I have seen the blog post and discussion re: the Death of Meta Tags. I understand the reasoning but as a hobbyist coder, the loss of meta tags such as "beginner" has made stackoverflow dramatically less useful for me.

I used to come to the site daily to learn something new. It didn't matter what language/library/platform/tool was being discussed - it was all good and likely new to me. Now unless I have the time to browse or have a very specific question, it just doesn't make sense.

I'm sure I'm in the minority - so please don't take this as a rant. It's not. I just learned a lot more from the old Stack Overflow.

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    +1, I also wanto to know. – Camilo Martin Aug 23 '10 at 12:17
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    FWIW: there's something really nice on the way for those of us who just like to browse SO reading good answers. Eat your waffles... – Shog9 Aug 23 '10 at 14:58
  • @Shog9 - any update on this front? – timepilot Sep 10 '10 at 14:19
  • @timepilot: check out the hot answers pages now available for the tag of your choice. – Shog9 Sep 10 '10 at 14:30
  • @Shog9: helpful, thx – timepilot Sep 10 '10 at 14:36
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    @Shog9: the hot answer feature is nice but not a replacement for the old beginner tag. Still struggling to find the same quality/relevant content as before. – timepilot Sep 26 '10 at 10:00

The problem with meta tags was that they were often misused. [beginner] was one of the worst - many users would tag another person's question as [beginner], which is wrong. Some people may see this retagging as an assessment of their ability based on the question they asked, and might take offense. It's also subjective, what's beginner to some people is intermediate or advanced to others. Who gets to decide?

Even worse was the [subjective] tag. Users would come here and complain that their posts were closed, even though they added the [subjective] tag. Arguments would occur in question comments for the same reason. The point is, subjective questions aren't allowed on Stack Overflow, using this tag as an "escape clause" was just annoying.

Yes, some meta tags were kind of useful. FWIW, I liked the [best-practices] one, although I think that's because when it was here I was one tag closer to the generalist badge. ;-)

I can't see meta tags coming back. However, some meta tags will stay under the radar - Jeff said himself that he's not going to specifically look for meta tags to ban. I do wonder if some meta tags should be allowed, perhaps in a different style (like the moderator-only tags here), and you couldn't earn badges on them.

  • I understand. Sadly, at least for me, it has made "discovery" much worse. – timepilot Aug 23 '10 at 12:14
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    I must confess, I will miss the irony that so often surrounded [best-practices]. – Shog9 Aug 23 '10 at 14:53
  • Several meta tags do still exist, the most notable probably being [polls] and (lamentably) [discussion]. The former is fairly useful as an ignored tag; it's unambiguous, difficult to misuse, and something that a lot of people don't want to see. I doubt that anybody has it as a favourite, though. – Aarobot Aug 23 '10 at 21:26
  • It seems like the answer to this is simply to let someone tag their own question as beginner, but not anyone else's. – lala May 11 '11 at 20:24
  • best-practices was a good and practical tag. – Lance Roberts Jul 22 '11 at 23:14

The little used [fundamentals] tag is scores better than [beginner] for describing "basic" questions about... well, fundamentals. Even that tag is somewhat subjective in its meaning, but at least it has a meaning.

Honestly, I could lament the disappearance of the [beginner] and [best-practices] tags since they put me much closer to Generalist. But they're just bad tags, and not only because they're meta tags. [beginner] describes the author, not the question, and a relative beginner could still be asking an advanced question. On the flip side, many [beginner] questions are likely be to horrifying wall-of-code questions that are clearly "noobish" but won't actually teach anything useful to another beginner in the field. The [fundamentals] tag at least rules those out.

Perhaps [beginner] was once a good tag meaning roughly the same as what [fundamentals] means today, but it was just too far gone. Cleaning up that tag would have involved manually retagging thousands of questions.

The question really shouldn't be "can we get the meta tags back?" The question should really be, "what tags can we use that would be better?" I think that for every zapped meta/dependent tag that actually had a useful subset of questions, there is an even more useful non-meta tag that could describe that same subset while at the same time excluding most of the cruft from the zapped tag.


I can't think of a single "feature" that's been implemented that has ever been rolled back. Of course, that could just be my memory going, but don't hold your breath in anticipation.


No, meta-tags aren't coming back.

I used to come to the site daily to learn something new. It didn't matter what language/library/platform/tool was being discussed - it was all good and likely new to me. Now unless I have the time to browse or have a very specific question, it just doesn't make sense.

Why aren't you browsing hot questions in [c#] or [python] or [ruby], then? Plenty to learn from popular questions -- you don't need some meaningless [foo] tag to find good questions.

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    I do but it's very inefficient and I still don't find all the material I used too. Discovery is way down. I wish I had a screenshot of the "beginner" section. On one page I would find new posts for python, haskell, vim, iphone, etc. In fact, the reason I started experimenting with haskell was I was inspired by a question I found in the beginner section - prior to that I never looked in the haskell section. SO was a site where I could discover/learn (50%) and search/learn (50%) - now it's more like 10% / 90%. – timepilot Aug 24 '10 at 13:46
  • It's still the best resource available and I'm very thankful for your work. – timepilot Aug 24 '10 at 13:47

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