There are many questions using the tags , , . A cursory look suggests that most questions are about terminal emulators and their configuration, while questions are can be about shell programming, about finding the right utility to accomplish a task, or occasionally about the terminal. Shell questions are currently spread over , (sometimes with or ) and (plus specific shells, of course).

I think it would be better to stick shell programming and shell configuration questions under one tag ( unless they're specific to a particular shell), and I suggest the following distinction, but don't feel strongly about it. Counter-proposals (including “it's just fine as it is because …”) are welcome.

  • : shell interaction (line edition, prompt, history, etc.), and one-liners.
  • + , or maybe : shell scripting (anything complex enough that you'd put it in a file, whether it's your .bashrc or a standalone script).
  • (synonym ): automating a task, not necessarily in a shell language
  • : “How do I do X on the command line?”
  • : about the terminal (emulator).

It would be nice to be consistent with other Stack Exchange sites (but that's not a requirement, and they're not consistent anyway).

Update: A few months later, I think that and are used mostly as above, and is mostly used for shell programming (with or without or [shell-scripting]). Why not, but surely one of and should go.

  • 1
    Given enough semicolons, you can transform most scripts to one-liners. Apr 7, 2011 at 15:40

2 Answers 2


In general I agree with the meanings that you have outlined and would be happy to help in a retagging effort if we decide to go that way. Here are a few comments:

  • Whatever we decide to do, it is important that new users not get badgered just because they tagged a question as . I doubt we would have a problem with that, but I could easily see it alienating new users.

  • I've always struggled with the conflict between my personal desire to give every tag within a tagging system a clear meaning and the knowledge that sometimes fuzzy tags (that is, tagging questions even if it doesn't technically makes sense), can add value to a tagging system since it allows questions/items to be found even by those who use the words differently. We should at least recognize that there is a trade-off that occurs when we remove the tag from or questions. Many new users view anything you type into the black box with blinking cursor as relating to a "terminal" since that is what they clicked on to get there.

  • While I don't think being consistent with SO or SU is that important, it would be nice to be consistent with AU, that way it would be easy to find similar questions across the two sites. I don't visit AU very much, but I imagine that many of the , , and questions would be of interest to both user groups and we could cut down on unnecessary work by easily being able to reference articles from each other.

  • I don't like . I have no reason other than immediate emotional response to seeing it.

I think we should allow to be fairly broad and I think your definition does that well.

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    if you need to retag a lot of things, flag for mod attention to this post and we can do a moderator (diamond) rename or merge -- that will be easier. Jan 2, 2011 at 0:01

Users almost certainly won't use those tags correctly, since most people don't understand the distinction in the first place, but we should be able to retag posts that are wrong. I prefer to + , and to , although it's probably a little confusing to use for things that aren't actually scripts. Is sane?

  • I don't like shell-scripting or scripting instead of shell and script, because it is too long, and doesn't clear things up. If I safe a command, it get's a script, but most of the time it is irrelevant, whether I type the command by hand or use a script. And I would never search for automation and didn't see the term often. Apr 7, 2011 at 15:37

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