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In my opinion, the latter is OK. I propose we make an effort to clean these tags up or leave comments to OPs so they can clarify their meanings. is too nebulous to be used without context.

  • I think the database tag should be deleted. I'd be surprised if there were any questions that were tagged only by the database tag. Oct 30, 2012 at 12:35

3 Answers 3


How can you tell you’re using a meta-tag?

  1. If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag. Every tag you use should be able to work, more or less, as the only tag on a question. Meta-tags, like [beginner], [subjective], and [best-practices], are useless by themselves — they tell you nothing at all about the content of the question.

  2. If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it’s probably a meta-tag. In a cruel, ironic twist, the meaning of the tag [subjective] itself … is actually subjective. Ditto for [best-practices] and [beginner]. Best practices to whom? Beginner by what criteria? These tags are impossible to define by anything remotely resembling an objective metric. In comparison, the the meaning of tags like [java], [c#], and [javascript] are crystal clear to all but the nuttiest of nutbags.

Although the database tag is broad, IMO it can work as the only tag on a question, and it only means one thing. It therefore is suitable as a tag on SO.

  • The issue I have is when the tags read: sql mysql database .. well, mysql is a database so it is redundant. It can be a meta tag. Aug 28, 2010 at 20:25
  • yes, it is suitable because it can work as the only tag. Aug 29, 2010 at 6:38
  • @JeffAtwood: Disagree. That's like saying "language" works as a tag in addition to "Java", "C" and "PHP", and can stand alone. In practice, it would rarely if ever stand alone. Oct 30, 2012 at 12:39
  • @ChrisGerken Just because a tag is sometimes, or even misused, doesn't mean it's a meta tag. One can have a question about databases that isn't specific to any particular database, just like one can have questions about programming languages that aren't specific to any particular programming language. Now, if we find that, in practice a tag is abused vastly more than it is used properly it may be decided that it has a net negative value, but that still doesn't make it a meta tag.
    – Servy
    Oct 30, 2012 at 14:05
  • @Servy: I disagree. If the question is too general to apply to any one database vendor then it very likely doesn't belong in SO. The only exception might be questions about SQL, but that's what the sql tag is for. Oct 30, 2012 at 14:20
  • @ChrisGerken That's different than calling it a meta tag though. You're using the rules for applying a meta tag to try to make your argument. It possible that the tag doesn't belong despite not being a meta tag, for example because it's overly broad and therefore doesn't have enough added value to be worthwhile, but that's a separate argument.
    – Servy
    Oct 30, 2012 at 14:24
  • @Servy: metatag or not, it the database tag should be nuked. Oct 30, 2012 at 14:38

But which one would you follow for database questions?

I would almost want a [database-agnostic] tag instead of just [database] because right now [database] is so generic that it applys to everything. If it was [database-agnostic] then the amount of mistagged questions would go down since they have nothing to do with each other.

On a related note, should [mysql] questions be tagged [sql] as well? It seems a bit redundant and is just tag farming. [mysql] implies [sql] but there are probably more people following the generic [sql] to keep sanity.

  • that's my point. Unless you have a question about SQL use on MYSQL, I guess it is ok, but the point is that you are targeting MYSQL not SQL. The only time I'd expect it to be OK is if you were database-agnostic, as you suggested. Then you could do sql database-agnostic as your tags. Aug 28, 2010 at 20:47
  • I believe in practice folks follow vendor-specific tags. For example, I'll follow Cassandra and Hive, but have no interest in MySQL, Oracle or DB2. Oct 30, 2012 at 12:33

I Disagree:

database tag is fine for general database questions like:

  1. "Which database works well with PHP?"
  2. Top 3 database used in Industry?
  3. Benefits of Database Backups?

The list is endless...

  • why not php-database, industry-databases, and database-backups ? Aug 28, 2010 at 20:46
  • 1
    @Changeling I don't know about those tags... a generic tag like [database] is meant to encompass all those topics
    – TheLQ
    Aug 28, 2010 at 21:22
  • 2
    I'd flag each of those for deletion as product comparison questions Oct 30, 2012 at 12:33

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