Recently I added the tag 'visualisation' to this question on displaying multiple layers in one map. I also think it should be added to this recent question about cartograms.

I figured I would ask the community though their opinion. Is there any benefit to adding the visualisation tags to these questions?

I'm also not quite sure what the tag 'map' is for, but that may be worth another question. I suppose my fear is (and this is related to the map tag as well) that practically every other question could be give the label visualization, because this is basically the point of any map produced to a greater or lesser extent. Should the visualisation tag be referred to only questions that ask for applied knowledge about visualization (i.e. how should I display this) as opposed to what is this called or how to do x with y (which may involve visualizing info but not necessarily deal with why you should visualize info in a particular way)? I'm kind of lost in even trying to formulate the question!

  • Are we standardizing on American english for spelling? (visualize or visualise?) Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 17:08
  • @Kirk, I don't particular care, and hence see no reason to change it from what it currently is. If we need cross-site compatability for tags it may need to be changed. Also I think you should open your response to this question as a new question, it should get more exposure that way.
    – Andy W
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 18:38
  • @andy w, Done. I guess we should be sure to make synonyms. I just tried to suggest a synonym for visualisation (visualization), but I was denied. It says I must have a score of at least 5 to suggest. Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 18:58
  • @Kirk That interface is rough: I also tried to suggest the synonym, but it has to exist first! So, I forcibly edited one of the "visualisation" questions to create the new tag, then returned and suggested the synonym :-).
    – whuber
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 18:26
  • @Kirk, "s" or "z": I personally prefer s, because that's what I grew up with and it give me less of a bump when I'm reading. It's certainly the opposite for others. As for which to use in tags I just go with the one with the most weight; if there are 10 z's and 3 s's, z wins. Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 21:56
  • @Matt If we could get synonyms working, I think this would be a non-issue. According to this accepted answer though, tags should follow US english spelling. Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 22:27
  • @Kirk as far as I know synonyms are working; what are you seeing that I am not? Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 4:48
  • @matt Sorry, instead of "get synonyms working", I meant to say "get accustomed with creating synonyms". My first try (mentioned above) I was a bit confused. I'll keep an eye out for a potential synonym. Someone beat me to digitising. Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 13:32
  • OK, after reviewing this page the process is a bit clearer. Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 13:34

3 Answers 3


As long as you have a defensible rationale for adding a tag -- other than "why not?" -- then it is probably fine.

Most of the bad tags we see are "just because" tags that people added out of a misguided sense of, well, if 2 tags is good, then 5 tags is more than twice as good!

Some guidelines:

  1. can you imagine someone browsing all questions in this tag, or subscribing to this tag via email or RSS, for any reason?

  2. would this tag work as the only tag on a questions?


Take a look at the 2K+ questions already asked, because they suggest the scope and nature of future questions. Few actually ask about maps per se or about visualizations. They concern how to do specific processes--data generation, data manipulation, data transfer, and many kinds of analysis--and how to do and understand GIS operations and analyses. The latter often lead to a map eventually, but do not directly concern the production of a map. Thus, on the whole, both "map" and "visualization" may be sufficiently narrow to provide useful distinguishing information.

(I wonder, though, what distinction is intended between these two tags, because every map is a visualization. A better division might be between "map" and "non-map graphical display of data." Perhaps "cartography" would be a better term than "map.")

To @Jeff's guidelines I would propose a third:

(3) Would this tag help discriminate usefully among items identified by means of other tags?

  • +1 cartography is a better tag than "map".
    – underdark
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 18:18
  • @Underdark I made "map" a synonym for "cartography" and deleted a small number of "map" tags from questions where it obviously does not apply.
    – whuber
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 18:32
  • @whuber I've voted for the synonym on the wiki page.
    – underdark
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 21:42
  • @underdark Thanks. Consider voting for synonyms of "raster" (="grid") and "visualisation," (spelling variant) too. We need four votes to make them effective.
    – whuber
    Commented Mar 23, 2011 at 22:13
  • @whuber Done. .
    – underdark
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 7:34
  • I merged raster/grid and visuali[sz]ation. I didn't act or vote for the carto/map synonym as I'm not sure what I think about that yet. Cartography, to me, implies a map created with a tighter level of discipline, with more care and attention to detail. "Cartography" is also more of a verb, with the map as the resultant product. One practices or trains in cartography, where "map" as a verb implies going out in the field and drawing what you see. Or something liket that (as I said, I don't know my own mind yet!) Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 21:51
  • @Matt I did not intend to say that "raster" and "visualisation" should be synonyms of each other! I meant that "raster" and "grid" are synonyms and "visualization" and "visualization" are also synonyms. I hope you can undo that merger: raster/grid refers to a whole host of questions pertaining to analysis and processing of raster data, whereas visualization refers to graphical representation of quantitative information--two completely different things.
    – whuber
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 22:08
  • No, that should read: I merged "raster and grid", and "visualisation and visualization", two seperate and unrelated actions. Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 22:17
  • @matt I'm relieved; sorry I misunderstood you!
    – whuber
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 22:23

Personally I think more than a handful of tags is too many. If it feels like it needs more, the question is too wide ranging and doesn't have enough focus. At a certain point they become just another word, and that's what [search] is for.

If you feel an urge to yet another tag to the list, maybe it should go in the body of the text instead. For example when I talk about rasters I often also make sure to use the word image. It wouldn't be appropriate to use both as tags, just adds noise, and they're certainly not synonyms but as long as both are in the text it gives a handle for people coming from either direction to find the discussion.

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