30

Country tags have a bit of a history on this site but the general consensus seems to be that they serve a useful purpose. Unfortunately, even when they are added to a question, they often end up ignored because many people don't check the tags before answering or commenting.

I thought that experienced users wouldn't fall for that but I just noticed that I've personally failed to notice a tag on a question I recently answered. I even guessed at the location based on the OP's name but never thought to check the tags.

So my suggestion is that these tags should receive some CSS love to make them visually distinct from the other tags. Our current site style is very clean and subtly emphasised tags shouldn't clutter it too much and would be a valuable visual aid.

Note: I've created this topic to see if there's enough interest in the general idea to explore this in further detail. Whether we can and how the tags should look is not relevant unless we've establish a consensus that's in favour of this change. Based on previous discussions on this topic, it should be possible. Monica mentions tag flags here1 and this meta already uses visually different tag types which means that it's technically possible.

Previous discussions on the topic:


1 - Monica expanded on this in her answer below. She was referring to using country flags as tag icons. Icons are in use as a form of sponsorship on StackOverflow tags

  • I made an userscript for those who need to highlight those tags. However there's currently no way to even get a list of country related tags. If you even want to start with this, you need naming and wiki contents convention. – Tomáš Zato May 10 '16 at 13:46
  • 1
    I have asked the same question at Academia.SE. If multiple sites have the same feature request, the good people at SE might look more kindly upon it. – S. Kolassa - Reinstate Monica May 11 '16 at 14:13
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    @StephanKolassa I think it could work at both Academia.SE and Expats.SE (I am a mod at both) and off the top of my head it might be useful at Travel.SE, Money.SE, and Law.SE. It might be better to ask on the Meta.SE. – StrongBad May 11 '16 at 23:17
  • 1
    @StrongBad: excellent suggestion. I have asked the question at Meta, linking here. – S. Kolassa - Reinstate Monica May 12 '16 at 7:41
  • Related at MSE (tag groups in general, not only countries -- other sites could benefit too): meta.stackexchange.com/q/278889/162102 – Monica Cellio May 12 '16 at 21:29
18

Making the country tags visually distinct in some way would be helpful. I, too, often miss these, and it matters.

I don't think we should just make them a different color/shade like for the four mandatory tags on meta sites, because that kind of color encoding already means "mandatory tag set" and that's not what we're doing with countries.1 (We should not require a country tag on every question; we should use it only where it is relevant.) Instead, I'd like to explore the flag-icon idea.

Stack Overflow, alone among SE sites (as far as I know), has sponsored tags, where somebody pays to add an icon to a tag (usually a company or product logo). The wiring for that exists everywhere, but it's not worthwhile for SE to sell advertising on sites other than SO.

We could ask to use the same machinery to display icons on country tags only. While arbitrary icons would cause confusion for people who've seen this on SO, thinking our icons are corporate sponsors too, I think a single, unambiguous icon -- such as a globe -- that's used on all the location tags would avoid that problem. An earlier version of this answer proposed using flags (so the tags would have different icons), but, on reflection, a single icon that signals "hey, there's a location tag here (so pay attention to it)" would be sufficient. I hope it would also be easier to manage.

1 I've rethought this since writing this answer; see this other answer for a way that colors could work.

  • I disagree as I feel that country flags might seem to indicate an 'alignment' with a country one does not feel a kinship with anymore. No offense to your answer, which is generally a well considered one, but I wish to register my disagreement. I would not want to be considered anything other than opposed to the current UK government, and their regime, whether regarding employment or general political action. – Peter David Carter May 2 '16 at 19:11
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    @PeterDavidCarter that had not occurred to me. Does a tag icon convey personal allegiance? Do hardcore Ubuntu users avoid asking Windows-related questions on SO for fear of being seen as Microsoft fans? I'm not trying to challenge your feelings; we all have them and should own them, as you're doing here. I'm just trying to understand it and its implications. – Monica Cellio May 2 '16 at 19:18
  • It was just where you said 'I think national flags are pretty safe from that kind of confusion'. I love my country and I very much love many of the people I know here, but I do not love my government, nor the current lack of employment rights or representation (unless one happens to be rich or curry favour with the power-brokers, which, perhaps sadly, it is not in my nature to do). I would feel a flag relating to a national tag would send out the wrong message in this regard. – Peter David Carter May 2 '16 at 19:27
  • @PeterDavidCarter thanks. I see now. And yes, not everybody who lives somewhere loves that place's current government; believe me, I understand that. So maybe a generic icon for the country tags? – Monica Cellio May 2 '16 at 19:42
  • Yeah, I think I would prefer that. I would just like people to know, as much as is possible, how employment is in particular countries, as a general rule. – Peter David Carter May 2 '16 at 19:46
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    Wouldn't you sooner associate a country flag with the people and culture of that country than with its politics? That said though, it could be a sensitive topic and I also think that a generic "globe" icon for all location tags would be more appropriate and avoid the giant political mess that could ensue. It would also be useful for the europe and asia tags and any other locale tags that might conceivably be created to group areas with a similar cultural mindset. Not saying that those are useful or should be created (that should be an organic process) but it's an added bonus. – Lilienthal May 2 '16 at 20:21
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    @Lilienthal good point about regions that don't have their own flags, and good idea about using a globe. I've updated this answer to remove flags and just suggest a single icon for all the location tags. – Monica Cellio May 2 '16 at 20:29
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    @PeterDavidCarter: I must say, I do not completely understand your doubts. Very similar points are often brought forth with respect to flags representing languages, and there, these points absolutely make sense IMO: A given language can be spoken in several countries, and more so, users are often asked to identify with a language (by configuring their account or an application to use a given language), and thereby indirectly also with the flag. I see why this can be undesirable. But how does it apply to question tags? On sites like Law SE, Travel SE, or Academia SE, questions that really ... – O. R. Mapper May 14 '16 at 17:52
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    ... lend themselves to receiving country tags are those that are strongly coupled to particular legal or otherwise aspects, specifically in the way they occur exactly in the given country, often tightly linked to the country's current legal framework. Isn't this exactly what is denoted by the country flag, rather than any kind of endorsement for the country's legal and political situation as such? – O. R. Mapper May 14 '16 at 17:54
15

I think this looks quite all right:

image description

Only limited number of countries is included. I don't know how to automatically populate list of countries. I used google search to get tag names for commonly used countries here:

// ==UserScript==
// @name        Country tags
// @namespace   util
// @description Adds CSS love to country flags on Workplace.SE
// @include     http://workplace.stackexchange.com/*
// @version     1
// @grant       none
// ==/UserScript==
var country = {
  "italy": "it",
  "netherlands": "nl",
  "egypt": "eg",
  "india": "in",
  "ireland": "ie",
  "canada": "ca",
  "switzerland": "ch",
  "france": "fr",
  "united-states": "us",
  "united-kingdom": "uk",
  "germany": "de"
};
var countryNames = Object.keys(country);

var style = document.createElement('style');
style.type = 'text/css';
style.innerHTML = ".country-tag {"+
"  background-size: 2em auto;  "+
"  background-position: 0.5em center;"+
"  padding-left: 3em;"+
"  background-repeat: no-repeat;"+
"  background-repeat: no-repeat;"+
"}";
document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(style);


$("a.post-tag").each(function() {
  if(countryNames.indexOf(this.innerHTML)!=-1) {
    this.style.backgroundImage = "url('//www.geonames.org/flags/m/"+country[this.innerHTML]+".png')";
    this.className +=" country-tag";
  }
});
  • This looks really great! I know we often distinguish between different states in the US as well. I can't imagine using state flags would work very well though, as many of them are just a seal on a colored background. And it should probably be limited to countries anyway, so that we don't have too many states/territories requiring special tags. – David K May 12 '16 at 15:30
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    @DavidK - For the most part there is a common set of laws and customs that rule over US workplaces. There are minor differences but nothing like the difference between US - Europe - Asia - India – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 25 '16 at 19:54
12

Given the huge legal, social and cultural differences from country to country, I think it's an excellent idea.

A simple question such as "Is it appropriate to ask about a coworker's sick family member" can have Widely different answers based on the culture and country.

In The USA, it can get you in trouble. In India, it's expected, and in other nations it varies between the extremes. Clear, distinct country tags would help greatly to disambiguate questions like this and others

The country is a tag that could change what a relevant answer is entirely, as in the example above. Since no other tag I can think of would effect what a correct or incorrect answer would be, I am of the position that the country tag should stand out much more than it does now.

  • 1
    Keep in mind that those tags already exist in site consensus seems to be that they are useful but should be used with caution. Basically that means: don't tag unless the location is relevant and actually affects possible answers. This suggestion is specifically about making them more visible to further encourage their use and to make it clear that there's a regional factor at play. (Your answer seems to support the suggestion but you can argue that tags are already clear and distinct without additional formatting. – Lilienthal May 2 '16 at 14:30
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    @Lilienthal Sorry, I'm not always as clear as I should be. I'll edit. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica May 2 '16 at 14:38
  • No problem, just wanted to make sure that everyone's on the same page. – Lilienthal May 2 '16 at 20:15
3

In another answer I argued against tag coloring and suggested a (single) icon. But now I have what I think is a better proposal.

We should support a request for a more-general mechanism for distinguishing tags in an important set. I originally opposed using a different color because the gray tags on meta say "required tag" and country tags aren't required (and shouldn't be). However, the MSE post pointed out that the moderator-only red tags (, for example) are also distinguished by color and aren't part of a mandatory set. So I agree that color could work, so long as it's not a color already in use.

But, as I said in my answer there, the styling could be color or a bold outline or bold text or anything else the design team comes up with. One styling change would apply to all tags in a set.

This proposal could benefit other sites, making it more likely to gain traction -- country tags for us (and Travel and maybe Expats), OS tags for Unix & Linux, denomination tags for Christianity, movie tags on Movies & TV, and others.

  • Are you proposing a different color for each country? That could be a lot of colors. – Joe Strazzere May 14 '16 at 10:41
  • @JoeStrazzere yikes, no -- that would look like an explosion in a kaleidoscope factory. I mean a single color that is different from the standard tag color, that is applied to all tags in a designated set (countries for us). – Monica Cellio May 15 '16 at 3:15
  • Ah, I see. Would only the set of countries have a color? Or would there be other sets of tags for The Workplace? – Joe Strazzere May 15 '16 at 11:38
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    @JoeStrazzere nope, one special set of highlighted tags per site, whatever each site thinks is important to call out that way. – Monica Cellio May 15 '16 at 17:15
-1

I would personally very much like to see distinct and prominent country tags on the site, as I think it would help people to see differences between different countries' employment practices and might be useful for anyone interested in the manner in which different geographic locations conduct themselves with regard to employment, probably largely driven by governmental and cultural factors.

I would even go to far as to suggest a search function for different tags and title/body keywords in concert with different country tags, and even an option to perform analytics on them, though this might be more something of interest to people using the Stack Exchange API than general users? Still, just being able to access tables of stats broken down by country definitely might prove interesting, particularly to people thinking of moving to different parts of the world to work...

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    This is pretty much already possible. Country tags exist, and you can search by tag. For example, let's say you want to ask about "Serving notice period", but only as it applies to India, you can use this search. What Lilienthal is asking about it visually making country tags distinct from other tags, so that they stand out more. – David K May 2 '16 at 11:48
  • Are you 100% certain? Because when I read the 'CSS love' bit in massive orange writing I totally thought we were talking about en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSS_(band) . Now you point it out it seems very obvious. I understand that in some places employers can pretty much get away with whatever they want. – Peter David Carter May 2 '16 at 18:51
  • @PeterDavidCarter On the off chance that this isn't a joke that went over my head, the orange writing is a hyperlink to the wiki page for Cascading Style Sheets. So yes this is only about making the tags more visible. Site analytics are available for 25K+ reputation users but I'm not entirely clear on what those offer. – Lilienthal May 2 '16 at 20:14
  • It was supposed to be a joke... :/ Kinda. I dunno. I get confused when I try to explain things to people. Like, it seems obvious or something and then I don't know... like, they don't know things or something but maybe not and then it upsets me :/. – Peter David Carter May 2 '16 at 21:24
-1

Yes, this would be extremely useful. As the question you've linked points out, it would be great if we could even require users to tag a country before they can post a question, as that piece of information is sometimes critical to answer the question.

A while back I asked about this feature in Meta SE, but unfortunately it didn't garner much attention.

Custom recommended tags list for individual SE sites

  • 1
    As discussed on some of the topics I linked, we want to avoid turning country tags into meta tags that are added to every question, even when the location isn't important. I'd like to avoid taking this off-topic so I'd suggest making a separate meta question about your suggestion. – Lilienthal May 2 '16 at 14:33
-1

Country tags have a bit of a history on this site but the general consensus seems to be that they serve a useful purpose. Unfortunately, even when they are added to a question, they often end up ignored because many people don't check the tags before answering or commenting.

I thought that experienced users wouldn't fall for that but I just noticed that I've personally failed to notice a tag on a question I recently answered. I even guessed at the location based on the OP's name but never thought to check the tags.

So my suggestion is that these tags should receive some CSS love to make them visually distinct from the other tags.

I agree that country tags are very important for properly answering some questions.

But I don't believe making such tags visually distinct is going to matter - particularly for experienced users.

Once our eyes become accustomed to the new CSS, we'll ignore it to the same extent that we ignore it now. The familiar becomes ignored, even if the familiar is distinct from other tags.

If you want country tags to have special meaning, don't mingle them in with other tags. Instead, put them on a line of their own, perhaps with a distinct label. Even then, only folks who care will find them and take them into account in their answer.

-2

I am of the opinion that tags are meta-information. They exist to categorize the question; they are not part of the question. The question should stand alone, with just title and body. As such, anything pertinent should be mentioned in the question body itself.

Tags should be ignorable. Decorating them further, and drawing more attention to them, is potentially counterproductive.

-6

No need to add bells and whistles, just read the tags like I do. You got no business answering a question without actually reading it, and the tags are part of it.

  • 2
    So should we ban people who answer a question with out reading and fulling understanding the context? – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 9 '16 at 14:46
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    How'd did you get that out of my answer? I'm not even suggesting we should ban you for typing drivel for no reason... hehe... you can type whatever you want, but you shouldn't do so if you haven't actually read the question. Or in this case, the answer. – Kilisi May 9 '16 at 22:56

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