A question I was working on which sparked this meta-question is mostly about things which must be avoided in a specific file of programming, but for which it is not readily obviousl that it's necessary to avoid them.

These are normally termed "gotchas" or "pitfalls", two words which are used in plenty of questions on StackOverflow. Here's a couple I spotted which have lots of votes:

Yet neither term exists as a tag on StackOverflow.

Could it be that either or both of them have existed over the years but have been nuked?

Could it be that they would be viewed as "meta tags"? For, as we all know, "meta tags are bad".

OK it is said that each tag should be capable of being the only tag on the question as a test whether it's a good tag. I think that could be too strong though. While it wouldn't be much point to watch such a tag on its own, it would certainly make a lot of sense to watch it in combination with your other tags of interest, which is what the "interesting" questions tab on the site's front page is for.

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    In my opinion that's a meta-tag indeed. What's more, it almost reads as if your question is going to be "not constructive". I can't tell without seeing the actual question of course, but it might be something to watch out for. – Bart Aug 8 '12 at 14:18
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    Please note that a lot of those questions in your Google link are closed. Shouldn't that say something about those tags? – BalusC Aug 8 '12 at 14:22
  • @Bart: I'll link the question when I complete it. I'm having trouble finding any tags for it besides just the overly broad javascript though even though it's restricted to a very specific domain. In the meantime have a poke through some of the questions already using these terms (not as tags) that I linked to via a Google query in my question. – hippietrail Aug 8 '12 at 14:22
  • As @Chichiray says, most of those are closed. Should you find some that are still opened, please still be careful. They might simply have been overlooked. It's no guarantee that your question won't be closed. – Bart Aug 8 '12 at 14:25
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    99.9% of questions with those tags should be blog posts rather than a question on SO. – user7116 Aug 8 '12 at 14:32
  • The question that made me want to ask this question is now live on SO: Looking for a resource detailing gotchas specific to “browser apps” that might be run from a file URL – hippietrail Aug 8 '12 at 14:51

Bad idea.

I think those tags lend themselves too readily to subjective or general questions. I only looked at the first page of the google search results you linked to, but most of those questions are closed as not constructive.

Many of the questions on the second page of google results aren't closed, but questions like these probably should be:

  1. What is the worst gotcha in WPF?
  2. What are pitfalls for agile development methodologies?

Although they're not closed, they're either highly subjective or far too vague for the site.

EDIT: Based on the discussion in the comments, I want to add something else. Stack Overflow is not the place for asking "where can I find resources about X?" As it has been stated before, "Stack Overflow is not a research assistant." Please don't use it in this way.

At the risk of being blunt, definitely do not ask questions asking for book recommendations on a subject, regardless of how specific that subject is (I just might go crazy if you do). Stack Overflow is not the place for recommendation questions, even if they deal with common pitfalls or gotchas. This is no different than any other type of recommendation questions.

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  • And they might have simply been missed until now (some fall through the cracks) or were asked when they were not yet deemed "not constructive" when this Q&A was still new. – Bart Aug 8 '12 at 14:26
  • I'm going to change the link to point to only non-closed questions but I see the subjectivity. In the question I'm working on I'll be asking for a resource on the subject rather than for each person's pet gotchas though, so I will avoid at least that one potential bad aspect. – hippietrail Aug 8 '12 at 14:26
  • @Bart Absolutely. – Ricardo Altamirano Aug 8 '12 at 14:27
  • @hippietrail Asking a specific question about a resource is fine, but I'm sceptical of any question similar to "what is the pitfall in X", even if X is highly specific. In my eyes, that still bears all the hallmarks of subjectivity. As for asking about a resource on a subject, Stack Overflow is not considered a "research assistant" (that's how it is normally phrased to me). – Ricardo Altamirano Aug 8 '12 at 14:28
  • I was going to compare "pitfalls" with "best practices" but it seems the latter is a banned tag these days even if it's a common enough term in questions. Anyway if that's a bad tag then I'm satisfied that gotchas/pitfalls is also a bad tag. – hippietrail Aug 8 '12 at 15:33
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    @RicardoAltamirano: By the way you answered "No it wouldn't be a good or bad idea." d-; – hippietrail Aug 8 '12 at 15:34
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    @hippietrail Corrected. Pardon my emphatic ambiguity. – Ricardo Altamirano Aug 8 '12 at 15:59

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