I edited this question on Network naming in Arch Linux and, as the original tags did not fully describe the range of issues at play, I included a couple more, most notably and : both of which are essential to the Arch networking stack.

Another user removed these tags and left a comment reproving me for adding them:

please, don't add tags focusing on the kind of answer it will gather, but in the question itself.

Putting aside for the moment the applicability, or otherwise, of these tags for this question, the more general principle that this approach suggests is that the choice of tags should be circumscribed by the questioner's ignorance.

So, if someone doesn't know that the X server is running their display and they have a question about logging in to a black screen but they don't include , then it shouldn't be added?

By adding additional tags I haven't tampered with the questioner's original intent (or, indeed with the question itself), but added to the relevant metadata attached to the question.

To clarify: should tags only be added that are already explicitly included in the question. And, if not, how much discretion do we have to include additional tags that provide relevant context?


The main function of tags on the site is to allow experts to follow tags that they're able to answer questions about. (They additionally can be used for several other things, like searching, but fulltext and Google do a better job of searching.)

Given, this isn't so important on our fairly small site; it was functionality developed for much larger sites, like Stack Overflow.

So, to determine if a question should be tagged you'd ask yourself, "is this question something that is within the unique expertise of a systemd expert?" The person asking the question takes the initial stab at this, but its ultimately up to the rest of the community how questions are tagged.

Trivial example: if a person asks about getting a script to run every 30 minutes, its appropriate to retag to include even though the OP has obviously never heard of cron.

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    I agree: I am wary of relying on the questioner's understanding of thier issue as opposed to the knowledge and expertise of the people that frequent the site. – jasonwryan Apr 7 '14 at 21:39
  • @jasonwryan I think the bulk of the edits being done by Gilles are in retagging category so if you're confident that the tagging is appropriate then do it. I would educate the user that criticized this and direct them to the chat room if they're still not sure of your actions. – slm Apr 7 '14 at 22:39
  • @slm I was sort of avoiding chat with this question as I wanted to make sure this was the consensus approach and that it was documented here. – jasonwryan Apr 7 '14 at 23:22
  • Your example is biased towards the solution of the problem. I could perfectly run a script every 30 minutes without the use of cron. Is cron a good tool for the task? Yes, but that doesn't mean there aren't other alternatives. – Braiam Apr 12 '14 at 17:14
  • @Braiam cron is the way to do this, therefore adding that tag will bring in the relevant set of experts so the tag is appropriate. – terdon Apr 12 '14 at 18:01
  • @terdon and if I have a system that doesn't have cron? Will you force me to use cron then? – Braiam Apr 12 '14 at 18:20
  • @Braiam Yes. Absolutely. Under penalty of the comfy chair. Serious answer: That's not what the example is. If the question were about how to do this on some system which can't or doesn't run cron, then the question would say that and I'd not tag it cron, because then it's not relevant to a cron expert. – derobert Apr 12 '14 at 18:26
  • Also, stop thinking of tags as exclusive. There are many questions tagged sed and perl and awk, the answers tend to use one or more of these tools. Nobody is saying that if it's tagged perl you must use perl, that's the whole point of having multiple tags. So, you could tag the 30 minute questions with both cron and anacron for example, you're not forcing the OP to do anything. – terdon Apr 12 '14 at 18:32
  • @Braiam Try and manage your networking on Arch without udev and systemd and then talk to me about bias... Really, as I have said repeatedly, both udev and systemd are a prerequisite for networking on Arch, therefore the tags are warranted. – jasonwryan Apr 12 '14 at 19:45
  • @jasonwryan so, following the logic, all questions that has arch and networking should mandatory have udev and systemd? – Braiam Apr 12 '14 at 19:50

Ok, let act like rational people and compare the benefits/costs of adding the tags the way you are doing:

  1. I won't argue the fact that udev/systemd is relevant for the context of the question. But, I would argue that you shouldn't just narrow down the topic to just that?

    You can see Alex answer which doesn't do mention of systemd nor udev, and was able to provide an answer. If the tagging was done in the start and he was ignoring either udev or systemd tag, conscientiously or inconscientiously, he wouldn't be able to share the knowledge he has. This would be prejudicial for SE which objective is sharing knowledge.

  2. Is in our hands explain OP showing the world parting from his point of view. It doesn't matter how good you write an answer if OP himself wouldn't be able to understand how to arrive to the conclusions you have made, and is a fatal mistake presume OP's has other knowledge related to the question he's about to ask. If you don't take into account this, your answer will be rather pointless for OP and any answerer that write a suboptimal answer but it clarifies the OP doubt would be more beneficial.

  3. Remember that tags is the answer to "is my question about ... ?". OP doesn't even know what udev is, nor understand systemd. The scope of his question is within the realm of "Arch Linux" with the subset of "networking" and the "ifupdown" scripts. Any answer that doesn't take into account this and guides OP to the real causes of his issues will be undeniably a bad answer for the OP.

  4. The marginal gains of including more tags is infinitesimally less that the marginal costs of narrowing down the topic. If I could perfectly offer a valid answer without involving udev/systemd and don't do that because the udev or systemd tags or worse, someone looking for the same information but knows what is udev/systemd and is looking for an answer that doesn't involve either, will evade that question because it will interpret that all answers will to some extent touch the topic of udev/systemd which he's not looking for. This would produce a possible duplicated to the same question which could be avoided in the first place with a correct tagging.

  5. More tags means more people might view the question, yes, but it also means that if you narrow it down too much, is more likely people will not look at the question. Is a double-edged sword. That I know enough about a topic, doesn't mean that I will know about all the possibles branch of the topic.

  6. At the end of the day, you didn't need systemd nor udev tags to find the question, which means that is very likely that the tagging was done perfectly fine.

  7. Is true that you can use as many tags as you like, but keep them pertinent/relevant to the question asked. This goes both ways: that I want to install something from source and I incidentally used firefox to download it doesn't mean that the question needs the firefox tag; that incidentally the question is related to udev/systemd but isn't included in the body of the question nor interactions with OP makes you think he has knowledge about it doesn't meant that you should tag it with udev/systemd.

Relevant https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/59334/213575

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    1) Alex's answer also involves udev, he just doesn't realize 2) Seems completely irrelevant, of course answers should be clear, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't retag the question with the relevant tags 3) Again you're talking about answers in any case, an OP's ignorance is not a good reason to not retag correctly 4) Not marginal and adding more tags doesn't narrow things down, on the contrary, removing tags does. 5) seems to be the same as 4 and is not true since more tags make a question more general. – terdon Apr 12 '14 at 17:59
  • 6) Come on! Because one expert found it despite its lacking the relevant tags means that everyone will? 7) The tags that Jason added were pertinent and relevant to the question. The naming scheme of NIC cards is handled by systemd/udev therefore those tags are relevant and should be included. As I said, the OP's ignorance is no reason to allow incomplete tagging. – terdon Apr 12 '14 at 18:00
  • @terdon Sorry, but that's not the case meta.stackexchange.com/q/1024/213575 – Braiam Apr 12 '14 at 18:07
  • @terdon more on the topic meta.stackexchange.com/a/59334/213575 – Braiam Apr 12 '14 at 18:12
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    I don't know which of my points you are referring to but none of them seem in any way relevant to that link which is talking about tagging answers. Jason's retag was not based on his answer but on the question itself. In any case, even retagging based on the answers is a good thing. If the OP had tagged as sed and then accepted a perl answer and the post also has an upvoted awk solution, both perl and awk should be added to the question's tags since that will help future visitors find it and will correctly categorize the post. – terdon Apr 12 '14 at 18:12
  • OK, this one is a little bit more relevant. Again though 1) the retagging here was not based on the answer at all, it was based on the question 2) I disagree with that link. On this site we have tag-dependent syntax highlighting for example. This means that people often retag to add the relevant language tag and activate the coloring. Also, if a question can be answered using many tools and the OP has only mentioned one, it is good to bring the other tags because that way experts in the other tools will notice the question. – terdon Apr 12 '14 at 18:15
  • @terdon the point made on the post is that content is indexed along with answers and questions. Even if you don't tag it as "udev" or "systemd" people will find them because the answers contains the keywords. – Braiam Apr 12 '14 at 18:15
  • No they won't. Why do you insist on this? One of the main uses of tags is to "favorite" them so questions tagged with them are highlighted. If the tag is not there this will not happen, so experts will not find the question as easily. – terdon Apr 12 '14 at 18:16
  • @terdon but it already has an answer. The one doing the retaggin was after he answered the question. – Braiam Apr 12 '14 at 18:17
  • Huh? What does? The OP? So what? How is that relevant to anything? Are you saying that because it was answered therefore it was "findable"? That's absurd! It's like saying that because you got heads when tossing a coin once, you will always get heads with every coin toss. The point is to make it easy for experts to find questions, that someone found a Q even without the right tags is not an argument against them. – terdon Apr 12 '14 at 18:18
  • @terdon it had the right tags the very same moment it was asked. Why are you trying to edit something when the edit adds no value whatsoever? – Braiam Apr 12 '14 at 18:20
  • Because they do Braiam. That's our entire point. The question was actually about systemd/udev since that is what controls the naming of the cards. The OP did not know this but perhaps the next person to search will. Also, now it will be highlighted for those who like the udev tag and could get even more good answers. My point is that Jason already knew that this was a systemd/udev thing, he did not retag to make it fit his answer better, his answer was already fine. He retagged because the information in the question showed that the tags were relevant. – terdon Apr 12 '14 at 18:21
  • @terdon and more on the topic meta.stackexchange.com/a/176406/213575, BTW, if networking + arch = udev & systemd is redundant adding such tags since it empirically implies that all networking related questions will have udev and systemd tags – Braiam Apr 12 '14 at 18:24
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    There is a reason the other answer doesn't mention either tag: the same reason that it doesn't have an upvote nor a green tick... Seriously @Braiam, you need to learn to accept when you are wrong: typing more than the other person doesn't make your argument the better one. – jasonwryan Apr 12 '14 at 19:42
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    @Braiam I could continue to argue, but you are clearly not intent on entertaining other points so I'll save myself the effort. – jasonwryan Apr 12 '14 at 19:47

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