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Should questions on Stack Overflow that are about the .NET Framework which have no relevance to a particular language include a language tag? (Should the language tag be removed?)

This question about the stacktrace is tagged c# but really could apply to VB.NET or any other .NET language. Or does it just not matter?

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probably you got the wrong example but I think the question is good. Here are other examples, there are plenty of them: stackoverflow.com/questions/3142382/… stackoverflow.com/questions/3142126/… stackoverflow.com/questions/3141644/… –  Drake Jun 29 '10 at 15:54
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4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I think that this depends on the question itself. If a question is tagged with C#, VB.NET or F# then I assume that the questioner is fluent with that language and is looking for a 'coded solution' in that language.

In the case of your example question, the C# tag is irrelevant and should be removed, since the question applies to MSBuild and the .NET Framework itself.

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I agree in principle, but C# and .NET are effectively synonymous, just like "ain't" is a word despite the protestations of my first grade teacher. –  Randolpho Jun 29 '10 at 18:37
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@Randolpho: Yes and No. People might use it as a synonym...but that is in my eyes bad practice. It's like calling an angle-grinder Flex, or any PC Windows. It might be daily use, but it's still not quiet right or accurate. –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 29 '10 at 21:37
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As I wrote, I agree, in principle. I, too, feel there's a very distinct... distinction between the languages of .NET and the .NET framework itself. But to the vast majority of folks out there, the two are synonymous -- just like Java and the JVM. And, just like "ain't", you're going to have a very hard time suppressing it. It's better to just accept it and move on. :) –  Randolpho Jun 30 '10 at 2:11
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The tag isn't just for categorization of the question, it's also to help others find the question through the RSS feed and the like.

Tagging it C# ensures that a large cross-section of people that use the .NET Framework daily will see your question. They may not be following the .NET tag (partially because it applies to every C# and every VB.NET question out there), but they will follow the C# tag, which means more eyeballs for your problems, and more chances of an answer.

It's not accurate to do that, but it's useful. In time, I would expect it to be edited out, but in that golden time before you have an answer, it's nice to get as many eyeballs on it as possible.

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I'm going to start tagging PostgreSQL questions as [C#] to get more eyeballs! –  perbert Jun 29 '10 at 18:56
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@perbert - that won't help you, because C# people are unlikely to know much about PostGreSql. You need to tag for your audience. –  Joel Coehoorn Jun 29 '10 at 19:04
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@Joel: you seem to mistake me for someone who talks seriously. –  perbert Jun 29 '10 at 20:04
    
+1. My main language at work is VB (for historical reasons), but I've noticed a much higher response rate when translating the code examples in my questions to C#, just for the sake of being able to give them the C# tag. I don't really like it, because the sample language is almost always irrelevant to the (.NET Framework) question, but it just works so well... –  Heinzi Nov 16 '11 at 16:11
    
@Heinzi, I have found that a quesions with code in C# is more lickly to have been writen by someone with at least a bit of understanding then a question with code in VB.NET, hence I tend to advoid quesions with code in VB.NET –  Ian Ringrose Dec 10 '13 at 9:21
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Is it not that many (I know I do) puts VB.NET or C# because we want or prefer the answer in that language?

If the tag is C#, I answer with examples in C#, if the tag is VB.Net I answer with examples in VB.Net. If there is only a .Net tag and no more clues I let the context or my preferred language be the choise of language

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Exactly. But his example does not ask for anything coded, but for the behavior of MSBuild and the Framework itself. –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 29 '10 at 10:16
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@Bobby the question askers don't always know if code will be required. So the fact that it didn't require code doesn't matter, because if it did, the OP wants C# and therefore tagged it as such. –  devinb Jun 29 '10 at 16:08
    
@devinb: But in this case it's obviously not necessary...shouldn't questions 'evolve' over time, including changing of tags if they become obsolete? –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 29 '10 at 18:05
    
@Bobby, If the question changes, the tags should change. However, that question is vague and could be code related. We don't know that he is talking about visual studio debugging, he could just as easily be talking about reflection, which would require source code. And a language tag. –  devinb Jun 30 '10 at 8:59
    
@devinb: Yes. But he was not looking for a code related solution. He asked a general question about the build-process and the answer is a general answer about the framework (and is accepted). Which means that the question and the answer seems to have nothing to do with C# at all, rendering the tag...arrr...what's the word? Inaccurate? Misplaced? –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 30 '10 at 9:50
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I think that it would be too difficult force or explain people to use .net tag instead of C# and VB.NET tags for question not language specific.

In my opinion if you see a question that could be considered ".NET language irrelevant" and that contains only the tag VB.NET or C#, just edit it and add the tag .net, or .net-n.n if the version of framework is relevant.

EDIT: some numbers

now 29/06/10 17:50 (+1 timezone) on SO:

  • .net [45'242]
  • c# [90'372]
  • vb.net [9'293]

it seems that c# is used double times of .net and I don't think that we have 45K C# questions on the language self.

Maybe it could be an idea to add tag .net to vb.net and c# questions where is not still there directly with a server script? What do you think?

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Some of the questions with [c#] but not [.net] have 5 tags already. Global tag addition will invoke chaos as a result. Either we end up with questions with 6 tags, or we end up clearing those questions of perhaps useful tags. Later case is even worse because global rewrites change history, so there wouldn't even be a trace of the original tags in some places. –  Grace Note Jun 29 '10 at 16:01
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