Welcome to tag hell. This has been a problem as long as tags have been around.
It is helpful to think about the tagging system to be set up before tagging to avoid exactly this situation.
Some reading for you (and others): The Difference Between Good and Bad Tags • Zettelkasten Method
What you are doing when you make topic-based tags is actually a form of qualitative coding called descriptive coding. This is a method used in social science research to identify themes and whatnot in texts.
It turns out descriptive coding is the weakest method of labeling content: How To Do Descriptive Coding — Delve
There are far better coding methods but they require significant effort: Essential Guide to Coding Qualitative Data | Delve — Delve
The solution depends on your use case. If your use case is collecting information with minimal writing of your own then you are applying a taxonomy to other people’s ideas and I don’t have a sound strategy for that. I’ve been burned by that myself which is why I no longer just collect notes. cf: Collector’s Fallacy: The Collector’s Fallacy • Zettelkasten Method
If your use case is largely to build your own notes that happen to incorporate the thoughts of others, but you want to write notes on your own ideas as a result, then my opinion is that it is far better to build outlines of links for topics of interest (rather than topic-based tags) and to use tags in the following two general situations:
- to identify the object or “type” of note (e.g.
#literature-note or whatever)
- to identify our own ideas and themes that emerge naturally from our writings (e.g. David Kadavy has a tag
#IcebergPrinciple to denote writings about the large invisible efforts people put in before “suddenly” becoming successful)
The second one has the benefit that it shapes our thinking when we read/watch other source material for ingestion into our notes, because we are now actively looking for those materials.
Hope this helps.