For example, I was just reading a question on "What's the best WTF you've seen?" and it was tagged as "assembler c c++ c#". Similarly you often see questions about a particular algorithm where the answer should be language agnostic (like this one about ordinal numbers), but it's tagged with the language which the OP cares about.

This also means that when people are scanning through the questions they might pass over a particular question because it's tagged with something which they don't know about.

If the answers which have surfaced are language agnostic, should the question be retagged so to reflect this?

8 Answers 8


If the tags don't suit the question - change them. Add, delete, rename - whatever is needed.

If the answer is more agnostic, just add to the tags. I wouldn't delete so much then.


Using your examples. For the WTF thread, I would remove language tags.

For your ordinal numbers thread, I would leave a .net related tag, since the question was specific to .net and I might add tags for a specific language if there is a useful example shown in another language, besides the one mentioned in the question.

Perhaps if a basic concept is being demonstrated, an generic-algorithm tag of some sort could be applied in addition to the language tag.

The way I see it, if I have selected a language tag, I want to find language specific topics. In otherwords I want to see code for that language or it to be a question about that language.

@nickf (Reply to comment) I don't think it would cause redundancy, since I am advocating for tagging based on the content of the questions and answers. Psuedocode code be the generic-algorithm tag, I mentioned. As I laid it out, you could easily have an generic how do I do this, with examples in mutliple languages and a tag for each language or a how do I do this in a specific language question, tagged with the specific language tag and even possibly other language tags if good examples are shown in the thread. Tags should reflect the content regardless of the question and answers. It is an site ettiquette issue, not a tag issue if redundant language specific questions are frowned on.

  • Wouldn't that lead to a tons of repeated questions? eg: "How can I do XYZ in .NET?" "How can I do XYZ in PHP?". If the answer to XYZ can be expressed in pseudo-code, it seems wasteful ... or something...
    – nickf
    Sep 19, 2008 at 7:13

Tags should closely relate to the content of the question, not attributes of the question (with a few minor exceptions).


  • "subjective" is a waste of time.
  • "polls" is fine, people may search for these discussional points.
  • "setting-xml-attributes" would be bad, but "xml" and/or "xmlserialization" would be good.

Keep it relevant, they are there to organize not identify.


In spite of the fact that many people dislike when someone intrudes to their questions, I think that community members should actively fight with inappropriate tags. Otherwise site will be clogged with tons of tags pointing to random stuffs.

  • Hear hear! I have been waging war on "subjective" for about a week now! :D
    – Rob Cooper
    Sep 19, 2008 at 7:21

I think yes. The question itself must be completely language agnostic. If it says "What's the best Ruby WTF you've seen?" then of course it should be tagged with the "Ruby" tag. If it's vague and doesn't specify any language, remove any language related tag. I think it's fair.

  • Ruby doesn't have any WTFs! Aug 18, 2011 at 3:47

@Rob Cooper is damn right! Tags are not funny little things. It's a way to organize information into different categories.

Now, lets talk about "subjective" stuffs:

Instead of tagging questions as "subjective" and attract evil moderators, mark it "discussion". Discussions are not welcome according to site's FAQ and J&J podcasts/blog posts. But it seems to be impossible to fight with this phenomena effectively. Mark your intentions clearly. If you want to discuss, make it clear.

There is a very important feature's coming - tag filters! Finally we will be able to sort things out. Instead of immediately killing open-ended subjective question just mark it "discussion" and voilà people will be able to filter off-topic stuff out!

How can we maintain signal-to-noise ratio if people will tag things with everything that comes to they mind?

Recently I encountered tag "3". What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Dear SO users please be responsible. Think twice before tagging anything.

  • with your amount of reputation, why didn't you just delete those "3" tags?
    – nickf
    Sep 19, 2008 at 8:21
  • Because I wanted to leave it as an example of bad tag :)
    – aku
    Sep 19, 2008 at 9:04

I'm for useless tags deletions, and negative voted questions should lead to question dismissal after being human-analysed by you guys. ... I know that because my first activity over here was a subjective non-programming VBA question, that got voted down, and I was politely asked to read the FAQ (the not frequently read questions&answers).


The tag input has an autocomplete feature. It helps to pay attention to the hints it provides.

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