I want the community's opinion on this.

Suppose you have asked a question mainly about ASP.Net. The code-behind files can either be VB.Net or C#. The question is about ASP.Net, the fact that C# and VB.Net are related to ASP.Net is not directly relevant to the question.

Should you...

  • only include the tag ASP.Net, because...
    • This is the tag that is relevant to the question.


  • include the tags, ASP.Net, VB.Net and C#, because...
    • The questions gets more views and therefore more chance of a good answer.
    • These are the communities of coders that are most likely to have an answer for the question.

So basically, should you only include tags directly related to the question, or should you also include tags with related communities/technologies?

An example of what I mean can be seen from a question I asked on StackOverflow:

What are the Advantages/Disadvantages of using the Declarative versus Programmatic Method with ASP.Net?

N.B. (Something I found on the StackOverflow FAQs)

From Tips for effectively tagging questions. FAQ question:

"Pick tags that show higher counts in the look-ahead prompts..."

"At a minimum, try to include at least one very broad tag (i.e., java or c#)..."


Tags should only be chosen that are directly related to the question.

Nothing's more frustrating than going to a question because of a tag and seeing that it really has nothing to do with the topic.

  • Indeed - as general as possible, but no more. False positives and negatives are highly undesirable. – Kyle Cronin Jul 22 '09 at 5:11
  • Yes, please tag things for what they are, not what they relate to. – Ian Elliott Jul 22 '09 at 5:11
  • So, in the example given above, would you say that ASP.Net is inextricably linked to C# or VB.Net? Or is it different enough that you would tag a question such as that only ASP.Net? – Laz Jul 22 '09 at 5:24
  • 2
    @Laz: You should probably tag it asp.net and .net, but not vb.net or c# as those aren't strictly related to your question. – Kyle Cronin Jul 22 '09 at 5:30
  • 1
    @Laz: I agree with Kyle. – Lance Roberts Jul 22 '09 at 14:15

I agree we should only use tags that directly relate to the question. However, in practice, certain tags are being used only to provide context to the question. They say: "I use C#, ASP.NET and Visual Studio 2008", even though the question may be about XML.

I wonder if we should maybe discourage this by adding a <textarea> labeled: "Context" to the top of the question form. A prompt might suggest that people enter as much free-form text as they like, to provide the context. Since they will have entered the context at the top, they'll have less reason to duplicate that information at the bottom, in the tags.

In fact, the prompt for this box should give an example that does not look like a list of tags. Something like, "Visual Studio 2008 SP1 with the MVC package from the June Web Platform Installer" would get the point across. This might make the distinction clear, instead of encouraging people to just enter a list of tags in this box.

I say this even knowing that if this had been done from the start on SO, it would probably have cost me my C# and .NET badges. :-)

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