A user has claimed that:

not- tags are inappropriate on [StackOverflow].

Can anyone provide a reference to the policy/decision to which he refers? Or is he just stating an opinion?

For example there is a tag I created, and he edited my question to remove it based on the above. Under what circumstances do I have the right to rollback his edit if I disagree with the change?

Background: Almost any question asked in the Algorithm tag can seem like a homework question and many times randomly these questions receive a "Is this homework?" comment, almost always from someone that has never asked a question and never received a answer in the Algorithm tag, which is extremely annoying. I guess I will simply continue to ignore this question.

  • Which question?
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 9:43
  • 14
    Are you talking about this: stackoverflow.com/posts/11492811/revisions ? Adding a not-homework tag? (If so, editing out was absolutely the right thing to do and you should not re-create it. That's a worthless tag, could be applied to millions of questions without adding any value.)
    – Mat
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 9:46
  • That doesn't answer my question at all. Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 9:50
  • And further a not-homework tag would be useful for questions that look like homework but are not homework, to avoid the two comments "Is this homework?" from some script kiddie with primary tags bash and php, and then another comment "No this isn't homework". It reduces noise. Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 9:52
  • 6
    WRT this doesn't answer your question: it indeed is a comment. Re: usefulness of "not-homework" tag: I disagree. It's about as useful as "not-working" or "question". It would be used by the wrong people for the wrong reason (i.e. seeing it would, in my opinion, in 95% of cases, indicate a homework question).
    – Mat
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 9:56
  • Whatever 95% wrong people that use it for the wrong reason can just as easily answer the question "Is this homework?" with the answer "No this isn't homework". It raises the signal/noise ratio. Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 9:59
  • 1
    +1 Mat! I agree. The OP should just say in the original description that it is not for homework, then they won't need to add a silly tag in.
    – Kevdog777
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 10:09

3 Answers 3


Most not- tags would be meta-tags as classified by Death of Meta Tags:

If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag.

You can't tag a question with only a negative, you'd always need something more to define what "category"/"area" your question belongs to. ( is a meta-tag with a long history of debate attached to it.)

See: How do I correctly tag my questions? – don't create meta-tags. Tags are there to classify, to help searching, to get tag-experts to look at your question. I can't see anyone following the or tags.

If you are after an answer that doesn't use LibraryX or some specific feature from your language or framework, state that in your question (possibly with a reason why if that would have been the most logical thing to do/use). But negative tags aren't a good idea at all IMO.


How can I write to the console in C#?

I would have added more tags, but there are only five allowed. :(

No, they're definitely not useful. Tags should describe what your question is about, not what it is not about, and especially not what your intentions are (or not). That the tag exists is a pure edge-case which should be reconsidered sometime.

  • 3
    not-any-other-tag-except-the-ones-included-except-the-ones-starting-with-not Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 10:05
  • this doesn't answer my question. I asked for a reference to policy/discussion on this matter. Not for an opinion about whether it should be policy. Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 10:06
  • @user1131467 - I don't think there is an explicit policy document other than the usual one on meta tags.
    – Flexo
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 10:10
  • @user1131467: Doesn't get more official then this. Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 10:36

Tags exist and are used to identify a question, allowing interested or expert users on the given subject to answer and provide some assistance.

If you prefix a tag like , it doesn't mean anything. Having the tag present or not is the same thing.


How can I import a large CSV file?

This will immediately, as already mentioned by @Mat direct the user's thought to "This is homework"!

Others will just re-tag the question.

From this community wiki: Why do we tag questions?

Tags connect experts with questions they will be able to answer.

No one gets connected with .


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