In my retagging madness today, I came across a few questions tagged similar to the following:

[visual-studio], [visual-studio-2005]

My question is: should questions be tagged like this with both tags, or is it better to only apply the more descriptive/precise tag? How would this affect searching?

Another issue. With a tag such as [visual-studio], there's 2 additional levels of tags: [visual-studio-2005] and [visual-studio-2005-expres] (trailing 's' is not a typo -- tag length limit is in play), so if I have to tag a question with VS2005 Express and I should tag with all 3, I've burned up 3 of the 5 allowed tags just for the environment I'm using, which doesn't seem right. In fairness, these instances are probably rare, but certainly 2 out 5 tags can be significant sometimes, too.

  • 1
    This was brought up in meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2781/… and declined in a comment by jeff (though he never tagged it status-declined). Commented Mar 4, 2010 at 21:30
  • @Lance: Fair enough, but that isn't what I'm asking here.
    – Jon Seigel
    Commented Mar 4, 2010 at 21:53
  • Well, if you're just looking for an opinion on whether to use one or both tags, I'll vote for both (and I'll upvote the answer that says that). Commented Mar 4, 2010 at 22:58
  • This is something I've asked myself a number of times re internet-explorer vs internet-explorer-8 etc. Most IE questions are for a specific version so the sub-tag is usually appropriate, but it's very inconsistent in actual use. (not to mention the fact that a lot of people don't bother to mention the version they're asking about until prompted in comments)
    – Spudley
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 9:05

4 Answers 4


This happens to me all the time with ASP.NET-MVC questions. If I am posting a question, and I think the version is important, I use both tags; the ASP.NET-MVC tag, and a version-specific tag.

I do this because, when I am perusing unanswered ASP.NET-MVC questions, I only click the ASP.NET-MVC tag; I don't bother looking through the version-specific tags. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I like to see all of the ASP.NET-MVC questions under a single tag, and if the version is important to the question, it's also nice to see the version-specific tag in there also.

  • @Robert: Good point. See my edit.
    – Jon Seigel
    Commented Mar 4, 2010 at 21:51
  • @Jon, in your second example, I would use Visual-Studio and Visual-Studio-2005-expres, if I knew that it being the Express version was significant. In other words, I use the most general tag, and then the most specific tag relevant to my question. I would never use three Visual-Studio tags, in part because I want to leave the remaining 3 tags open for other things like the language (e.g. C#) and the programming platform (e.g. Winforms). I seldom use all five tags.
    – user102937
    Commented Mar 4, 2010 at 22:01
  • I agree on version specific double tags. What do you guys think about about library that has only one API language vs that language? Say Django and Python, Rails and Ruby? Should those be double tagged? If yes I am about to get 2000 rep easily =) Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 11:45

Well, semantically the best thing would be to have some sort of inclusion, so that tag searches for visual-studio would catch the more specific tag.

I'm not holding my breath for that, though. Without something like that, having two tags is probably for the best.


For Delphi it is immensely helpful and very much encouraged to have both tags. When browsing or searching Delphi is the tag people will be looking for, but when answering or asking specific questions knowing whether it is Delphi 2006 or Delphi XE2 is often invaluable since available features and functionality will be different, much in the same way as tagging a .NET framework version is important. For Delphi the IDE version correlates directly with the version of the runtime and visual component libraries.

In the case of Visual-Studio, however, I would probably restrict the sub-tag to questions that are actually about something specific to the IDE itself. Pure programming questions suffice to be tagged with language and framework number (ie : c# .NET 3.5) - in these cases the IDE is not really relevant.

In all cases, the question should be whether or not the tag is directly related to the question and whether it conveys information that is useful.


As it currently stands, I agree that askers should add both tags and subtags if that doesn't blow the 5 tag limit.

However, at least one of the following must be accepted:

  • all re tagging edits must be rejected, either manually or computationally.

  • all super or sub tagging edits must be rejected

  • users who make super or subtag edits must be prepared to give up any rep they get by doing so, since they will be bitten by the vote fraud script.

  • a minor edit mode that gives no rep should be created, and all retag edits should be minor edits.

or else it would be too easy to get the 2000 edit rep by adding super tags.

For example, there are more visual-studio-2010 questions than there are visual-studio ones, and I got 200 in one hour by adding visual-studio tags to visual-studio-2010 questions. Even a bot could do it.

It seems that the vote fraud script does not yet cover that case, but I have a gut feeling it will soon do so.

How reviewers, the vote fraud script or the askers can decide if something is a valid super or sub tag or not consistently, I don't know. For example:

  • is software versioning subtagging? (visual-studio vs visual-studio-2010)
  • is library of a language subtagging? ( python vs django)
  • is product of an enterprise subtagging? (microsoft vs windows)
  • etc., etc.

It is clear that there will always be many hard-to-decide on edge cases.

For the vote fraud script to work, there would have to be a computationally maintained human voted tag hierarchy, but this has been proposed and generally rejected and even explicitly vetoed by Jeff in his comment. Therefore, if the vote fraud script starts covering this case, be prepared to give up any rep you get by retagging, even non super / sub retags, since the vote fraud script will get things wrong sometimes.

For editors to reject consistently, consensus could be achieved via discussions on meta. However if this is done systematically, it would be one step away from a computationally maintained tag hierarchy. The following cases have already been discussed:

  • the version case has a related discussion here that considers only when to add version specific tags, but not if both tags should be added.

  • the language vs library case has a discussion on double tagging here

If there was a no rep minor edit mode, the vote fraud script would be unnecessary for this case. This has already been suggested but not implemented, possibly because it is hard to implement. But on this specific case, I think it is easy to implement since the check can be done automatically. In any case editors would still have the hard task of deciding what is valid super or sub tagging.

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    There is no “rollback script”. Version-specific tags tend to be heavily overused; they should only be used if a question is specific to that version and doesn't apply to other versions. Replacing visual-studio-2010 by visual-studio is often a good thing and should be approved. Super/sub tag edits or any other retagging must not be rejected as a matter of course; apply the usual rules (is it correct? does it make a significant improvement to the post?). Tags are important. Retags are often not minor. There's nothing wrong in gaining rep by cleaning up tags. Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 10:14
  • @Gilles I agree that better retaging is good, but wouldn't it be too easy then to reach the 2000 edit rep? By rollback script I meant vote fraud script, the term I used is not very clear. This particular case has been suggested for fraud detection here after my serial re-tagging (he used the term rollback script there) Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 10:23
  • @Gilles It is true that if editors took more care on accepting edits, then it would be harder to get the easy rep. The problem is that they currently don't since I got 200 rep in one hour without thinking. How can we educate them? As it stands today, retagging is rep too easy. If nothing changes I could just reach the 2000 edit rep in 19 more days I think =) Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 10:39
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    The vote fraud script reverses votes on posts (i.e. questions and answers); it has nothing to do with suggested edits. And it being "too easy" to reach the 2000 edit rep is not really a problem. It is also easy to reach this number by contributing questions and/or answers. But that's precisely the point: if you're positively contributing to the site, you should earn reputation. Correct retagging is considered an improvement. And there is an upper threshold on the amount of rep you can get from suggesting edits, so abuse is not really a problem either. Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 10:44

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