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For those that don't know, a brief history lesson... There are two distinct variants* of Visual Basic:

  1. The old COM-based platform, which was last released under the name VB 6 back in 1998.
  2. The newer .NET-based platform, originally called VB.NET, but now just called "VB" by Microsoft since VB 6 has been dead for so long.

Unfortunately, this naming/identity crisis means that the tag conveys little to no useful information, and our usual weapons (synonyms) are useless here. It's not clear whether someone using this tag actually means or . And if it can't be deduced from the sample code or the other tags, we have to ask them in the comments and then retag the question. Every time. That workflow is broken.

Worse, users like Joel Coehoorn periodically go through the questions with the tag and try to rectify this ambiguity. That's all fine and good, but it "bumps" a large number of old questions when there is not actually any [meaningful] new activity. Since I frequently look in this list for questions to answer and the VB-related tags are included in my favorites, this is a continual source of noise for me to wade through.

Thus, I propose that the tag shouldn't even be available for use on new questions. Having it available just encourages people to use it when they really shouldn't, and that just creates extra work for other dedicated users. Yes, we could put this information in the tag wiki summary for the tag, instructing people to use one of the other tags, but we all know no one actually reads that stuff.

The only counter-argument I can envision is "an ambiguous tag is better than no tag", but that problem solves itself. The question submission system won't let you post a question without any tags, and if you really can't figure out which one to use, well then we probably don't want your questions anyway.

* Nitpicker's Corner: There might actually be more than two variants of Visual Basic when you consider VBScript and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), but these are syntactically and otherwise quite similar to VB 6, so I don't think they merit their own categories here.

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1 Answer 1

I think there's no getting away from the fact that in its many flavours the language is "VB" and that the tag is always going to be the first thing that a lot of less savvy users are going have fall out of their fingers onto the keyboard.

Despite there being a tag suggestion widget these users are going to be confused if the tag is banned. In this case I suspect they'll do one of two things.

The first is just giving up because we added a road hump and they don't know what to choose. The second is incorrect tagging. I'll bet you there is a horde of folks out there who can't differentiate between , , , , , and so on. If the tag is banned they'll just pick whatever comes up first because its the path of least resistance. I think that's a far worse scenario than generically tagging as which is at least in the right ball park.

There are another group of users who will worry that if they can't tag with the generic tag their question may miss out on eyes because they are not aware that the "interesting tag" filter can support wildcards.

All these vb* flavours are after all part of the giant family which have the same core language structure and grammar (even VB.NET still looks, feels and executes just like "core" VB e.g. And and Or evaluations in If statements are still eager evaluations).

Just a thought.

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I find some of your arguments persuasive, but I'm hesitant to just accept that all of the VB languages are one happy family and we should learn to embrace the common tag. It seems that much of this logic could be extended to any overly generic tag. Forcing people to be specific is already a problem that the tag system has to deal with. I'm not sure that forcing people to be specific about their VB is that much bigger an obstacle. –  Cody Gray Feb 21 '12 at 18:54
    
@CodyGray I personally think that generic tags are good. –  Cruncher Dec 2 '13 at 14:05

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