The thing with these tags is, you can always (or almost always) use a specific product/technology/language tag which would render the company-name tag completely redundant (see Appendix C for sloppy non-proof).

For example, what relevant information would tag add to questions already tagged with ? What would tag add to questions already tagged with ?

Another way of looking at this: how much useful information do you lose if you don't tag a question with a company name?

Note: I'm not talking about brand/company/organizations like , , , because those names also refer to websites/web services with which you can interact via API or from which you can extract data.

Appendix C: The "about" test

The relationship between a tag and a question can be expressed as such

This question is about [tag]

In case of ,

This question is about [microsoft]

Fair enough. But in reality people are using these company-name tags like this

This question is about something developed by or related to [microsoft]

But if that's the case, you might as well just go with

This question is about [something developed by or related to microsoft]

where can be , , ... you get the idea.

  • 2
    "I'm not talking about brand/company/organizations like wikipedia, amazon, flickr, facebook because those names also refer to websites/web services with which you can interact via API or from which you can extract data." This seems like quite the fine line. If such companies have more than one such API, product, or service, the same arguments apply to those tags. Aug 16, 2013 at 15:00
  • I agree that in the future when there are more products, people might misuse those tags (Wikipedia and co.). The thing is, Microsoft and Apple is not even an API, product, or service. The two (or maybe company names in general) are not valid tags to begin with. Aug 16, 2013 at 15:16
  • This is not specific to Stack Overflow, other sites have company tags as well e.g. graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/adobe Aug 6, 2014 at 19:33

3 Answers 3


Things like "Microsoft" and "Apple" are users tagging things incorrectly. The company name is meant to be a part of the tag, like "Microsoft Power Point" would be , but users type it with a space as "microsoft powerpoint" and it suddenly becomes two tags and . The brand is part of the product name. Though we oftentimes just crop off the brand name because it makes the tag longer and it's not really useful.

The and tags are not useful at all. Microsoft and Apple both have a zillion different products under them, which makes these tags extremely ambiguous at best.

These tags should both be burned to death.

  • 5
    Yeah, there also tends to be a high number of off-topic questions in either of those tags on SO. I've edited many of the [apple] questions to remove that over the years, but there are still 72 pages of them left to go. Jul 29, 2013 at 18:50
  • 2
    I've been retagging [microsoft] questions throughout the last couple weeks, and it's finally under 3000 questions, but it's hard to keep it under that. Aug 16, 2013 at 14:34
  • 1
    they can't help but be used incorrectly because there is no correct, narrow definition. Aug 22, 2013 at 2:20
  • 1
    So these tags should be banned: Blacklist the [microsoft] and [apple] tags Oct 2, 2013 at 12:09
  • @LittleBobbyTables: is it ok to edit these questions just to remove the Microsoft tag if that's all that is needed? May 9, 2015 at 19:10

Specific to your question "are they useful" the answer must be no.

Tags are to help focus, to categorize. It's not that Microsoft and Apple tags are too broad. If they were, then we'd have to drop "Android", "C#" "Java" as well because they are too encompassing.

Your post and all answers to date show that such tags are too complex to be rubrics. Android is about Android - and probably about code, or maybe tangentially about (problems with) the OS. Certainly more focused than "Microsoft" which as you point out could imply many different categories.

If I could, I'd remove all of these Catch-All tags, and go with ones similar to what you describe... In fact, using "Microsoft" or "Apple" as a prefix to other tags, e.g. 'Excel' is just silly. Know anyone on Stack Overflow who doesn't know where Excel came from ?


The only reason I could imagine these tags having any validity is that in a few cases, like , there are consistencies between various apple products in how one develops for them (perhaps also true for Microsoft, ie, directX style applying to both PC and XBox development?).

For example, it's possible someone who programs in iOS might be able to help with some programming issues, even though technically iOS is now programmed in a theoretically distinct API (). I'm not sure you'd want every iOS item tagged both and , would you?

Not sure this is sufficient to justify the tags' existence, but it's worth considering.

  • 11
    If something is indeed shared between two platforms like [ios] and [osx] (or [cocoa]), there are almost always better ways of expressing this. You can tag with a shared framework that both have, a common language (if it's a language-related issue), etc. I've also tagged questions with both [ios] and [cocoa] if I thought it was clearly relevant to both camps. [apple] is way too ambiguous to be useful, and I don't know many people who watch that tag. Jul 29, 2013 at 18:58
  • 4
    It's nice that [apple]'s tag wiki is pretty much entirely a treatise on why the tag shouldn't exist and what to use instead.
    – Wooble
    Jul 29, 2013 at 19:03

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