Triggered by the recent (attempted) introduction of two tags for ArchLinux derivatives (EndeavourOS and BlackArch), I wonder whether there is an established policy and/or thresholds for creating tags on distribution derivatives.

In particular

  • What is the criterion to create a distinct tag for a derived distribution?
  • What is the threshold on that criterion that makes creation of a new tag necessary?

I assume that it would be a combination of the derivative's distinctiveness, user base, and number of questions that (ultimately) turn out to be specific to the derivative rather than the base distribution, but is there any reference as to when a new tag is mandated?

  • 5
    You can also ask if there is any point in distro-tags in the first place...
    – terdon Mod
    Apr 5 at 12:42
  • @terdon Hehehe, I guess you are right ;)
    – AdminBee
    Apr 5 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


It's long been my personal opinion that we shouldn't be creating tags just for the sake of the tag itself. Tags should be created when there are people who are both willing and wish to watch them. If there's nobody watching a tag, it serves very little purpose. To me, tags are usually used for two things:

  • keeping an eye on, or conversely, filtering out something
  • narrowing search results to be about some topic

When it comes to searching, tags are only necessary when you're searching about things which share a name with some very common word, like at, for example , or commands like ls which appear in practically everything. In those cases, yes, a tag for the thing helps filter out posts which are not about the thing but nonetheless mention it. Otherwise just using the name of the thing directly usually works fine. (I'd guess that more often than not, people skip the site search and just use Google with site:unix.stackexchange.com, so tags don't matter except to clutter up post titles.)

For distro names, especially unusual ones like Endeavour OS or Cachy OS, the tags don't do squat for searching. And if they don't help searching, then the only remaining use is for watching or ignoring.

But: if no one's watching the tag, then no one's really invested in ensuring the tag is correctly used, so the ones ignoring it can't rely on it either. And then it isn't useful for searching too. So: If no one's watching the tag, then the tag serves little to no purpose. This is exemplified by this question - I'd bet that the reason you were noticing these mis-tagged questions is because you were watching that tag.

Then what does the tag exist for? Just to able to say some thing has a tag on Stack Exchange? Who cares about that?

If you feel a given distro tag doesn't belong in some post, feel free to remove it. But that doesn't mean it has to be replaced with another distro tag. Just removing it is fine. This will only be a problem if the only tag was the distro tag, but that shouldn't be the case anyway. Other relevant tags which define the nature of the question should be used, like, say, for networking problems, for graphics problems, and so on.

  • 1
    As to why people create tags with no purpose, is the same thing as digg back in the day. They want to hit as many keywords as possible without understanding why keywords are important.
    – Braiam
    Apr 7 at 13:35

As the person who requested those tags to be made, let me shed some light as to why I requested them to be made.

I saw people using the arch tag as an umbrella for anything arch based . While that is "right", I felt that it needed its own tag because even though it's based on Arch, I feel it's different enough that it needed its own tag. Let's take Devuan and Debian for an example. They are both Debian-based but one has no systemd other than minor packages installed or removed, it's different enough that it has its own tag. Remenber when EndeavourOS broke grub and Arch had to release an announcement that says to update grub because of that problem? Also EndeavourOS has yay (an aur helper) installed by default, Arch says that AUR helpers are not supported by Arch Linux. Meaning that if someone asks why does foo not work and it's an aur package, the reason it does not work is explained by the comments in the aur that you need to do foo in order for it to work.

As for Black Arch, that is an Arch Linux-based penetration testing distribution that too is different enough to have its own tag. If someone has a Kali problem but puts it in the Debian tag is it right? No because even though it's based on Debian it has enough differences that it's not "vanilla" Debian.

My reasoning for those tags wasn't to add tags for the sake of adding tags, it was to make distinctions between different Arch-based distros. If you think that the umbrella Arch tag is good enough, then by all means keep using it. I was just thinking to make it clear what is based on what.

  • 2
    If having the arch tag on them is a problem, do remove the arch tag by all means. But why do we need a different tag in place of the arch one?
    – muru
    Apr 9 at 13:04
  • 1
    As for the specialized distributions, I've told the ones I run into: "The X distribution should be used for Y purposes. It should not be used for general everyday use." You have made a very good point, but who decides how granular we're going to get?
    – eyoung100
    Apr 9 at 13:52
  • @eyoung100 I feel that if there is more then X questions then a tag should be made, there are not to many os's that are based on a existing os, much less ones people will ask a question for, to add on we have tags for the *buntu derivations, one could argue that since those are official ubuntu versions, they get a tag, but since EndeavourOS is a "easy" arch install with multiple questions being asked I think it's only fair that it's gets a tag, now if it only had one question then it wouldn't make sense to make the tag Apr 9 at 16:57
  • 1
    @killertofus other than being fair or some other such personal feeling, what objective utility does the tag serve?
    – muru
    Apr 10 at 0:38
  • EndeavourOS uses the Arch repos, and adds their own repo with some of EndeavourOS programs. Meaning that if you ask a question pertaining to EndeavourOS and use the arch tag then that would be "wrong" because arch by default does not have those programs/installed and I would be wondering what does this have to do with arch. If you say "I just installed "arch" what are these app preinstalled" I would say that arch doesn't have those apps preinstalled and you are using an arch based distro, meaning you should change the title/tags/body to indicate you are using a arch based distro Apr 10 at 3:42
  • 1
    Yes, that's all fine - as I said, go ahead and remove the Arch tag and mentions of Arch - nobody's objecting to that. My question is specifically about the new tags.
    – muru
    Apr 10 at 17:07
  • @muru I was wondering if it would be a good idea to have tag-request where you can request tags to be added and if it gets enough community votes like what meta stackoverflow does with burninate-request then it becomes an official tag if there is votes to not make it an official tag then it will be blacklisted from becoming a tag Apr 10 at 17:43
  • @killertofus That sounds as if you could turn it into a feature-request question here on U&L Meta ;)
    – AdminBee
    Apr 11 at 7:50
  • 2
    Remember that ideally, a distro-specific tag should only be used if the question is about how that distribution works. If you just happen to be using Arch but the question isn't about Arch itself, the tag shouldn't be used. In the vast majority of cases, an EndeavourOS question likely won't need any distro tag at all.
    – terdon Mod
    Apr 14 at 15:59

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