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Many forums have the ability to tag a post (often with multiple tags). This site does too, I see. What is the best way to prepopulate these tags? I know here users can add new ones after they get enough karma. That isn't so with some software. I have a very broad topic for my community, but obviously don't know the specifics of what will be discussed yet.

As a follow up, how can tags be maintained? I think it is a maintenance nightmare to keep these tags updated and relevant. I see tags becoming outdated or vague as the site grows and more niche discussions are more common. How does that get managed?

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The first option that comes to mind, if you have a voting system for posts, why not simply make a topic about tags. People could respond with suggested tags and vote up or comment on the ones they think appropriate.

Alternately, you could have a sub-forum dedicated to tags where people could post a topic per tag and people could add comments or posts that would benefit from the tag as replies to the topics.

In either case, management is fairly simple, you just look at posts with high activity (either vote count or reply count) and take action on them. Sure, it's still manual, but it is at least somewhat organized.

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This is a variant on AJ Henderson's answer. It is based on the assumption that you have a voting system on the posts themselves (not on the answers, so a simple 'like' counter is enough). I answer the 'How can tags be maintained?' part of your question, not the 'How to pre-populate?' part.

Simply use the voting system for your posts as an indicator for relevant tags. A simple lineair calculation would be: if the post has 4 upvotes, give all its associated tags 4 votes. Order the tags by vote count and delete the 'low value' tags.
For this you would have to set up the tag counting system. On a Wordpress forum, I would not be surprised if a plugin for that is already available. Otherwise, it requires some programming, or maybe just running some queries on the underlying database.
The tag removal is still manual maintenance work (well, you could argue to do it automatically, but determine sensible thresholds), but you would only have to do that a few times a year.

This assumes that your forum allows posts without tags.

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