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Questions have (up to 5) tags to organise/classify them in Stack Overflow; I understand this.

But there is also a markup for putting a link to tags, defined in the main site, in the content itself. While this is useful in Meta because tags are actually one of the matters discussed here, how would this be used in Stack Overflow? I have difficulty believing that the community would value, much less enjoy, something that reads like this:

How do program in a ? I keep getting a when I use […].

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4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

There generally isn't a reason to use tags in questions and answers on any main Q&A site. It may happen in comments but it doesn't format there, anyway.

Tag syntax was originally designed for usage on Meta sites - we have separate syntax for normal and meta tags because both of them will be discussed within the scope of that Meta sites.

We still allow tag syntax on main sites primarily because of tag wikis. You can use tag syntax to link a variety of tags in a tag wiki description, from similar and related tags to tags that often get confused for each other.

Tag wikis use the same post formatting as questions and answers (they are post type 3 to the others being 1 and 2), so rather than split up how formatting is done for 1/X formatting types on 2/3 of post types on 1/2 of sites (since the meta sites still need them), we just consistently apply the formatting on all post types.

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I haven't seen someone actually use this on SO. Most likely most SO-only users do not even know about that markup.

I also don't see any usecase on SO. Any tag which is worth "tagifying" should be in the tags.

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I can see it adding value for little known technologies or languages - a way to direct confused readers to the tag wiki for a term they might not recognise without breaking the flow of the question/answer.

For example:

I'm programming in and need to know how to instantiate a unicorn...

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Perhaps. This would only be useful where the question is general enough to be answered by users who didn't get there by following or favoriting skeetcode and lacked that tag, if the question is already tagged skeetcode then it shouldn't be necessary to state this in the question body. In any case, I'm confident that php, class, and runtime-error do not need to be tag links in the example. –  Kevin Vermeer Dec 6 '11 at 15:22

The only place where I would think it could be be useful is in comments, where I could comment asking to the OP if he thinks a tag could be helpful for getting the answer to his question.

I don't think it is helpful to be able to write a link to the tag page inside a post. Even in the case I reported, I think there are few cases where I would write such comments; if I think a tag should be added (or removed), I do it. I know there are users who cannot re-tag questions asked by others; I know there are cases where the OP could comment saying, "I would like to add , but I don't have the privilege of adding it," but I don't see in which way using is more helpful than writing "drupal-coffee-machine."

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