Here is an edit suggestion which adds a tag to a question: https://unix.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/177179

This question does not mention sed anywhere and originally only had the tag and mentioned OP's attempt in awk. The only thing related to sed is the answer with the most votes.

So is this OK? According to Shall tags refer to the solution, too? it would be. But in this case it might also be better to remove both the and tags since OP might very likely not mind, making the question not specific to either? And maybe adding the instead?

It's also worth noting that there is the following canned edit dismissal text:

This edit introduces tags that do not help to define the topic of the question. Tags should help to describe what the question is about, not just what it contains.

(Highlight by me)

2 Answers 2


Tags help display questions to the right people. They don't mainly function to describe a question.

Tags are mainly additive, not subtractive. People follow tags to hear about new questions in those tags. Its possible to ignore tags as well, but that's only ;-). So for the most part, adding a tag adds audience; removing a tag removes audience.

The same is true when searching for a question or answer, and that's probably the main use after the question is thoroughly answered. I know I saw a good sed answer to X, so I search for [sed] X. Removing the means it'll be harder to find.

I added , though.

  • You said that tags are mainly additive, the exception would be shells, right? So if I'm looking for bash questions then I'm not looking for questions which could be possible also solved inside bash but instead those specifically solved in bash? (I see those tags removed all the time, e.g.: unix.stackexchange.com/posts/337596/…)
    – phk
    Jan 17, 2017 at 20:13
  • @phk yes, the way we use some tags on the site is weird compared to how they work—my answer is mainly about how the SE software works.
    – derobert
    Jan 17, 2017 at 22:40
  • 2
    I'll admit it: It was the kali-linux comment which actually motivated me to click the up arrow. ;) Good answer, but that was the motive piece.
    – Wildcard
    Jan 23, 2017 at 12:52
  • Actually, the search engines will find sed just fine since they index the answers along with the question. Take this question as example. Searching for the title plus "fold" as explicit keyword returns it as result.
    – Braiam
    Jan 25, 2017 at 5:01
  • The funny thing is that the last revision was done to remove the sed tag again with the reasoning removed irrelevant tag, the question ask for "why the solution doesn't achieve the expected results".
    – fedorqui
    Jan 27, 2017 at 15:15
  • 1
    @fedorqui rolled it back
    – derobert
    Jan 27, 2017 at 15:32

When I tag, I do it in the context of the question, which is exactly what the help center tells us:

A tag is a word or phrase that describes the topic of the question. Tags are a means of connecting experts with questions they will be able to answer by sorting questions into specific, well-defined categories.

The user used awk as an attempt to accomplish the task, but it could also been perl, or sed, or tr, or grep, or any other string manipulating utility. That was why the text processing tag was created, because unless you are asking about "why your solution doesn't work?", any of the most focused and defined tags would reduce the universe of potential answers. That is why tags should focus on the question, not on the potential answers.

You could use sed and text processing to mean that you want to process text with sed, because reasons. If you add awk to that question, when the question doesn't ask for that (ie. why sed doesn't match /this patter/?), in an attempt to draw awk answers, people that search for that issue will be presented with a disparated solution that doesn't have resemblance with the inquiry they had.

On most occasions when the question seems to be less about using a tool in specific, and rather just accomplish the task, I tend to remove the irrelevant tags from the question, as they should be, since those tag counts towards their score, it would be quite baffling if you were awarded with a tag badge on a topic you don't know iota about.

  • I don't understand how tag badges work, but it seems unlikely that adding a tag to a question would be enough to grant one to someone who otherwise wouldn't earn it. If they have enough credits elsewhere, they likely have one or two iotas to their credit already. According to this SO blog, answers have more intrinsic value than questions, so adding tags to reflect the best answer(s) to a question seems proper. Especially if it increases the probability of the Q being found by by searchers in the future.
    – Chindraba
    Jan 29, 2017 at 4:23
  • @GypsySpellweaver "I don't understand how tag badges work" read the help center: Tags are a means of connecting experts with questions they will be able to answer by sorting questions into specific, well-defined categories. Tagging based on answers isn't what they are for. A tag has to reflect the topic of the question you are asking, not the potential, not even, better answers, so that experts on the defined topic can find those questions.
    – Braiam
    Jan 29, 2017 at 12:05

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