I just created the nc tag wiki. In the guidance section, I only talk about nc, but in the description part I breezily list ncat, netcat, and socat as similar programs.

My question is whether I should explicitly recommend using this tag for questions about all four programs, or should each program get a separate tag?

Being non-POSIX, we have four different programs that all provide the same core set of functionality, but which have different command line interfaces and different sets of unique peripheral features.

Currently, the nc tag is only used on 8 questions, three of which actually seem to be about netcat.

There is no ncat tag, perhaps reflecting its relative youth.

There is a socat tag, used on 27 questions, but without any guidance or description.

So, merge or split?

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    I don't have much experience with these tools. Is the syntax of the other three close enough to nc to merit sharing a tag? Can you be an expert in nc but have no idea how netcat works? If they can be merged, I would be inclined to make netcat the master tag as that is the best known one (or so I think, correct me if I'm wrong). – terdon Jun 17 '16 at 9:52
  • Are nc and netcat even different programs? I thought that "nc" was the name of the "netcat" program, in the sense that "rm" is the name of the "remove" program and "vi" is the name of the "visual editor" program. – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Jun 20 '16 at 4:25
  • @G-Man: There are a whole bunch of netcat variants. Some are called nc, some netcat, and some install a link from one name to the other. – Warren Young Jun 20 '16 at 4:28
  • I’m not sure how that responds to my question. Based on my understanding of what Wikipedia says, if we’re going to consider the possibility of having separate tags for “nc” and “netcat”, then we should also have tags for “gnu-netcat”, “openbsd-netcat”, “freebsd-netcat”, “cygwin-netcat”, “macports-netcat”, “busybox-netcat”, “windows-netcat” and “wince-netcat” (or “netcat-gnu”, “netcat-openbsd”, etc.) and “cryptcat”, “pnetcat”, “sock”, “socket-(program)”, and “sbd” — … (Cont’d) – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Jun 20 '16 at 21:33
  • (Cont’d) …  because “netcat” isn’t a program, per se; it’s a family of programs. My point is that it doesn’t make sense to say that “nc” and “netcat” are two different programs — either they’re the same program, or they’re a dozen different programs, but not two. I believe that “nc” should be an alias for “netcat”.  … (Cont’d) – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Jun 20 '16 at 21:33
  • (Cont’d) …  To get to the point, we need somebody who knows these programs well to provide some guidance on how different they are. Note, for reference, that we have separate tags for “awk”, “gawk”, and “mawk”. Usage of the plain “awk” tag outnumbers the others by a ratio of over 35:1, even though many of the answers to “awk” questions depend on GNU features. There’s a similar situation with “grep”. And another note: ISTR that Super User briefly had an “ncat” tag, and it went away. – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Jun 20 '16 at 21:33
  • @G-Man: Are you definitively saying that a command line format defines the scope of a tag? Two different command line schema equals two different tags? If so, that answers the question. – Warren Young Jun 20 '16 at 21:35
  • (1) I’m not saying anything definitively. I’m just an ordinary user here; I’m just offering my opinions.  (2) I’m not sure what you mean about “command line schema”, but I tend to agree with @terdon: if it’s possible to be an expert in nc but have no idea how ncat works, they should probably be different tags — although I guess frequency/demand is also a factor. If a tag has only eight questions, and it’s covered by another tag, then maybe it shouldn’t exist. – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Jun 20 '16 at 22:32

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