This Stack Overflow post How to describe the closest enclosing element? has been tagged with just . A tag has to be self-sufficient and it should tell something about the question. Looking at the above post, seems useless. Should it be removed? I think it should be burninated.

However, tags related to other languages seems to improve content categorization and help in better searching of related posts, for example:

Should we keep them or remove them? I think they should be left as-is.


has been burninated.

  • 6
    I'd say so. Seems rather pointless as a tag for SO.
    – Bart
    May 10, 2013 at 11:33
  • 1
    The closest enclosing element... isn't that just "the parent element"? May 10, 2013 at 11:41
  • He also reposted it on EL&U thanks to a "helpful" suggestion in a comment on the SO question. english.stackexchange.com/questions/113674/… May 10, 2013 at 11:42
  • 1
    I think it is fair enough to leave them alone - can be used as resource when dealing with characters in a specific language.
    – nhahtdh
    May 10, 2013 at 13:04
  • 4
    Bring the burninator ! May 10, 2013 at 13:49
  • I could perhaps see these as being useful with respect to localization issues in code surrounding that language, but if that's not how they're currently being used I'm not really opposed to them going away. Looking through some of these tags there are a handful of cases where the language in the tag could be related to the code in some way, but for most it doesn't seem related.
    – Servy
    May 10, 2013 at 15:01

5 Answers 5


Language tags are certainly useful.

  • Some questions are language specific. People asked for examples: trivial examples are changing the plurality of a word or anything relating to natural language processing.
    In fact, the language may be required for these questions.
  • Languages have their own Unicode blocks. They can have tags.
  • Languages have different encodings. As much as we love utf 8, sometimes you're dealing with an old file, or a legacy system.
  • Internationalization and localization are just features.
    I don't need to get i18n and L10n right to write a Turkish site if that's the only language I'm supporting. I just want my language to work.
    Here's a per-language tool: gibberish-to-Hebrew translator - (Hebrew site)
  • , , , etc can replace the language in many cases, but sometimes they assume you already know the cause of your problem.
    For example: Suppose my Japanese site "isn't working" on a Kindle Touch. Did I mess the encoding? Am I using a wrong font? Does the reader even have any Japanese fonts? If not, would a web font work? Is there a third-party solution to get it to work?
    When asking a question, I probably don't know any of these.
  • Some "language features" are unique, or at least appear unique to their owners.
    In Hebrew we have nikud and optional vowels, for example. If I had problems with these, I wouldn't bother searching for a general solution.
    Unicode collation algorithm do make these problems appear simple, but at the end require per-language implementation.

I agree that a more general tag is better, but it is a mistake to ban or remove these tags, including English.



It also seems like a good indicator of a lot of off topic or not constructive stuff. Make sure to flag/vote to close before removing the tag.

  • 8
    And as always, clean up the whole post, not just the tag. ;)
    – Bart
    May 10, 2013 at 11:39
  • @Bart Yes, yes, yada yada.
    – casperOne
    May 10, 2013 at 12:04
  • For ones like 'hindi' and 'tamil' which are about difficulties of non-latin script, is there a better tag we can replace them with? Would i18n be appropriate?
    – jam
    May 10, 2013 at 12:37
  • @J-X320 there is non-latin tag. Not sure if this can be used or not. May 10, 2013 at 12:42
  • @J-X320 Do you have some examples of questions that show the difficulties?
    – casperOne
    May 10, 2013 at 13:30
  • Having dug around a bit, it looks like many could be retagged with either fonts, right-to-left, or utf-8.
    – jam
    May 10, 2013 at 13:44
  • @J-X320 Then I'd recommend that, if there are others, feel free to point them out and we can make recommendations.
    – casperOne
    May 10, 2013 at 13:47
  • Should we make some of these synonyms of utf-8?
    – Amelia
    May 10, 2013 at 14:50
  • 3
    @Hiroto: I'd be opposed to that; utf-8 isn't the only encoding that can handle those languages, and making them synonyms would be confusing. What if the person tagging is using utf-16 to display Farsi and tags with both?
    – Wooble
    May 10, 2013 at 15:19
  • @Wooble good point, but to stop these coming back we'd need to either blacklist or synonymize them in some way.
    – Amelia
    May 10, 2013 at 15:20

The tag wiki is also completely useless. It tells us about the history of the English language. Interesting stuff, perhaps, but not what I come to SO to learn. It should tell us when the tag is appropriate to use on Stack Overflow: what the point of the tag is.

English is a West Germanic language spoken originally in England, and is now the most widely used language in the world. It is spoken as a first language by a majority of the inhabitants of several nations, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.

It is the third most commonly spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. But it is more commonly used as a second language than any other, which is why its total number of speakers -- native plus non-native -- exceeds those of any other language.

ISO Codes

  • ISO 639-1: en
  • ISO 639-2: eng
  • ISO 639-3: eng



In most cases i'd say the spoken language tags misused, but there are some cases where it would be appropriate.

For example for cases surrounding localization issues, it would be prudent to list the actual language you're having issues with.

For example if I had a regex to match a given pattern, which works with English input but doesn't with Hindi input, then for the sake of being easier to find later by someone else with the same problem - the spoken language tags become relevant.

My vote is for emphasizing that the spoken language tags should only really be used for localization issues where the language of text actually affects how the code behaves.

Edit: Better example may be when using things like String.ToLower() in C# which uses the current culture, and different cultures have different rules on which characters change when doing upper <-> lower case conversion. In which case the language and/or culture in question would be relevant to the question (even if the answer is the same for different cultures)

  • 1
    Can you give an example where the actual language is relevant? I assume the same regex that fails for Hindi is going to fail for the same reason for any other non-ASCII script.
    – Wooble
    May 10, 2013 at 15:21
  • The best example off the top of my head is the use of .ToLower() in C# which by default uses the current culture. Since different languages/character sets use different rules of what characters change from upper <-> lower, comparing user input to a string supplied by the developer may behave differently in different languages if you try to .toLower() them both first.
    – PhonicUK
    May 10, 2013 at 15:28
  • 1
    @PhonicUK: That's not a question where the specific language is actually relevant though, just tagging it i18n or such would be enough. Feb 3, 2016 at 15:59

I say burninate them all, as they don't really serve any purpose on SO.

Burninate ALL the things.

We need a burnination signal in here.

Failing burnination, there's few enough that we could clean them up manually.

  • 6
    -1: Localization and I18N issues can make languages relevant. But only when they're specifically about that language for whatever reason. May 10, 2013 at 15:32
  • @NicolBolas but then the tags localization and i18n are valid tags, not the languages. I disagree with you.
    – Amelia
    May 10, 2013 at 15:38

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