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How do I use tags to find topics I'm interested in?

You can use tags in a number of different ways to find specific questions that interest you.

Browse by tag

Every question asked on our site is tagged with the primary topics that the question is about. To find questions about a particular topic on the site, you can visit the Tags page and either browse through popular tags or search for a specific one.

Clicking a tag – from anywhere on the site (whether it's from the tag page or from the tags below a question) – will show you a list of all questions with that tag. You can then sort that list by newest or most recently active, or filter it to only unanswered questions, among other options.

Each tag has a tag wiki excerpt that should provide brief usage guidance on when the tag should be used on this site; this excerpt is displayed at the top of the page for the tag itself, below the tag name on the Tags page, and in a popover while hovering over the tag anywhere on the site. Each tag also has a full tag wiki that may introduce the corresponding topic in more detail.

If you'd like to be notified of new activity within a certain tag, you can subscribe via RSS by hovering over the tag, then clicking the orange RSS feed icon in the top-right of the popover that appears:

Screenshot of the popover that appears when hovering over a tag. The RSS feed icon is visible in the top-right.

Search using tags

You can also search by tags, which may be especially useful if you're looking for questions about multiple topics. Our site search recognizes tags enclosed in brackets (like this: [tag]), as well as the search operator OR. The default operator is AND – i.e., searching for [tag1] [tag2] returns only posts that have both tags. To search for questions marked with either tag, insert an OR into your search (e.g., [tag1] or [tag2]).

Note that you can also use asterisks (*) as wildcards within tags (e.g., [tag*]) when searching by tag; such searches are automatically converted to an OR search for any matching tags. For instance, if you search for [tag*], you'll get all results that have a tag starting with tag (after your search term is converted into something that looks like this: [tags] or [tag-wiki] or [tag-watching], and so on).

If your search term is just a single tag (such as a search for just [tag]), it will take you to the page for the tag rather than conducting a regular search. In addition, if your search term is identical to the name of one of the 40 most-used tags on the site, you will also be taken to the page for that tag.

For more tips on using search, check out the Help Center page "How do I search?". See also these FAQs on Meta Stack Exchange:

Add watched and ignored tags

Another way to filter out questions you're not interested in and focus on the ones you do care about is to add watched and ignored tags.

Watched tags (formerly known as "favorite tags") are meant to call out questions that are important or interesting to you. Any question tagged with one of your watched tags will be highlighted on the home page and other question lists on the site.

Ignored tags downplay or hide questions about topics you are not interested in. By default, questions with these tags appear grayed-out on the home page and other question lists on the site, but are still visible. (Alternatively, you can choose to completely hide these questions instead, as explained below.)

You can add tags as watched or ignored in a few different ways:

  1. The easiest way to do so is by hovering over a tag anywhere on the site, then clicking "Watch tag" or "Ignore tag" respectively. (You can also unwatch or unignore tags by clicking the corresponding button again.)

    Screenshot of the popover that appears when hovering over a tag. The tag is currently watched, so the "Watch tag" button has become slightly darker in color, the eye icon now has a diagonal line crossing it out, and the text has changed to "Unwatch tag".

  2. Alternately, you can watch or ignore tags by going to the home page of the site and finding the corresponding "Watched Tags" and "Ignored Tags" sections of the sidebar on the right side:

    Screenshot of the "Watched Tags" and "Ignored Tags" sections of the right sidebar on the home page, without any watched or ignored tags.

    Once you have added some watched or ignored tags, they will be listed here, and an "Edit" button will appear in the top-right of the corresponding box.

    From here, you can also completely hide questions with your ignored tags. To do so, click "Edit" next to the "Ignored Tags" heading, and then select the option "Hide questions in your ignored tags". (You can change this back at any time by following the same process and selecting "Gray out questions in your ignored tags".)

    Screenshot of the "Ignored Tags" section of the right sidebar on the home page. The option "Hide questions in your ignored tags" is selected.

  3. Finally, you can also manage your watched and ignored tags by going to the "Tag watching and ignoring" page under the "Settings" tab of your user profile:

    Screenshot of the "Tag watching and ignoring" page, without any watched or ignored tags.

You can also use asterisks as wildcards when adding watched or ignored tags using either of the latter two methods above (i.e., from the sidebar of the home page, or from your settings). For instance, if you want to watch or ignore all tags containing the term test, you can simply type *test* into the text area when prompted to specify the tag you want to watch/ignore.

For more information about watched and ignored tags, see this FAQ on Meta Stack Exchange: What do "watched tags" and "ignored tags" do?

Filter question lists by tag(s)

You can use custom filters to show you a tailored list of questions that meet certain criteria – including, of course, the ability to filter by tag. You can also save these custom filters so that you can access them later.

Screenshot of the interface to create a custom filter. The option to filter to "The following tags:" is selected, with the "tags" tag entered into the text box.

When filtering by tags, you can choose to filter the list to only questions with the tag(s) you specify, or to questions with any of your watched tags.

If you choose to filter by specified tags, you can use asterisks as wildcards when specifying tags to filter by (just as you can when searching by tag). Also, if you include multiple tags in a single filter, you can add the OR operator between tags to return questions with any of the specified tags (otherwise, it will only show questions that have all of the specified tags by default).

For more information on how to use custom filters, see this post on Meta Stack Exchange.

If you have other questions about tags that haven't been covered here, see the questions linked in the "Tagging" section of Meta Stack Exchange's FAQ for Stack Exchange sites.