Ok, someone might remember in chat that I asked what is the useful for? I still don't find any use but being merged/changed to window management (don't confuse with window managers, which are tools to do window management). But my question is not about that but is what set in motion the next I will say.

While I was reading the tagging help page I found something interesting: Tags that doesn't carry a meaning for themself should not be used (so called meta-tags). Meta-tags (at least how I interpret them) are tags that whenever they are alone in a question, they don't rise the value of the question. That remembered me a discussion about questions that only have version tags.

If we leave a version tag in a question, by itself doesn't help to organize the site (in fact it needs several or more tags), and since either way in the question the version of Ubuntu should be pointed out whenever is relevant, for me it falls in the category of a meta-tag.

But then, I found http://meta.askubuntu.com/questions/1514/when-should-we-use-the-versions-tags and reading the reason it made me think:

It could be used for determining the age and relevancy of the question.

For that is the "asked" and "active" section at the right.

Tags can be used for searching: https://askubuntu.com/questions/tagged/11.04+upgrade

For that we could use: https://askubuntu.com/search?q=11.04+[upgrade] and it gives even more relevant results since answers can not be tagged and some questions are not properly tagged either.

I find the version tag more useful to questions related to upgrades, bugs, drivers and the use of new software like Unity.

Upgrades question normally (if not always) includes the versions from/target in the question itself, so it's redundant. Bugs are off-topic on the site. If a driver installation answer don't work for an specific version of Ubuntu, either the answer should be expanded or another answer be made and specify for what version of Ubuntu it works.

Jeff seems to share in great part my vision, and he predicted that it could be actually dangerous (I've seen suggested edits just to add a version tag,, and as I said before, questions with only version tags).

I have found answers that, through they have a 12.04 tag attached those apply for 12.10 and 13.04 too, and in some cases if they don't work, someone adds another answer for another version of Ubuntu.

Another problem with these tags (not only the version specific) is that they don't say anything about the questions with the tag.

As part of organizing tags, which list I'm still compiling for tags that require some love (love = (disambiguation | change | merge | synonymize | wiki/excerpt | nuke)) the version tags should also follow.

We could follow the guide identifying meta tags:

  • 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.
  • 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.

I'm tagging this question as discussion. I believe that sometimes my words has some imperative tone, but believe me, I like to hear people opinions more than express my very own (unless you ask for my opinion expressly).

BTW, the meta-tag [meta:tags] has in its excerpt that "Questions about tag and tagging" but there is also the [meta:tagging] tag. -_-

  • I fixed your meta-tag tagging niggle.
    – jokerdino Mod
    Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 17:10
  • @jokerdino You sure you have? :P
    – user98085
    Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 20:51
  • Yep, they are now synonyms of each other now.
    – jokerdino Mod
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


It's hard to know exactly what you're targeting or asking for with your post so I'll just go through it step by step.

  1. Tags like tiling aren't meta, they're adding specificity. We could boil everything back until we had just one tag (ubuntu) and that would be great except that tags would then be completely useless. Tags are supposed to embellish and describe what a post is about. Being over-specific is not a bad thing but being too vague is.

    In reply: Adding in lid and sharing to the debate... Along with tiling, these are all trying to mean something quite specific. The action of closing/opening your laptop and sharing files. Can they be improved? Sure. Pick the right *-sharing and perhaps rename tiling to tiling-window-manager. I don't know what to do with lid but I think there's value in its use that power-management doesn't cover.

  2. Bad tagging shouldn't be an excuse for dumping tags, it should be a call to fix them. Version tags shouldn't be used alone; very few tags should.

    In reply: Some of your questions could benefit from a little extra tagging. The aim isn't to just find one tag that covers the main point, it's to find five tags that apply. This is because similarity between questions is derived from their overlapping tags.

  3. Version tags do add information. As Jorge's answer points out, some issues are inherently tied to a particular version of something in Ubuntu and knowing what version of Ubuntu you're running tends to point out which version of the application you're struggling with.

    In reply: Per #2, having a version tag doesn't hurt, it helps. This is going to become a lot more pronounced and obvious in ten years time once we have shifted graphics stack a few times.

  4. When something becomes not about one version of Ubuntu, the version tag should be removed, or you should add the other versions it applies to. That's a pretty simple edit. By extension, version tags are not a requirement for questions and never have been, they're just useful when relevant.

  5. I don't see how the citation from The Death of Meta Tags applies to what we're talking about here. Tiling, upgrade and version tags all fail the final part of the first bullet you quoted:

    they tell you nothing at all about the content of the question

    Per my #1 and #3, they tell you plenty about the content of the question. They aren't meta tags.

    In reply: Please stop twisting those blog post quotes into making things "meta tags". Meta tags describe the post instead of the question. That's what meta means and that's been made painfully clear by the examples in the blog post. We're still talking about things that describe the question or the problem.

    While they might not be great tags but even on their own in each case, they can still be used to tell you something about the question. If they can be improved (sharingfile-sharing, tilingtiling-window-manager), make that improvement, but calling them "meta" and removing them is destructive.

None of what I'm saying means there's nothing that needs improving in the tagging system and how people have used it over the site because there is plenty to do, I'm just suggesting you're being a little over-critical of tags that do have a purpose here and that you'd do better just to focus on crappy tagging.

I'd focus on making good questions with crappy tagging easier to find, by point of example, finding answered questions with a score of +2 or greater with only one tag, or only a version tag. Making those better interlinked improves their chances of being found by the new question wizard and stopping duplicates.

  • Ok, 1) while I believe that I used tiling as example and not as the only one tag, I'm referring about tags that either has an equivalent more useful or that by their own don't suggest anything, which tiling, lid, sharing, bunch more, are example of this kind of tags.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 3:42
  • 2) I'm trying to fix the bad tagging preventing from occurring in first place, I believe that people (or the system itself) just use whatever tag is popular or seems remotely related instead of something more significant. I remember that I've asked only 5 question and just one required more than 1 tag. What's the difference between my question and everyone else that I see every day?
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 3:42
  • 3) If some issue is tightly tied to some version, the version will be included either in the question or the answer. I've seen several answers with a big title "This only works on 13.04" or "Here is how to do it in 12.04". The answers are what people seek, questions are what answers seek, if the answeres get overwhelmed by a bunch of non-useful meta-tags that doesn't help them to identify a question, then the tag is candidate to be deleted.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 3:43
  • 4) Totally correct. Shall we start reviewing the ~40K questions to verify? 5. But fails at the most important part which I quoted: If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag. and If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it’s probably a meta-tag. for me lid can be: a cointainer, Location IDentifier, lid of a laptop, lid of the monitor, etc. Tiling could be: loop tiling, tiling windows manager, tiled rendering, or organize the windows in tiling.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 3:43
  • The thing with the version tag is, I see that it's about 12.04, but if I don't read the question I don't know anything else. I should be able to read wine or boot or apt-get or radeon and have an idea of what will I found. And if 12.04 or 13.04 couldn't be alone in the question then it's a meta-tag. I think [ul] has a unix and a linux tag, but since unix & linux is the topic there, it has their specific (and very restrictive) uses.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 3:44
  • The before the last paragraph: I want to focus on answering questions! When I mean to fix something that bothers me, I normally go for the definitive solution, which is the case of the tagging. I believe that if we were more restrictive in what we allow to, people might actually follow. About your last paragraph, the problem is that you should not have to find them to fix them, but the question should have them since the begining. I'm suscribed by email to several tags and if nobody fix them (and I hate doing chores) questions that are relevant to me just get lose in the pool of questions.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 3:46
  • Also, I would love a bit more of input from other users, instead of just only you and me. I was giving time to the time to see if anybody seems interested in the topic. BTW, I'm trying of not being harsh with the version tags, I'm being harsh with all the tags that gets just in the way and at the same time follow the guidelines of SE which say "meta tags, tags that cannot stand alone as the only tag on a question, are not allowed."
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 3:52
  • @Braiam In an effort to contain an inevitable comment-catastrophe, I've replied under the bullets in my post. I'd start with my #5 reply because we seem to disagree on what a meta tag is which is rather fundamental to all the points.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 10:56
  • Ok, let me see if I got this straight: tags like tutorial, training, reviews, order (it can be sorting or buying), language tags (bengali, malasian, etc. this is because alone I can't tell if it's about the font, kb layout, localization, or if OP only talks that language). I know there are more but I forgot to note them down.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 16:43
  • I can give an example to what Braiam might be talking about, because I struggled with this on this question. In that question. the problem will also definitely happen to 14.04 users who will be upgrading from 12.04 to 14.04 so it is not necessary 13.10 related. But I ended up creating the apache2.4 tag with an explanation to my edit here.
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 13:21

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