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What is the purpose of keeping such an overwhelming list of tags for HTTP status codes?

And, yes, there is even a more generic one which I believe it can really be useful.

Although, there is even a stray one which I don't understand the intention of it.

  • × 9

    Each Status-Code is described in the W3C HTTP 1.1 specifications, including a description of which method(s) it can follow and any metainformation required in the response.

How is this usage of seen by the community? Shall any actions be taken to clean-up this?

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http-status should be an synonym of http-status-code IMO. And those other ones, I don't like it, I think they should get removed –  Wouter J Mar 23 '13 at 16:47
I can't believe there's not a 418 tag! –  Flexo Mar 23 '13 at 16:51
@Flexo, I think that's out of the scope of this question :p –  Alexander Mar 23 '13 at 16:55
There are some legitimate uses of these tags (IMO), but they seem to be overly misused as meta tags. "I see the number 404 so I'm going to tag it as such, even though it's probably completely irrelevant to my question." –  animuson Mar 23 '13 at 17:22
404 and 500 are nigh-useless. They're basically honeypots for people with poor tagging and research skills. Some of the more rare tags (like 412) have some pretty helpful questions though. –  Charles Mar 23 '13 at 18:33

2 Answers 2

Though I agree that the number of tags is high; I think having "error" tags is perfectly fine. It adds something to the question and aids people who are searching for their specific error. Don't forget that the primary purpose of Stack Overflow is to get answers to questions. Part of that is people being able to find whether their questions already have an answer.

I'd rather these were in the tags than the title. At least then the title can further distinguish (hopefully) each question and guide people who are searching more effectively.

The HTTP status codes aren't the only ones. There are plenty of other "error" tags and any attempt to get rid of them should be thought through thoroughly1.

As examples you have:

1. That combination of words pleases me mightily. I'm quite simple really.

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I was just about to reply your comment regarding the presence of the real cause of the problem in the title but I see you already mention that here. Although, IMHO the presence of such "error" tags mentioned is utterly awful. For instance, the tag of the main language is added to the SO's <title/>, not them –  Alexander Mar 23 '13 at 17:03
"That combination of words" could possibly be known alternatively as a tongue twister. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 23 '13 at 17:20
As I mentioned in @Caleb's answer, I don't think that grouping all the abovementioned "error" tags in the same boat will do any justice. If something, most of those tags are setting a bad example. (Notice that at some point I believe the ora* tags may come handy. I can not say the same for the others. But, this is irrelevant for the topic in question) –  Alexander Mar 23 '13 at 21:40
It's not irrelevant @Alexander. It's highly relevant. Response and error codes have been used throughout SO to categorise, which is the purpose of those tags. Your comment, unlike your question, indicates that you'd like to remove them. You haven't really said why though? –  ben is uǝq backwards Mar 23 '13 at 21:43
@benisuǝqbackwards, at this point I am trying to gather knowledge to decide the best way of action. I have no predisposition for a determined action to be performed though. At this moment, I am interested to see why people insist so much to apply the mindset of ora* tags to the http-status-code-* tags and other "error" tags :). Unlike for HTTP errors, you can actually find complete references built around oracle errors –  Alexander Mar 23 '13 at 21:59

What is the purpose of keeping such an overwhelming list of tags for HTTP status codes?

I'd hardly call a list of 25 tags "overwhelming". Different HTTP status codes mean different things. If you're searching for help with a 404 response, or a 500 or a 301 or whatever, being able to use a tag to narrow your search will help a lot.

I'm not sure that I'd support having tags for every response from every protocol out there, but considering that HTTP is the dominant protocol in the Internet I think it's reasonable to allow a more detailed set of tags than we might for, say, NNTP.

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If you're searching for help with a 500 error, you'll be searching for a long, long time. 500 can be used for virtually anything and does not narrow down the problem at all. Keywords are a far better way to search. Might as well just tag your question with error... –  animuson Mar 23 '13 at 17:24
@animuson HTTP status codes aren't just errors, though -- they're responses withs specific meanings and part of the HTTP protocol. Each one means something different, and if you're looking for information about one code you're probably not so interested in other codes. We have tags for broad topics, like c and c++, tags for keywords like while and switch, tags for general errors like syntax-error and specific ones like mysql-error-1242, tags for classes like uiview, so why not tags for HTTP status codes? –  Caleb Mar 23 '13 at 20:08
Because a status code is often just a side-affect of a real error. Like you said, they're not errors. Many pages will send a 404 or 500 just because the page encountered an error, but that status code doesn't really have anything to do with it. You're categorizing a ton of unrelated things together. I'm certainly not saying all of them are useless, but some of them certainly are. –  animuson Mar 23 '13 at 20:20
@animuson But they're not unrelated. They're related by the fact that they produce the same response. Now, that might not be sufficient to help me find what I need, but it helps narrow the search. If I search for http-status-code-404 I get about 1700 questions; if I add .htaccess and wordpress to give some more context, that number comes down to 28, which is pretty manageable. You seem to feel that http-status-code-404 is too broad a category, but I think the OP's objection is that these tags are too specific. –  Caleb Mar 23 '13 at 20:39
@Caleb, I'm sorry but I see no reason to put all the "error" tags in the same boat. No one can assure us anything about the future of all those tags you are mentioning. I would consider all the mysql-error-* rather useless. This can be single-handely managed in a single question if you ask me –  Alexander Mar 23 '13 at 20:45
@Caleb, to defend my position here let me present you the php-errors reference question: Reference - What does this error mean in PHP? and its discussion. It's true that this can't be escalated to all tags and it may not look pretty but it's keeping things in order –  Alexander Mar 23 '13 at 20:55
@Alexander I'm not sure what your point is, but in general I think you mean that the HTTP status tags are too specific, right? My point is that that might be true for many protocols, but HTTP such a popular protocol and so many people have specific questions about it that a finer granularity for tags related to HTTP is warranted. Yes, some of those tags only have a few questions right now and could perhaps be put under one tag, but those will gain more questions with time, and the more popular tags are already valuable. –  Caleb Mar 23 '13 at 21:20
I hardly see any of the http-status-code-* as a popular tag. I think you believe they are rather new and the fact is that they aren't –  Alexander Mar 23 '13 at 21:28
Just to clarify. Yes, I believe they are too specific, rarely used and they don't actually say anything about the underlying error involved –  Alexander Mar 23 '13 at 21:33

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