It's been bothering me lately that nearly all of my SO questions are being re-tagged with the tag.

The reason this has been bothering me is that although I use VB.NET as my example code, my questions are generally not about the language but rather about a feature in or some .NET Library that I'm using. I can very easily convert an answerers c# code over to vb.net and get exactly what I need, however when my post is re-tagged, I fear that my audience is becoming limited because it's not .

Currently there are 13,470 questions tagged with , where there are 134,817 questions tagged with . All of the questions I've been asking are technically language agnostic however I'm using vb.net in the examples that I provide. I don't want to be punished for not using c#, however my audience is thinned out dramatically when a c# developer skims or skips over tagged questions.

I've also noticed that the same thing doesn't happen so often with c#. I did a tag search for and in the first two pages of results I got this many results that have c# examples, yet are NOT tagged with the tag.

I'm wondering if some sort of guideline can be implemented whereby language specific tags are only added to questions that are in fact language specific?


  • How to do a carriage return in VB.NET [Answer] VBCRLF - tag VB.NET
  • How to do a carriage return in C# [Answer] \r\n - tag C#
  • Why am I getting NullReferenceException [Answer] check for null/Nothing - tag .NET
  • See that's a retagging I can live with. Thanks @Jon Seigel – Chase Florell Jan 5 '11 at 2:55

The only things that comes to mind is that you prominently in your question specifies that your question is about .Net generally and that your use of VB to illustrate the problem is just an example.

For example (using the Markdown's ## for <h2> headings)

This is about .Net generally my use VB.Net is just an example.

Other than that use your rollback power and add an explanation as to why.

  • +1 - I agree with you 100%, I'm just hoping that a new "unwritten rule" can be implemented in order to deter people from these needless re-tags. I do rollback every time I can, however, not being notified of an edit makes it impossible for me to stay on top of all my questions. I have also used the same method as you posted above regarding <h3> tags. – Chase Florell Jan 4 '11 at 22:16
  • Not notified of edits? Doesn't your envelope light up to indicate that you have new revisions, @rockin? – Grace Note Jan 4 '11 at 22:18
  • Oh maybe it does, and I just don't make it that far down the tab line. :-s - I usually just look at the comments and answers. – Chase Florell Jan 4 '11 at 22:20

Please do not tag your questions as . Look at the questions in that tag. They are all questions about general programming problems or algorithms and aren't specific to any language. That is what that tag is for. You want your question to be classified as "either C# or VB.NET". That is not language agnostic!

You are writing examples in VB.NET but want answers from the C# programmers. Fine. Please understand that many C# programmers simply do not want to read and respond to code samples in VB.NET. Messing with the tags is not an appropriate way to get their attention in spite of that fact.

The simplest thing for you to do, if you understand C#, would be to just write your examples in C#. If you can't or won't do that, then your question should be tagged . The former tag indicates that your question either wants or contains VB.NET code, which is true. The latter tag indicates that your question is about the .NET Framework in general, which is also true.

Questions that make use of C# code should also be tagged , but the reality is, since an unquestionable majority of .NET programmers use C# exclusively, it's really not necessary. The tag is necessary so C# programmers know what they're getting into.

As Nifle has stated, if you are terribly concerned that readers will incorrectly assume that your question is only about VB.NET, then state explicitly in your question that C# answers are acceptable. But don't try to game the tag system to lure in more readers. If there are C# programmers who don't open [vb.net] questions that are also tagged [.net], then it's because they simply aren't interested in dealing with any VB.NET code in any context.

  • "majority of .NET programmers use C# exclusively, it's really not necessary. The vb.net tag is necessary so C# programmers know what they're getting into." = Exactly the sort of elitist attitude that concerns me about SO. If it's a .net question, then a C# developer OR a VB.NET developer can potentially answer the question. If they get in there and think "hmm I don't want to read through VB", then fine on you go. But don't skip over my question because it has a vb.net tag. Therefore adding the tag to my question does more harm than good. – Chase Florell Jan 5 '11 at 2:20
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    @rock: It's not elitism, it's statistics. The only person here being elitist is you, thinking that other people should have no right to choose which questions they look at based on the tags. Whether you like it or not, the tag is correct. – Aarobot Jan 5 '11 at 3:15
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    it's elitist for me to ask for answerers to answer .net questions without being pigeonholed into a language? – Chase Florell Jan 5 '11 at 3:22
  • @rock: Yes, it absolutely is extremely arrogant of you to believe that your question is so important that every .NET developer must read it regardless of whether or not they're normally willing to slog through someone else's VB.NET code. Just do what every other VB.NET developer does and tag your question [vb.net] already. Or if it's so important to get answers from the larger C# demographic then Write your examples in C#. If it's so easy for you to translate then it shouldn't be a problem, should it? – Aarobot Jan 5 '11 at 17:13

Would it make sense to make a new tag .NET-languages to use for this so that .NET can remain about the framework and language-agnostic can remain truly language agnostic?


I think it ultimately depends on how you form your question. If you were to fill your question full of VB.net code and not explicitly tag it nor mention that the question is language agnostic, you can't blame others for thinking it is meant to be specifically for VB.net. You should tag it , mention in your question explicitly and state that the example code is purely an example (optionally in other applicable languages if you want). Then it makes it clear that you knowingly decided not to tag it for the language and less likely for someone to retag it.

I had a language agnostic question with C# code examples which nobody mistook as a C# only question because I clearly stated that.

About the case of the other .NET questions not being explicitly tagged , I think that's just a side effect of the whole association between C# and .NET and how C# was specifically designed for it. If it's any consolation, it will be less visible to people who have interest in tagged questions conversely.

  • while this is all very true, one can also argue that people shouldn't be re-tagging questions without first reading them. If you read a question in it's entirety, you can usually extract that it's language-agnostic. And if you don't read a question in it's entirety, then you have no right to edit/re-tag/vote to close, etc. – Chase Florell Jan 4 '11 at 22:55
  • @rock: The thing is I've found unfortunately, not everyone reads the entire question if there is a single prominent thing found in the question. Bad grammar? Someone will jump on it immediately instead of seeing that the content is off-topic. Same applies to the programming language. – Jeff Mercado Jan 4 '11 at 23:01
  • haha, that was one of the more entertaining edit histories I've read. Son of bitch. – Chase Florell Jan 4 '11 at 23:10
  • Heh yeah, that's one way to get attention to your question and win mod sympathy. :) – Jeff Mercado Jan 4 '11 at 23:15
  • question: what did you do to get the tags to display the way you did in your answer? – Chase Florell Jan 4 '11 at 23:27
  • @rock: Type it in as [tag:tagname]. You won't see it in the post preview but will be rendered in the actual question/answer. – Jeff Mercado Jan 4 '11 at 23:32
  • beautiful. I love it when I learn something new. does it work with users as well? – Chase Florell Jan 4 '11 at 23:54
  • @rock: No, I believe it's just for tags only. – Jeff Mercado Jan 4 '11 at 23:59
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    -1 and I honestly wish I could -10. [language-agnostic] is blatantly the wrong tag for this. That tag means "any language at all", not "either C# or VB.NET". The sensible thing to do would be to tag it both [c#] and [vb.net], or just state explicitly in the question that C# code is OK. – Aarobot Jan 5 '11 at 1:43
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    @Aarobot: Maybe [language-agnostic] might not be the best but tagging [c#] and [vb.net] alone isn't. The framework isn't just limited to those languages and is not what rock is looking for. His question is open to all .NET languages so what's wrong with using [.net] in conjunction with [language-agnostic]? Maybe I'm wrong to think that there are differing levels of "agnosticism", this clearly isn't programming-language-domain-agnostic but I don't see any reason why it can't be .net-language-domain-agnostic? Introducing a new tag would be overkill. I disagree with your view. – Jeff Mercado Jan 5 '11 at 2:05
  • I agree with @Jeff on this one. If I tag .net as the framework and language-agnostic to say that I don't care about the language you use within the .net framework "should" be a good way to communicate the question's intended audience. – Chase Florell Jan 5 '11 at 2:24
  • @rock: Whether you agree or not is completely irrelevant because that tag has a different meaning! Nothing you can say or do here will make "language agnostic" mean "any .NET language." That's like saying "religion agnostic" means "any denomination of Christianity". It's utter nonsense. – Aarobot Jan 5 '11 at 3:14
  • I think you're off base. Example, I asked a Lucene.net question that got the random vb.net tag added to it when I was asking about lucene filtering. I could have easily lived with a java example as well as C# or VB.NET. – Chase Florell Jan 5 '11 at 3:20
  • @rock: Thanks for linking to that so I could roll back your obnoxious retag. Stop misusing the [language-agnostic] tag. More than 75% of your question is dense VB.NET code. Unlike your own tag abuse, the [vb.net] tag belongs because the question is essentially just line after line of VB.NET code. – Aarobot Jan 5 '11 at 17:16

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