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I've seen some tags that are referencing specific functions within a programming language. However, these functions are only defined in the one programming language (AFAIK), and I'm wondering if these sorts of tags are appropriate for SO.

Most of these tags don't have a wiki and have few questions attached to them. Almost all of them are appropriately tagged with the language that defines the function.

Examples include (I hang around in ):

There are more, in fact there are at least 205 tags whose name matches a PHP function name on posts that are also tagged PHP. I'm sure such tags exist for other programming languages as well.

So, are these tags relevant and appropriate for SO, or are they just adding clutter?

Edit: There is also a lot of ambiguity here, for example:

Maybe these tags are best suited as synonyms. However, I think more needs to be done than just "allowing all tags whose names match functions", even if it's just establishing a best practice.

Edit: There's even more obscurity here, as the following tags exist:

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Clutter. I'm for burnination. – Daniel Fischer Jun 8 '12 at 23:57
The SimpleXML ones are particularly egregious since there's also a (more popular) [simplexml]. – John Flatness Jun 9 '12 at 4:15
@JohnFlatness - Not to mention the ambiguity in their formatting. [simplexmlelement] is a tag, yet [simplexmlloadfile] is not, while [simplexml-load-file] is. – nickb Jun 12 '12 at 12:35
@DanielFischer I'll take the thatched-roof cottages! – Richard J. Ross III Jun 12 '12 at 14:12

I can see both sides of the argument here. On the one hand, they can more specifically describe the problem. On the other, they could potentially be misleading, for instance when the problem isn't with the usage of the function. And is anyone going to subscribe to an tag? Probably not. However, the single most important function of a tag is to help future users with the same problem find the question. If I want to figure out the mechanics of, say, , I'll go find the tag and search questions so tagged.

So my answer is yes, tag with specific function names if and only if it will assist future searchers in finding the answer they seek.

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I agree. There are some "subtags" on SO with literally thousands of questions (c++ vector, for example). Killing that tag would make searching for those questions more difficult. Give the tags some TLC where warranted, but let them stay. – Michael Kristofik Jun 9 '12 at 2:35
I agree that more heavily used and relevant tags should be kept, especially if they benefit future users. However, what is the criteria for keeping these tags? Or better yet, how can we qualify that a tag meets the condition of "assisting future searchers in finding the answers they seek"? – nickb Jun 11 '12 at 16:22
I don't think most users visiting SO for a question about preg-replace go to tags and look for it, though--I think they get here via a search. – Dave Newton Jun 12 '12 at 12:56
@DaveNewton But tagging a question affects how that question is searched. SO search, and even scrapers for Google searches will notice the tags and associate a higher weight to the question when those terms are searched. – Servy Jun 12 '12 at 14:35
@Servy Well, I think only the first tag is used in the title, unless they have a custom scraper that specifically looks for the tag DOM elements, I'm not sure that simply allowing function-specific tags is intrinsically helpful on its own. Internal searches might be assisted, but I still don't think that's how most people get here initially--could be wrong. Either way, I don't think tag creep to include arbitrarily-sized portions of a language's API is a great idea. – Dave Newton Jun 12 '12 at 14:40
@DaveNewton I'm not nearly as familiar with the search mechanisms as others, but I believe that tags have at least some bearing. It's at least a point worth raising that tags may help people find content even if they don't know what a tag is or how to use one. As to whether these specific tags will still be useful, is still a discussion worth having. – Servy Jun 12 '12 at 14:43

Some of them are too specific. For example, if there is already , doesn't add anything to the question, as it is probable that the users who are able to answer questions about the SimpleXML extension are probably able to answer questions about simplexml_load_file(); the vice versa is also true.

Other tags seem too generic. Would a question using get a different answer, if that tag would not be used? Would it get a faster answer? Using include_once() is probably done from many PHP programmers that there isn't the need to use the tag, except (but I would not use it even in that case) when the question is specifically about include_once(), and not a generic question about code that is using include_once(). If that is the case, then the question should have a tag for each of the functions used from the code.

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