Make tags obligatory, and introduce tag hierarchy?

We should require at least one tag for new forum topics, I already added the imagej tag to three new posts today that were untagged.

In addition, you can create tag groups and define common parent tags for certain groups. For example, how about putting some common ImageJ plugins (trackmate, trakem2, 3d-viewer, bonej, analyze-particles, …) as well as ImageJ-related projects (fiji) into a group and making the parent tag imagej? This way, all posts tagged with one of the plugin tags would also require the imagej tag to be present (thus assuring their listing in the imagej feed). Likewise for other projects and their specific plugins.

What do you think?


I think :+1: about this. Not sure how

ETA: Looking at the mod settings for the CP forum (I’m not a mod here yet- soon!), there is an implementation for max tags but I didn’t see one for min tags. It might need to be custom-implemented by Discourse (or socially enforced).

I think if we do this though, we need to be thoughtful about how we categorize our tags- we don’t want to require only tags about particular tools, for example, since part of the point is to allow people to post saying “here’s my image, here’s my question, how do I do it?”


@bcimini I was able to make you an admin last night, so you should have all powers again. Let me know if there is something you cannot do, that you should be able to do.

@imagejan I agree with all your suggestions. And I agree with Beth that we should think a bit carefully about the structure. There is a trust level threshold over which people may create new tags—I definitely think we want to allow most people to be able to do that. For some of the new software projects joining the forum, we may want to “precreate” some tags there, to avoid bootstrapping pain.

Here is a Discourse thread discussing mandatory tagging:

It looks like the feature was recently added.


Good day Curtis and others!

I fear that we a running into a considerable problematic situation …

  1. Concerning questions:
    Concerning solutions for image processing, it may appear adequate to ask in a tool/label agnostic fashion.
    If however someone is somehow bound to a certain tool she needs to use the correct label. If this isn’t done, we shall be confronted with confusion and irrelevant posts.

  2. Concerning answers/help:
    Many of us are competent to answer questions concerning a rather small subset of the tools that are now being discussed on the Forum. Already with the previous ImageJ-related Forum the scope was rather large ImageJ-1, ImageJ-2, Ops, Fiji, BoneJ, etc. and personally I wasn’t always clear about what posters had in mind, especially if a reasonable label was missing. This is no fun for those who want to help.
    Now, after the merge, entropy is considerably increasing.
    I see no way to force posters to use the correct label for their questions. Well understood, it is not sufficient to force posters to use labels, they must be the correct labels (but who knows…). Otherwise, if I select e.g. ImageJ in my Forum-setting, I may not see see posts that I can answer.

Perhaps an obligatory label “tool agnostic” image processing (or no label at all) would help those who don’t care or don’t know about the tools and this label will be agnostic to the choice someone has made in her Forum-setting.

In any case an unlabeled post should appear independent of the Forum-setting, which isn’t presently the case!



I have now set the minimum tag count to 1 for the categories Image Analysis, Usage & Issues, and Development. This will hopefully get users to browse the top tags and add one that makes sense.

However, I do not think mandatory tagging is sufficient to fully address the issue of poor tagging quality. The only way I see to fully address it is for members of the forum team to edit posts improving the tags as their time and interest allows.

There are some technical things we could do, though, to make things smoother. For example, in the future, we will probably be able to auto-tag posts based on their content. So e.g. if someone writes “ImageJ” in the title or body of the post, the imagej tag could be automatically added. And similar for the other software partners. This auto-tagging feature has already been requested by other Discourse users, and it seems likely to be added in the future; see this topic for details:

@anon96376101 One option for now is to simply monitor tags like imagej that interest you, and rely on others to add tags to topics when they are missing but appropriate.

Alternately, one way to catch “software agnostic” questions is to bookmark a search that excludes posts tagging specific software packages. For example, it appears to work to search for #image-analysis status:noreplies -tags:cellprofiler-analyst,cellprofiler to list all Image Analysis topics with no replies yet that are not tagged with cellprofiler or cellprofiler-analyst.

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Thanks Curtis!

Option 1 is not acceptable since at least ImageJ and Fiji are of interest because, as we all know, the latter is advertised as being essentially the former plus…

Option 2 is clumsy.

In short: Big is beautiful these days but not always user-friendly.

Sunny greetings


I created a tag group for ImageJ encompassing several tags including imagej1, imagej2 and fiji. I also created a similar one for CellProfiler. The parent tag for ImageJ is imagej and the parent tag for CellProfiler is cellprofiler. The description for parent tag says “Tags from this group can’t be used unless the parent tag is present.”

My hope was that this would cause the parent tag to be automatically appended whenever one of the tags in the group was used. Unfortunately, in my quick test, it did not seem to work that way.

How to achieve this result would be a good question to post on for someone with sufficient time and interest, since it would e.g. make all fiji tagged posts appear in the imagej feed.

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I noticed that after trying to tag a post with fiji, but not imagej, the tag wasn’t added in fact: after reloading the post, the fiji tag was missing.
Only after adding both fiji and imagej, the tags were persistent.

I’ll try to report it on when I find the time later today.


Hi, thanks for adding the tags for my post, I got a phone call , and posted with the hope to add tags later… Thanks for adding them for me! Is the policy to add as many free tag as you want? You could also consider adding Edam Bioimaging for image processing related terms:

I noticed that too. For now, I deleted the parent tags from the ImageJ and Fiji tag groups, to avoid this problem, since the disappearing tag behavior violates PoLA.

In principle I think it makes a lot of sense to integrate one or more ontologies here. However:

  1. Users should be allowed to free tag in addition to choosing existing tags. New concepts and ideas come up frequently.
  2. I personally do not have the bandwidth to research how to integrate these ontologies into the forum. (A quick web search turned up nothing useful I could find.) A motivated person could follow up on starting a topic about how best to achieve ontology/tag integration. Maintaining the integrity of the ontologies—e.g., regularly merging free tags that mean the same thing, and/or updating ontology definitions based on new tags emerging from forum topics—is non-trivial work, and someone would need to be pledged to do it.

With that in mind, if there are motivated people who want to be ontology integrators/curators here, that would be awesome.