Hello all,

I don't use meta much but find stackoverflow very useful. However I found today that 2 of my questions had been retagged from what is basically UK English to US English.

I appreciate that the site was developed in the US and the owners are US residents etc but is this the current practice on what I thought were international stackoverflow sites?

Should I expect any UK references in my future questions to be translated for me?

The retag that I am most concerned over was financial year (UK) to fiscal year (US). I could understand if a new tag was added but it wasn't it was changed.

Like I said I don't use meta much so please can someone tell me if this is to be expected?


Hi, I agree with the minimum number of tags point, but financial to fiscal IS UK/US. The term is Financial Year in the UK and the answer indludes this link http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/govtalk/schemasstandards/e-gif/datastandards/financial/uk_government_financial_year.aspx , which is the UK Governments definition. This was not a case of reducing the number of tags. I understand it is a wiki and that the content can be edited by all, and that I could edit it back but I didn't want to go down a wiki edit-war path - I though stackoverflow was above that.

If it was just one edit I wouldn't have bothered asking this question. But the editor had also changed another of my questions in the same manner but with a much weaker argument from me to keep it :) which makes me think they are going through questions retagging them.

This is why I was asking the question here.

I'm just disappointed and wanted reassuring that this isn't normal procedure.

End of Edit


  • can you provide specific examples, that would be helpful. Commented May 6, 2010 at 9:28
  • 3
    very closely related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/23869/…
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented May 6, 2010 at 9:41
  • The financial year to fiscal year is the example I was most concerned with, if you mean the question number it was 2138522. Commented May 6, 2010 at 9:43
  • Just seen Jeff's answer on meta.stackexchange.com/questions/23869/… - I am now reassured and happy. I did try the search honest! Commented May 6, 2010 at 10:00
  • 1
    Ha! Victory is at hand! Soon we will no longer have to read about "lorry tyre colours" on Wikipedia! The world will be ours!
    – beska
    Commented May 6, 2010 at 17:29

6 Answers 6


In reality, a tag (be it [financial-year] or [fiscal-year]) with 5 posts is probably not helping much anyway. I'd be tempted to bunch them all in with [accounting] and let the title worry about such nuance.

A related issue is "correcting" the language in the title/body. In the case of the question in hand, the UK term seems entirely correct. In general, I have to concede (and I'm UK) that the US mis-spellings have become the standard. Much like the accidental referer/referrer. We're stuck with color etc, and too many "z"s to be helpful, but such is life ;-p

  • 2
    Yup - I am a Brit in the US and I've succumbed to US spelling in my e-mail. :( I sometimes feel ashamed. That said, even in UK English, z's instead of s's in words like "authorize" is perfectly fine - we just favour one over the other.
    – Jeff Yates
    Commented May 6, 2010 at 13:19
  • 2
    – Earlz
    Commented May 6, 2010 at 14:07
  • 4
    Just because the US yells louder than everyone else doesn't make them right. ;b
    – Dhaust
    Commented May 6, 2010 at 23:48

We want the minimum number of tags that can describe the problem. So for example if the question was about "optimisation", and you tagged it as such, but there is already an existing tag "optimization" then it should be retagged. This has nothing to do with UK/US English, it has to do with reducing the number of tags, of which there are far, far too many.

  • Hi Neil I understand this, I have updated my question, cheers Commented May 6, 2010 at 9:51
  • While I accept the benefits of minimal tags, how hard would it be to create/find a map of UK/US synonyms and general spelling differences (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…) which could be used to allow users to type/think/search in their native tounge (or spelling). Note - I'm only referring to English variants, not other languages.
    – Dhaust
    Commented May 6, 2010 at 23:53

This was discussed in this question.

The agreement was that for [tagging] the spelling is American English. For titles, there is a benefit to consistency, which would mean American English (the most commonly used). For bodies of questions is is unacceptable to change someone's spelling to support your culture of choice.

In response to your edit, I think the best option is the one that has ended up on your question. It is tagged as both. So anyone searching either [Fiscal-year] or [Financial-year] will find it. In this case of nomenclature, it is a bit different than simply changing spelling because you are actively targeting different audiences with your tags. In your case, your original tags should have been kept, and the new [financial-tag] added in.

  • Hi seen that question now, disagree with what you say the agreement was though Commented May 6, 2010 at 10:06

Is there a working difference in the British concept of financial year vis-a-vis the American fiscal year?

  • If so then different tags are appropriate.
  • If not, well tags should be standard and for good or for ill American is the international English of this era, if you'll forgive the Irishism.

The basic premise of tags is to categorize/classify questions. That means no matter how a concept is articulated (there are variations in spelling by locale or history, or even in a completely different language), a question should still be classified with other questions that share the same concept.

The problem right now is that for each concept, everyone wants to use their own localized variation of how to describe that concept, but we only have the ability to use a single tag name to describe a single concept.

It has been decided that when it comes to system-level language, American English should be used consistently throughout. That means all meanings being equal, tags should follow that convention as well. (FYI: I'm Canadian and use British variations when writing.)

As I mentioned in my comment, the proposed tag synonyms system would solve this problem completely, by grouping together all the spelling variations into one "master" tag name, at which point it doesn't really matter what gets displayed on a tag, as long as the proper concept names are grouped together.

But until that is complete, in order to properly categorize site content, questions need to be grouped by concept, regardless of how the concept is articulated.

The reason why it's not appropriate to apply multiple tags describing the same concept is because there are many examples where far more tags could be applied than there are allowed tags on a question (5). [color] and its variations (colour, colors, colours) comes to mind -- how would a question be tagged with only the single remaining tag? It's usually impossible.

Hopefully you can see how we desperately, desperately need the tag synonym system, or we'll keep running into issues like this and having to rehash the same discussions over and over again.


Stoopid duplicate question by me - sorry for wasting your time.

What should the standard spelling be - British or US?

I'll try to vote myself down to see what happens :)

  • 3
    Actually, your question is a good one, because it isn't about retagging spelling which is what the original question was about. You question is about adding or removing tags, which is about modifying actual content. It's a bigger deal than just preference.
    – devinb
    Commented May 6, 2010 at 10:06
  • Fair point - think Jeff did answer it in the other question though - also I can't vote my own question down which is a shame :) Commented May 6, 2010 at 10:08
  • go vote for that feature request then :) Commented May 6, 2010 at 12:15

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