It’s considered proper and elegant to create tar archives by specifying a directory that contains the files to be archived, not just a bunch of files that are in the current directory. This means that when the files are untarred they show up in a single directory instead of in the current directory.
For example, create an archive of the /etc directory contents with the following command:
tar -cf etc.tar /etc
When you unarchive the tar file, by default it creates an etc directory in the current directory, which contains the entirety of the /etc directory you archived.
Contrast this with the nightmare that happens when you navigate to the /etc directory and create the archive from there with this command:
tar -cf /root/badetc.tar ...