Ubuntu is trying to tell me something

In the course of removing the tag from a few posts I encountered the tag , which is currently attached to 62 questions.

It seems these questions are about:

  • wanting to send some information somewhere somehow, probably in words.
  • some information, probably in the form of words, being produced or failing to be produced by some process

This seems to me to be an excessively diverse range of situations to be meaningfully grouped by a tag.

Is there some specific, well-defined meaning of messages in the context of Ubuntu that I am not aware of (maybe /var/log/messages?) and that we might be able to try to restrict this tag to with proper usage guidance and... a lot of vigilance? Is there another reason why this tag is useful?

Or, should we edit those posts (taking care to improve everything else about the post if possible while doing so) to get rid of this tag?


2 Answers 2


Since /var/log/messages doesn't even exist by default in Ubuntu (14.04 & 16.04 checked) I don't think the log argument is a relevant reason for retaining this tag.

The only possible use for this tag that I can see is if perhaps someone is looking for how to send a message (or messages) to another user, terminal, or system. Perhaps they are looking for the write or wall command or possibly notify-send. I don't know if this is enough to justify keeping the tag as these may be edge cases that rarely surface. I do however think it's a possibility and worthy of discussion in this context.

Edit: There are currently 16 messages that have this tag. Other than the few talking about a "message indicator", the vast majority have nothing in common that might be useful in narrowing down a search. I support eliminating the tag or at the very least discouraging it's use.

  • Yeah, I'm not sure when /var/log/messages disappeared... I think those use cases are too diverse to merit a tag - we have tags for the relevant commands/apt and also the tag [notifications]
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 13:31
  • @Zanna I'm not sure either. Perhaps the messages tag should suggest using logs or notifications, rather than burning the tag just to have it recreated at some point down the line. I still haven't finished my coffee so I have yet to form a final opinion.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 13:37
  • I would even suggest using messaging instead of messages in the case you describe above. But I would still agree that we probably don't need the tag anyway.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 14:14
  • Even if we decide to use the tag for such purposes, looking at the current crop, it will be very hard to stop it being used for random things...
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 15:03
  • @Zanna I agree that mis-tagging is not something that will be resolved regardless of how we handle messages I'm simply thinking about possible valid uses for the tag as opposed to simply dismissing it out of hand. I am in no way attached to the messages tag and it won't effect me personally in any way if it's burned completely. I'm just trying to put myself in the shoes of a neophyte whilst pondering this.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 13:38

The tag usage guidance:

Goes often with "log" or a name of a program that gives the message. Is usually a symptom of a problem, and for some, the only thing they have by which they can search for solution.

It is just really unnecessary for people to tag questions as ; they might have a log message, but in that case they should use the , so they don't even need that tag as well.

Another issue is that this tag won't help anyone diagnose their problem based on what others have encountered. Take a look at the questions tagged : they are mostly either about logs or involve log messages, which could be produced for various reasons.

I do agree that this tag should be eliminated from Ask Ubuntu. There may be packages that are named message-sth or sth-message; I believe there are some, and they do not produce much problems to Ubuntu, but if they require tags, a more specific one like could be used.

  • 6
    I think the wiki excerpt / usage guidance is really vague
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 10:23
  • I mean, yeah, so I don't think it's really that necessary to have the tag... Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 2:25
  • 1
    It is as vague as tagging questions with "Ubuntu". I mean, if something doesn't work and you have an error message of course you should include it. There is no need for this tag. Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 20:41

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