Right now there are 3 tags for php: (52,704), (2,477), and (170). However if you look at the state of , it seems most questions are tagged blindly with , even though it applys to PHP in general.

Should we distinguish languages based solely on versions? Right now in order to effectively follow PHP you need to follow all the tags (some questions only include ). This also makes it a mess to search for anything.

I think that a language version tag should only be used in very special cases, and the more general tag is for the current version of the language. In Javaland, I don't tag my questions ; it is assumed you mean that. If for some reason you are developing pre-generics, then and only then would you specify, for example, . For most of the other languages I see, this is what's normally followed.

Why can't this apply to PHP? PHP5 is still syntactically similar to regular PHP (except when OOP comes in). Just make a synonym for , and this could be solved easily.


Perhaps a better question is why this synonym was removed on August 2nd. The request links to this question, which makes no sense. The synonym was removed by 1 person with 0 comments or discussion.

Need some examples of the PHP != PHP5 problem?

Thats just the top few. I could go on and on about the state of the [php5] tag. Waflles says tag synonyms weren't meant for this, but I say tagging wasn't meant to be useless. This is clearly not what the system was designed for.

Mass retagging isn't going to help either, as many people would still tag generic PHP questions [php5]. We just need a synonym. Until then PHP tagging will continue to go down the drain.

  • 6
    php4 is officially dead and EOLed for more than 2 years now. PHP 5 is the only PHP now.
    – StasM
    Dec 13, 2010 at 7:19
  • What happens when PHP 6 is released? Does php6 become the new php?
    – user164291
    Dec 12, 2011 at 20:19

6 Answers 6


You can't stop people from tagging the question wrong.

Fact is PHP5 != PHP

  • 2
    Did you even read the last part? 75% of PHP5 questions are tagged wrong. And do you tag Java questions java-1.6?
    – TheLQ
    Aug 10, 2010 at 22:56
  • 2
    @Lord So? There's nothing that can be done about it. A synonym is NOT the answer Aug 10, 2010 at 23:01
  • 9
    @Lord I would if I were talking about a java 1.6-specific feature Aug 10, 2010 at 23:01
  • 1
    @Null: So, the answer is to ignore it? *claps at SO community's ability to innovate.
    – TheLQ
    Aug 11, 2010 at 0:15
  • 4
    @Lord The solution is to manually retag questions that don't belong to that tag. Aug 11, 2010 at 0:33
  • 3
    @Lord: If you have better suggestions that don't have other negative side-effects, we are all ears. Aug 11, 2010 at 0:57
  • @Lord.Quackstar: Maybe suggest a [feature-request] that version specific tags cause a "are you sure this is a version specific question?" popup Aug 11, 2010 at 7:52
  • I'm accepting this since its mainly user error. In case you haven't noticed, I've tried to retag questions that aren't php5 specific. Guess we just have to keep moderating until its permanent.
    – TheLQ
    Aug 23, 2010 at 2:11
  • 4
    I think the fact is exactly the opposite - PHP is PHP 5. PHP 4 is EOLed for 2 years now, so if there's a question pertaining to it, it should be marked separately, if it is not - it's PHP 5.
    – StasM
    Dec 13, 2010 at 7:22
  • @StasM And what about future versions?
    – Latty
    Jun 13, 2012 at 16:22
  • 1
    @Lattyware if we have PHP 6, initially it'd be useful to have php6 tag, since there probably would be things that are only in php6 and whoever looks at the question should know that the question relates to the new things. As it will become mainstream (probably will take years) we could alias it too if we ever come to a point where PHP means PHP 6 - as it is now with PHP 5.
    – StasM
    Jun 14, 2012 at 0:22
  • @StasM That moving target seems to be an annoyance. Why not simply have the php tag mean any version of PHP, and if the question pertains to a particular version, use that version's tag?
    – Latty
    Jun 14, 2012 at 0:50
  • @Lattyware we're talking here about hypothetical that may or may not happen in 5 or more years. Not much of a moving target really.
    – StasM
    Jun 14, 2012 at 5:03
  • I do not share your opinion here. That fact you claim is - in my eyes - not reflecting the reality on site well.
    – hakre
    Dec 20, 2012 at 9:51
  • @Lattyware That moving target is the reality of things. I mean, if a question is tagged with [php], you'll assume the asker is not using a version as old as php 4. This translates into the php6 question as well, you'll assume php 5 until 6.0 is released, it may be a little foggy while five.last and 6.0 are the maintained versions and you may still not blindly assume a version when 6.0 and 6.1 are maintained, but as enough time passes, you will at one point start assuming php 6
    – Jasper
    Dec 20, 2012 at 15:51

i suggest tag inheritance.

something like php5 extends php and php4 extends php

this means everything tagged as [php5] is automatically also tagged [php], but a question tagged as [php] will not automatically get tagged as [php5].

people interested only in php5 questions can follow only the [php5] tag. people interested in php in generall need to follow only [php] and will automatically also follow [php5] and [php4]

having [php] and [php5] as synonyms will not allow this differentiation.

note: tag inheritance will not solve the problem of people tagging their question wrong (tagging [php5] when it is not php5 specific), that can only be solved by educating and retagging.

  • I can see problems with this in light of the 5 tag limit. Should the tags that are acquired through inheritance override the limit? If so, I can picture myself and others gaming the system to get as much tags as possible on questions. The more tags, the more views right? Aug 12, 2010 at 8:06
  • @aar: You could game it now too, e.g. by tagging [php]+[c#]+[javascript]+[java]+[iphone], but you'll most likely get rude comments and some quick edits instead of more useful answers. Aug 12, 2010 at 8:55
  • 1
    @Georg Point well taken. I was thinking along the lines of more relevant tags. For example [jquery] + [http] + [Ajax] + [kohana]. I imagine, [jquery] extends [javascript] and [kohana] extends [php5] which also extends[php] so now I have 7 (arguably) on topic tags for my question. I hope that wouldn't be rude. Aug 12, 2010 at 20:07

Right now in order to effectively follow PHP you need to follow all the tags (some questions only include [php5]). This also makes it a mess to search for anything.

No it doesn't; just use tag wildcards.

On the client it's php*

on the server it's php~


A tag synonym would just make the situation worse as questions specifically about [php5] etc. would be wrongly aligned to [php].

In this case there is no sensible way around manually retagging those according to the questions content.

  • Once again, it is assumed that the generic tag is about the most recent version. No other language I see has a large subset of questions tagged for the most recent version, except PHP. Let me repeat that: Nobody else does this
    – TheLQ
    Aug 10, 2010 at 23:02
  • 6
    @Lord: And what will you do when PHP6 comes out? Go back and manually retag all PHP5-specific ones? And "nobody else does this" just ain't true - see e.g. all the version specific Java, Python, Ruby, C#, ... tags. Aug 10, 2010 at 23:08
  • 1
    What PHP 6 comes out, most of the questions marked now php5 would actually apply to php 6 too, since it'd be backwards-compatible enough.
    – StasM
    Dec 13, 2010 at 7:23
  • @StasM: Maybe "most", still not "all". Dec 13, 2010 at 12:24
  • 1
    By "most" I actually mean "all within small margin of error" - like questions about compatibility between PHP 5 and earlier versions.
    – StasM
    Dec 14, 2010 at 17:51
  • There are no PHP5 only questions. The differences between versions are well captured in the overall PHP tag as it covers all versions. There might be version specific questions, but those have a specific version like 4.0.9 or 5.3.6 and PHP5 tag can't say that in specific.
    – hakre
    Jun 13, 2012 at 10:58

I'm reviewing the tags lately and as far as my experience is concerned there is not much to argue. I don't know if a synonym makes it, but you can safely prevent users to add the PHP 5 tag to a question.

What actually would be useful would be to have them use PHP 5.3 or 5.2 etc. instead. Because that actually would make a difference.

I assume that PHP 5 as tag is something like from the times when there was a switch from PHP 4.4 / 4.3 to 5.0. But well, that's not even close to today.


Well, I half see some of the points highlighted here (still think a tag synonym would help), I'll give up trying to get a synonym.

For right now, I'll go through the most recent 100 or so [php5] questions and retag anything that isn't absolutely specific to PHP5. I might retag a few wrong, but I'll try and do it as best as I can (1 error our of 100 questions I think is somewhat acceptable). However I don't follow [PHP] as much as I follow [Java], so don't expect me to keep constantly doing it.

  • 1
    "Accept my own answer tomorrow" Hmm, never run into this problem before.
    – TheLQ
    Aug 11, 2010 at 11:03

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