Today I noticed while reviewing suggested edits that someone had helpfully suggested a tag wiki and excerpt for .

I improved (er, in my own biased opinion) the suggestions, and I wrote in both that the top bar is a panel (it's just a panel in a particular place, I thought, though I may be wrong, and please correct me if so).

Is there any reason not to synonymise to the much more populated ? It seems a good idea to have a tag with the name top bar since it's a common term for the panel at the top of the screen, but I can't think of any reason for it to be a separate tag. What is displayed in any particular panel varies by DE and over time, so the exact content of each panel can't be thought of as standard, I would think.

  • 1
    If that was done, it should then also synonymise with taskbar askubuntu.com/questions/tagged/taskbar that is what I would know top bar as and it has a good discription.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 9:37
  • you do seem to be correct on that one, didn't think of that before making that suggestion, thanks for the edit I guess
    – akxer
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 10:12
  • Although I would say it is particularly powerful in some environments as they house system controls and other important things from the OS
    – akxer
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 10:19
  • I don't see any overwhelming consensus behind the idea of merging [top-bar] and [panel], let alone a unanimous one. So why has exactly the "mergepocalypse" started already?
    – pomsky
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 12:14
  • @pomsky what's happening?
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 15:25
  • @Zanna Number of questions tagged going down rapidly.
    – pomsky
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 15:32
  • @pomsky :( not me... don't know who's doing it
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 20, 2018 at 16:33

4 Answers 4


I'm not really comfortable with the idea of merging with . Here's why:

"Top bar" in the context of GNOME 3 means something specific (analogous to in Unity), not exactly same as "panel" as in GNOME 2 or others DEs like MATE, KDE etc.

Why are they different?

Panels are mostly very easily customisable and can be handled intuitively, whereas GNOME 3 top bar is pretty "rigid". One can easily move panels from one edge to another, add or delete them with 2/3 clicks, add/remove "applets", "widgets" etc. to them just like that (with right-clicks or something similar). But nothing like these can be done with GNOME 3 top bar, only somewhat user friendly way is to use a bunch GNOME shell extensions which are nothing but monkey patches.

Note that top bar comes with GNOME 3 by default, but to get proper panels your need to install gnome-panel package.

So I think as in GNOME 3 should not be merged with , but it can do with some tag-wiki edit (it's mostly empty as of now). Or better, it should be renamed as something like in order to avoid confusion and wrong-tagging (all the tagged questions are indeed about GNOME top-bar as of now).

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    I think renaming [top-bar] to [gnome-top-bar] would be the best option, if we can expect that tag to be used consistently
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 11:28
  • Seems the panel in unity was never actually called the menu bar and that's just another poorly named tag on Ask Ubuntu o.O
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 13:57
  • @Zanna Well, at least Ubuntu (Canonical Ltd.) calls/called it so.
    – pomsky
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 14:03
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    And what are we gonna do about budgie's top bar then ? :) Commented May 14, 2018 at 19:36
  • @SergiyKolodyazhnyy Good question! If I'm not mistaken Budgie's top-bar behaves almost like GNOME 3 top-bar. What's your thought?
    – pomsky
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 19:42
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    @pomsky I expressed that in an answer. All I can say is that IMHO [top-bar] is just clear. [panel] - isn't and open to whole lot of confusion. Synonimizing the two may add to confusion. Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:10
  • @SergiyKolodyazhnyy Exacly, that's my point too: top-bars are "rigid" whereas panels are "flexible".
    – pomsky
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:12
  • 1
    We can make [budgie-top-bar] too :) IMHO specific tags are always better than vague ones. You folks know the difference between a panel and a top bar, but do the majority of users? cc @SergiyKolodyazhnyy
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:17
  • @Zanna Agreed, specific tags are better, but then again why can't a question be tagged both [budgie] and [top-bar] ? Multiple tags strung together can be good enough, and avoids making tags for every part of a desktop environment. As for the majority of the users, let's be fair: they may not know at first, but they'll pick up with the help of editing and comments from the community, and perhaps it's better for some users to learn proper terminology if they're serious about daily use of a desktop environment on Linux, i.e. tag synonyms can only help so much, users have to learn,too. Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:27
  • @Zanna That would always be a problem. I have seen many users use the word "panel" and the corresponding tag too where they actually meant a dock.
    – pomsky
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:30
  • @SergiyKolodyazhnyy I am fine with a question about Budgie's top bar being tagged [budgie] and [top-bar]. That's wonderful. What I am worried about is swathes of random stuff that has nothing to do with any top bar being tagged [top-bar]. pomsky found that 1/5 of the posts in this tag were incorrectly tagged.
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:37
  • @pomsky Oh sure, I totally agree that users very often choose wrong tags. But we should try to help them by at least making better tags. Maybe [panel] is too vague and should ideally be broken into more accurate descriptions!
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:40
  • @Zanna Well, is that a tag problem then ? If a user tags a question [command-line] and it has nothing to do with command-line at all, then it's PEBKAC and lack of editing around. There's some level of non-sequitor here. Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:44
  • @SergiyKolodyazhnyy ok, there are always going to be users approaching stuff with a high level of cluelessness, but the more ambiguous the tag names are, the larger the number of wrongly tagged questions there will be. The tag [command-line] has the clearest name we could come up with. Why not do better when we can see the way? Anyway, I appreciate you & pomsky explaining that "top bar" is totally different from "panel". I had no idea! Seems like now we have a great opportunity to look at and improve tagging and tag wikis in this topic
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:56
  • @Zanna Glad I could help :D I just think wrongly tagged questions aren't gonna be resolved just with editing tags alone, but hey whatever helps is good. Commented May 14, 2018 at 20:59

Usage of and is a little bit confusing either way whether they are linked together as synonyms or not, but in my opinion it would be less confusing if was made synonymous with . For the question of deciding whether or should be the principal tag, in its various forms for the different *buntu flavors is the clear winner with 1212 questions tagged compared to only 20 questions tagged with and many of these 20 questions are about the top bar of applications, not about that bar at the top of the screen that is called the Panel in Ubuntu.

The tag has been used as wildcard tag. is frequently used as a tag for menu bar exactly, but it has also been misused as an alternative tag for and other tags. and should be treated as two logically distinct tags, not as synonyms of each other. Otherwise we're going to get questions about menu bars, toolbars, taskbars, coffee bars and crowbars that are tagged with the tag too.


The tag makes sense because it's specific.

Top bars, like in case of Budgie, Unity, or GNOME, are all used to do what exactly ? Have a few indicators, display time, connection, calendar, maybe have a menu/list of all programs. And it stays....well...on top and usually is an integral part of the desktop environment.

Then there's docks, bars, panels, launchers. There's mate-panel, lxpanel, lxqt-panel, xfce4-panel-dbg , razorqt-panel. While those can have applets for calendar, connection, time, etc - they're (re)movable and separately-installable! I can have Budgie running and still have mate-panel on top. But then there's docks: docky, plank, cairo-dock, tint2 (which calls itself panel/taskbar) etc. They're also (re)movable and separate from desktop. While they can be placed on top of the screen, they're not necessarily meant to be there.

I think synonimizing the two only adds confusion, especially in the comments. Imagine the conversations:"Are you talking about the GNOME 2 panel or that side launcher ?". Whereas when I see that'd be a clear indicator (all pun intended) what the user is talking about. But then again, this is just my very much biased opinion.


I'd like to suggest that the tag be done away with. I propose the following criteria:

  • if the "thing" can be used by itself, or customised by itself, it might make sense to refer to it with tag - in which case we tag it with a suitable name, like , , *, (which are the names of the respective software, afaict), or, alternatively, with + .
  • if the "thing" is an inflexible component of something else, which can't be customised or used on its own, but only via the larger something else, then we should tag it with that something else - , ...

* it seems the XFCE4 Panel is called , even though neither the package nor the command uses this name.

  • This is a far better idea than merging [top-bar] and [panel] imo.
    – pomsky
    Commented May 19, 2018 at 15:01

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