic unity.

La grammaire est l'étude systématique des éléments constitutifs d'une langue.
Grammar is the systematic study of the components of a language.

L’orthographe désigne l'ensemble des normes qui règlent la façon d'écrire dans une langue. Cela comprend l'orthographe lexicale, qui concerne les mots indépendamment du contexte et l'orthographe grammaticale (ou morphologique) qui concerne les règles de flexion de ces mots dans un contexte de phrase.
Orthography designates the group of norms which regulate how to write in a language. This includes lexical orthography, which deals with words independent from context, and grammatical (or morphological) orthography, which deals with the rules of inflection of these words in the context of a sentence.

La prononciation d'un mot est la façon de le dire oralement.
The pronunciation of a word is the way in which to say it orally.

Questions sur des mots d’intérêt historique
Questions on words of historical interest

This summary will appear next to the tag in the popup when the user types in part of a tag, so they will be treated to a list of several tags with these summaries below them. I think it would be good if we decided upon a standard format for these things before they get out of hand. :-)

There are several different styles used above. Some start by saying something like "this tag is about...", or "use this tag when..."; some start by repeating the tag itself: "Grammar is ...". There are also a couple there which I would say are too long and are not really "summaries"; a 25 word limit should usually be appropriate.

On the English Language & Usage site, they usually just jump right in to the description of the tag, with no repeating of the tag name at the beginning. There's also no need to say stuff like "this tag is for...", because that's already known to people who know how to use tags. So, for example, the EL&U entry for pronunciation:

The sounds, intonation, and stress of how words are uttered or produced.
Les sons, l'intonation, et le stress de comment des mots sont prononcées.

My proposal would be that we try to keep our tag wiki summaries to summaries; short snippets quickly giving a clue as to how to use the tag. So our policy should be the following:

A tag wiki summary should be a short description of what the tag specifically refers to. It should not begin by repeating the tag name, or phrases such as "this tag refers to...", but rather it should immediately begin describing the tag. One should also try, if possible, to avoid repeating the tag word being described; rather, try to describe it using other words. For example, the tag for prononciation should be much closer to Les sons, l'intonation, et l'accentuation avec lesquels les mots sont parlés. than Le tag pour prononciation est utilisé quand on veut dire les sons, l'intonation, et l'accentuation avec lesquels les mots sont prononcées.

The summary should also be relatively brief. It should be no longer than 25 words unless absolutely necessary (and in that case an entry should be posted on FL&U Meta explaining why this longer summary is needed), and it should end with a period/full stop.

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    I can't accept this question as its own answer, but I would :) – Benjol Aug 29 '11 at 12:45
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A tag wiki summary should be a short description of what the tag specifically refers to. It should not begin by repeating the tag name, or phrases such as "this tag refers to...", but rather it should immediately begin describing the tag. One should also try, if possible, to avoid repeating the tag word being described; rather, try to describe it using other words.

I agree that this style is most likely preferable for excerpts - this is also the style which we've been moving towards in other sites. We called it the "Dictionary" method on Gaming, in that it is similar to how definitions are listed in a dictionary. In short - skip to the point rather than add extraneous starter material.

Repeating the term is, in the vast majority of cases, pointless. The tag wiki excerpt is always viewed alongside seeing the actual tag - as such, the term being explained is already implicit without needing to explicitly name it. Furthermore, the majority of tag words don't even need explanation of the term - people already know what the dictionary definition of words like... well, I assume they would be "history", "usage", and "punctuation" to name a couple that I am guessing on. This lends even less need to repeat the name of the word, and more focus that the tag wiki excerpt should describe the usage of the tag on your site.

There's also no need to say stuff like "this tag is for...", because that's already known to people who know how to use tags.

This also brings up another point, courtesy the tags page. Because all your wikis are in French, you don't run into it that often, but there is a Regex that will strip away introduction bits like "this tag is for" when on that page. As such, it's even mechanically encourages to "get to the point", as doing so will avoid any awkward results of any cropping. We're not likely to alter the Regex to affect other languages, but as a matter of practice, avoiding the terminology that is affected by the Regex helps make your entire system much more consistent.

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Since this site has posts in both French and English, tag wikis and excerpts should be bilingual. We should standardize on the existing format for bilingual tag excerpts:

French description / English description

e.g. :

Comment exprimer le contraire d'une affirmation ; les formes grammaticales de la négation. / How to express the opposite of a statement; grammatical forms of negation.

Please remember that the point of an excerpt is to define the tag, not the concept. Defining the word is only useful if the meaning isn't clear. This is a general-public site, not a site for experts in linguistics, so avoid overly technical jargon, especially in excerpts.

The translation doesn't have to be word-for-word. For example, if a concept makes immediate sense to a native French speaker but needs more explanations for others, the English excerpt may need more material.


Puisque ce site contient des messages à la fois en anglais et en français, les présentations et les wikis principaux des étiquettes devraient être bilingues. Nous avons un standard de fait pour les présentations d'étiquettes bilingues :

Description en français / Description en anglais

Ex.  :

Comment exprimer le contraire d'une affirmation ; les formes grammaticales de la négation. / How to express the opposite of a statement; grammatical forms of negation.

Merci de garder à l'esprit que la description d'une étiquette sert à définir l'étiquette et non le concept. Une définition issue du dictionnaire n'a de sens que si le nom de l'étiquette n'est pas un concept courant. Ce site est destiné au grand public et non aux seuls experts en linguistique, il convient donc de limiter voire d'éviter le jargon technique, surtout dans les descriptions courtes.

Les textes anglais et français ne sont pas forcément des traductions mot-à-mot. Par exemple, si un concept est évident pour un locuteur natif mais demande plus d'explications pour un étranger, la description en anglaise pourra être plus étoffée.

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