There are currently four tags about the same basic thing:

Having multiple slightly different tags about the same thing undermines the functionality of the tagging system.

IMHO they should be merged together into one and the other three should be made synonyms of it. A moderator can do this using the moderator tools.


Just found this two tags which belong to this group as well:

  • 1
    Any suggestions on the master tag? I'm thinking Sanitation. Apr 18, 2011 at 16:49
  • @PJ: Yes, I agree on 'sanitizing' as master tag. Apr 18, 2011 at 16:51
  • I've merged sanitizing and sanitization into sanitation. Sanitizer might be worthy of it's own tag, since one is a process, and one is a product. Are sanitizing and sterilizing really the same thing? Apr 18, 2011 at 17:03
  • 2
    Sanitizing and sterilizing are not the same thing. Sanitizing is for beer, sterilizing is for hospitals.
    – nbushnell
    May 4, 2011 at 19:54
  • @nbushnell: My sanitizer is labeled as "steriliser" (UK product). :-) Besides, why do we need both tags around if sterilizing is only for hospitals? (stupid explanation btw) May 4, 2011 at 20:05
  • I am just saying you can't merge them because they are different processes. High temperatures are are need to 100% kill all micro-organisms. Autoclaves are used in hospitals for this. Forgive me, but I don't think I would have surgery with a scalpel washed with your sanitizer but I would have beer with you. :-) It may be a subtle difference but I submit that there is one.
    – nbushnell
    May 4, 2011 at 21:41
  • Sanitizing and Sterilizing are different. Sanitizing reduces micro-organisms to an acceptably low level. Sterilization is to remove them all. When I can, I sterilize my bottles using dry heat in the oven. If I don't have time, I fall back to soaking them in sanitizer for several minutes.
    – yhw42
    Jun 27, 2011 at 16:22
  • 1
    Which is more logical to go with? I would guess that most people just sanitize their equipment most of the time, but of course sterilizing is the ideal. Sanitizing seems better to me - I don't think most people, if asked, would say they wanted equipment they could actually literally perform surgery on/with, just equipment that is sufficiently clean for the brewing process.
    – kathryn
    Jun 28, 2011 at 0:18
  • +1 I don't agree with merging sterilization etc. because this is just a language difference, but points for bringing up the issue :)
    – Poshpaws
    Jun 30, 2011 at 15:17
  • @Poshpaws: If it's just a language difference then they should be merged. Having multiple tags for the same thing defeats the purpose of tagging! Jun 30, 2011 at 15:22
  • @Martin, maybe I don't understand how the tagging system works here then. Surely if we are all forced to use "sterilise", then people who prefer "sterilize" and feel strongly enough about it will just create a new tag...?
    – Poshpaws
    Jun 30, 2011 at 15:26
  • @Poshpaws: One can be made a synonym of the other, so people can type both but only one is used. Tags are mainly used for searches, e.g. if you use [sterilize] in the search window you get all questions tagged with it. So at the moment you would need to search for [sterilize] [sterilise] [sanitation] [sanitizer] [sterilisation] [sterilization] to get all related questions. Jun 30, 2011 at 15:34
  • @Martin but they're not synonymous! The difference can be very important, even though people use them incorrectly as synonyms sometimes.
    – kathryn
    Jun 30, 2011 at 18:27
  • @kathryn: That's not the point. The point is that one tag is enough for all of them. The ones which only differ in spelling beside, there is no reason why there should be two tags sanitation and sanitizer. They fall into the same group and that is what a tag is about. Also, don't tell me that there are so many different question where the difference between sanitation and sterilization must be expressed in the tags! Jun 30, 2011 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


First off, between the four options: sanitization sanitizer sanitation sanitizing/

I prefer Sanitization.

Secondly, I believe that most of the time when people talk about Sterilization they actually mean sanitization. So I say a conditional merge into sanitization.

For Sterilization/Sterilisation there are four questions, one is mine and I think should keep the sterilization tag. (Other's should be the judge of it though, no hard feelings if it doesn't)

The second is a question about adding adjuncts to the fermenter, the third speaks of contamination in a batch and the fourth about "sterilizing" the hydrometer. In all these cases I believe the asker really means sanitization.

Thirdly, I support using the "z" version of the word sterilization (rather than sterilisation), this is merely because it's the way I spell them.

  • 1
    Agreed on all points.
    – kathryn
    Jun 28, 2011 at 3:03
  • 1
    If by "conditional merge" you mean a manual retagging and using the [sterilization] tag for questions actually about sterilization, I agree.
    – yhw42
    Jun 28, 2011 at 14:39
  • 1
    Saying "because that's the way I spell them" isn't much of an argument! I agree that using a single tag makes more sense than using four, but "s" versus "z" isn't going to be resolved like this. Any Brits/Aussies/Canadians/Kiwis etc. are just going to create there own tags again.
    – Poshpaws
    Jun 29, 2011 at 18:01
  • @Poshpaws, +1 for "isn't much of an argument", it isn't. Just a preference, and I am a Canuck who just can't spell sterilisation correctly ;-) Jun 30, 2011 at 19:33
  • I take it back, "because it's the way I spell them" is actually the best reason in the world. +1 And I'm just a Pom who can't spell "their" correctly :-)
    – Poshpaws
    Jun 30, 2011 at 19:47

Was there a community consensus on what to do here? Which of these tags should be merged?

  • to be honest, the community seems to be divided in general when it comes to tags. There's another, fairly contentious, debate about whether to tag things as "beer" or "wine" or not, and that one seems to speak particularly to what the site is about: is this primarily a beer brewing site with the rare wine question, or are we about all types of homebrewing equally?
    – kathryn
    Jun 26, 2011 at 21:02

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