I know about this question: Can Stack Exchange employees understand French?

But I think the tags are more important than the message text, so I created a new question.

Tags are used in many ways, like finding the questions, finding similar questions (by SE engine), etc. I tagged my own questions in English, but I saw many questions are tagged using French words, which is expected in this community. But having two sets of overlapping tags is not very good, I think.

So, either StackExchange should have a way to equalize tags in different languages, or there should be rule about the language used in tags, (like only use French, or use both English and French) and that rule, in my opinion, should appear on the question authoring page, beside the tags text box.


3 Answers 3


The answer is the same as Quelle est la langue principale du site? What is the primary language of the site?

I've compiled a list of likely tags with English and French translations.

The Stack Exchange software can accommodate tag synonyms: you type a tag, and when you post the question the tag is automatically translated to another name. That way, we can have tags uniformly appear in one language while still allowing askers to type them in either language.

  • The tag synonyms is a good feature, and I expect it to do the following: convert tags to canonical forms, return expected results when searching for a synonym (like if I search for translation, it should look for traduction too), and give the user some way to look at the synonyms.
    – Iravanchi
    Aug 18, 2011 at 12:17
  • Convert to canonical forms: that's what it's for; return expected results: works; look at the synonyms: I think only moderators can view the full list. Aug 18, 2011 at 12:25
  • 1
    @Gilles, wrong (I think), the link is at the bottom of the tags page...
    – Benjol
    Aug 18, 2011 at 13:45
  • That's good, how can this be populated? Your list of tags can be added to this synonym list for a starter.
    – Iravanchi
    Aug 18, 2011 at 15:16

I think consistency is probably the most useful thing here. Tag synonyms can probably be used to keep a bilingual feel to all the tagging though.

I'm not 100% sure if tag synonyms can be mutual at all, e.g. traduction as a synonym of translation and vice versa. That would probably be the ideal solution, if it is possible without major changes.

The tag wiki itself could be used to help keep the tags meaningful to users who are much stronger in one language than the other.


We have to keep in mind that tags are important for finding our questions and answers by Google or other search engines.

This speaks in favour of using English tags in case we want to address an English speaking audience. I don't know if tag synonyms will be included in searches from engines - I'm afraid they are not.

In addition, by using English tags and French titles we may be able to get better search results from engines when people may find us by searching in both, English and French.

  • I would expect people searching for information about French to search in French! Aug 19, 2011 at 9:10
  • I did some testing on GL&U to find out that the position of search results considerably improved when adding possible English search terms (in additions to German titles), e.g. in tags.
    – Takkat
    Aug 19, 2011 at 9:17
  • Were you searching on google.com or google.de? And with what languages settings? (AFAIK both the choice of server and the language settings matter.) Aug 19, 2011 at 9:39
  • Wait, GL&U uses English tags, so obviously using those tags in your search would help. What conclusions were you testing with your searches then? Aug 19, 2011 at 9:44
  • yeah - it was in no way a scientific SEO research (as you say there are so many factors that influence results) but tags played an important role with not much difference on .de, .com, and in Chrome Incognito Mode (to ged rid of my personal cache). I don't think we want to miss people that search using English terms.
    – Takkat
    Aug 19, 2011 at 9:47
  • Obviously searches for questions with German titles could only be found by using English search terms when they were tagged in English.
    – Takkat
    Aug 19, 2011 at 9:50
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    Maybe there needs to be a feature for StackExchange to include synonyms in the page when it is indexed by search engines, or even when displayed to users. This can result in good search results when searched in either English or French.
    – Iravanchi
    Aug 19, 2011 at 13:11

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