The question How to easy search (using tags) - using * ? has already shown a way how to use asterisks (*) with tags for better search.

But assuming an example of "Is there a way how to search for really ALL questions concerning e.g. ArcGIS" when they do not have a tag [arcgis-desktop] and

  1. you do not want to search for all tags that are connected with AcGIS and them type them all manually using "or" in between and
  2. do not want to use (only) [arcgis*] or [arc*] because it just do not cover them all - see tags like [modelbuilder] that do not contain "arc" or "arcgis" in the name of the tag but are surely connected with ArcGIS

is there some different/better/faster way?

There has been some questions about grouping tags or making hierarchies on main meta (like Can we group, constrain and add heirarchy to tags? or New special group of tags for StackOverflow) as well as a number of "favourite tags" issues which goes to something else. The two first mentioned look not to be popular enough nor received without doubts. And also there are more views how to (not) use them.

E.g. groupping tags that are connected with certain software would surely be a one solution for this.

  • How is the search going to know that something is ArcGIS related if there is no arcgis tag or mention of arcgis in the question? The search function can only search for text or tags that exist on a question. If they're not there then it can't do it
    – Midavalo Mod
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


I am not sure of the value in trying to treat tags as if they are optimized for search.

From What are tags, and how should I use them?:

A tag is a word or phrase that describes the topic of the question. Tags are a means of connecting experts with questions they will be able to answer by sorting questions into specific, well-defined categories.

Having worked with tags on a number of SE sites and seen them being used by many thousands of SE users in a multitude of ways, it seems clear to me that tags are multi-purpose and very difficult (I think impossible) to try and straight-jacket into a set of rules that suit all. At one time, I liked the idea of trying to construct a tag hierarchy where users could use it at the level of their choice but I soon realized that such a tree does not simply branch but quickly becomes hopelessly entangled.

That is why I think it is best to talk about tagging guidelines (and not tagging rules). If a set of guidelines generally work then people will use them; and if they do not then I would expect to see them either evolve into something more useful or fall into disuse.

The above notwithstanding, tags can be very useful for finding sets of questions of interest to you, if questions are tagged consistently, either by the asker of a question, or by those who later improve it.

For example, you said:

see tags like [modelbuilder] that do not contain "arc" or "arcgis"

and this causes Tagging ArcGIS questions? no concerns because it recommends that ModelBuilder questions be first tagged with :

For an ArcGIS question I recommend always using one or more of these [product] tags so that it shows up in the tag favourites of people who specialise in them rather than in a much bigger bucket.

If you want to land a ModelBuilder question in a much smaller bucket then also tag it with too.

  • typing arcgis -[arcgis-desktop] gives 16,669 results, [arcgis*] gives 25,712 results
    – Abc1
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 18:24
  • [arc*] gives 30,442 results AND that is the exactly the same number as if typing [arc*] -[arcgis*] (link is too long for comment to enter)
    – Abc1
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 18:28
  • @Abc1 tags are not optimized for search. Perhaps what you need to look into is the Stack Exchange Data Explorer
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 20:12

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