Do users properly use tags?


When I migrated my forum from phpBB to Discourse, I decided not to use tags, convinced that the users wouldn’t use them properly, hence resulting in a half-functional tool, unless a staff user would constantly add themselves tags on other’s topics.

It was because I myself wouldn’t know how to properly use tags on some forums I frequented. I often would leave this field blank. I thought the title and categories would be enough and the search would do a good job with these two fields (+ the message content). I wondered if this or that tag would or wouldn’t fit.
It made me think about how to use this field when I just had to fill a title and content, which was a very familiar and straightforward thing to do.

(removed a bit of text since I misunderstood some page purpose)

What are your own experience using tags? Do your users use them properly?
(So to be a bit more specifical, my thread is more about your experience of using tags as users and admins than a discussion about tags usefulness)


One thing that could help is making tagging mandatory (it’s a category-level setting) and creating some tags ahead of time so there are options to choose from. I think the most successful communities I’ve seen using tags require at least one.

I think you’re right though, as a topic author it can be easy to skip the field entirely… especially if you’re new to a community and you haven’t used tags that much previously. It’s hard to know what’s useful and you’d rather do nothing versus getting it wrong.


I have a couple of categories in my community with mandatory tags. The form to create a post still says “optional tag” though.
Also, I’m requiring tags from a specific tag group. But when you click into the tags field during topic creation, you get suggestions for all kinds of tags. Members don’t necessarily know how to find one of the required tags.
I think it would be helpful to make the suggestions smarter or indicate tags that are in a (required) tag group.


I use tags on my friendly Discourse, because everyone there is encouraged to treat it like Wikipedia, be bold, and higher trust levels are actively encouraged (we are a small group, 50 users total) to edit posts for a better experience; sometimes that means tags. This same instance I use as a database to feed static sites content, so I use tags for that.

On my worky Discourse we don’t use tags. Projects get their own categories, and search does the rest.

On my personal Discourse I don’t use tags. They’d be just for me, and I have broad categories to serve as inboxes.

On most other Discourse instances, no tags. I don’t think they are useful unless they are intentional, meaning prepared tag groups or a community spirit that embraces them. Tag groups work really well for company support forums, where there are many sub-products, for instance.



On our install of Discourse we have set mainly Unique Tags in Categories. Some tags are used across Categories.

In our case for Example cross category tags like: Review, Youtube, Article, Français and Espãnol (Language Tags in this case 2 as we have a fair number of French and Spanish users. Some of our members provide Translations for non native English members).

Our site is primarily a VR Tech site. Tags as others have mentioned can be set to have a number of Mandatory Tags.

Educating your members on use can help immensely.

We’re still fetching out our layout. But it is progressing nicely.