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As I was looking through some questions on So, I noticed that some questions have certain tags like and , but no actual tag denoting what language the question is asking about. A few examples of such a question are:

The above questions aren't necessarily poorly phrased or even misleading questions, but they just don't mention what language the code being referred to is written with. Though in the above questions the syntax is not actually that complicated, it still might mislead someone who specializes in (say) Java and was unable to answer a question with code in C# due to differences in syntax.

Though not all questions necessarily pertain to a certain language, I think the majority of SO users would benefit from a requirement to specify a syntax tag when a question includes a block of code.

Though most users with reputation over 15 know to specify the right amount of information in their questions, this would be aimed at the new users who might just add a single tag like .

This would also allow members of the community who just browse the feed to quickly answer questions that include the tag of the language they know. I think it would optimize the efficiency with which questions are answered, which is the whole point of So.

These are just my thoughts. What are yours?

EDIT: This would be enforceable for only users with reputation below a certain threshold, somewhere around 20 rep. It might fall under the category of "new user restrictions."

It would force the newer users who might ask a question hastily and may never use their account again to at least specify what syntax they are working with.

It has been brought up in some of the answers that some questions don't pertain to any particular language/syntax, but again this rule would be implemented for the users who want to quickly get an answer and are usually asking less complex and syntax-based questions.

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2 Answers

There are many programming languages out there. It would be hard to keep track of all to know that a question contains a language tag or not.

And not all questions need a language tag. If you asked about deployment or need help on a regular expression.

If a question misses a language tag you can ask the OP for it. (I do it all the time in the SQL area where the DB engine is mostly needed to answer the question.) If OP does not respond then cast a close vote or flag for closure.

If you know the language you can edit it in. often you can see it on the error messages or the code.

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I agree, which is why I think that only questions with a block of code would require the tag. I guess questions citing code about deployment or a regular expression problem might not utilize any particular language, but they might often utilize something like a bash, which could be noted by a moderator to suffice for syntax. –  Wold Nov 1 '13 at 7:42
    
Regular expressions are an example where a language/library tag is very helpful: there are significant differences between regex dialects. –  Richard Nov 1 '13 at 8:53
    
@Richard, most of the time regular expressions are part of a framework not the language, so how would forcing a "syntax tag" help. However if we could have subtags that had to be used when a "super tag" was used, it would be very useful for regex questions. –  Ian Ringrose Nov 1 '13 at 11:31
    
@Wold, I often use a code block when I explain an algorithm in English but wish to be able to indent loops etc. –  Ian Ringrose Nov 1 '13 at 11:33
    
@IanRingrose I was not taking "syntax tag" literally; more a case of "platform tag" (which makes more sense). Eg. lots of .NET questions are not language specific (but tend to get a language tag rather than .net). For regex having .net or pcre would work without a specific language tag but still specifying the dialect (which, IMHO, all regex questions need: there is too much variation in syntax). However that also clearly shows why this (as specific in the Q) is a bad idea: to make it work you would need too many special cases. –  Richard Nov 1 '13 at 12:42
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Just to a few counter example:

I often ask questions on the .net framework where the answer does not need any code, or if there is a bit of code in the answer, it can just as well be C# or VB.Net.

Likewise if am I interested in an algorithm to solve a problem that does not depend on low level coding, e.g. “How do I trim the search space when using backtracking…” why does it need a “syntax tag”?

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I agree that there are plenty of counter examples to my question, but maybe a solution would be to force a syntax tag for users under 20 rep or some lowish number. This would really be designed so that more experienced users could decide which questions they can answer and help the newer users get that answer more quickly. –  Wold Nov 2 '13 at 23:01
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@Wold, I can see that working, but maybe there should be a list of tags that can't not used on their own. –  Ian Ringrose Nov 3 '13 at 19:15
    
An afterthought occurred to me, is this concept sound enough to submit as a feature-request? Does it seem like a valid enough point or are there too many exceptions? –  Wold Nov 4 '13 at 8:34
    
@Wold ultimately it is your call if you want to add the feature-request tag. Personally, I don't think it is a workable idea. There are way too many languages so who would be responsible for maintaining this list of required tags. Additionally, it adds another barrier for new users, and SE traditionally has avoided such barriers. And lastly, not every new user uses a code block when they submit their question, so your workaround won't work all the time and will just add a barrier for users trying to edit the question. Not to mention the cases that everyone else has mentioned. –  psubsee2003 Nov 4 '13 at 11:04
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