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Revisiting Should we have tags for separate Linux distributions? one year later.

We currently have 69 questions tagged , 37 of which don't have the tag . And yet I struggle to find one where Ubuntu is fundamental to the question. Pretty much all of them are asking for software to run on Linux, not software that's related to Ubuntu. Software may sometimes be more convenient to install on one Linux distribution or another, but software that runs on Linux runs on any Linux distribution (some versions of some distributions may be too old, but it's the fault of the vintage, not of the distribution), so tagging with a distribution to say “it must run on this distribution” is wrong.

The tag is fragmenting but it isn't used to mean something different. It's hurting us, and I don't see where it's helping.

I propose to merge into and then remove it. Any motivated opposition?

P.S. seems to have a lot of unwarranted fragmentation too but I'll let Windows experts discuss that.

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  • Can we have statistics on how the existence of a specific distribution relates to the amount of views? As was mentioned in the linked discussion: SEO is one of the reasons for the tags. So, while I search for "linux tool ..." other people might search for "ubuntu tool ..." - If the latter group is significantly large it could be useful to have two tags (ubuntu and linux) instead of one (linux). But I have no idea how to verify/falsify that. – Angelo Fuchs Mar 5 '15 at 11:25
  • Also note that of the 37 questions tagged ubuntu but not linux only three have used up their 5 tags. So adding the linux tag should not be a problem. – Angelo Fuchs Mar 5 '15 at 11:26
  • In fact there is software running on Ubuntu but not on some other distributions (like Systemback; though that's rare). And AFAIK their Unity desktop isn't used anywhere else (so things for Unity would be unique to Ubuntu as well). That said, and the corresponding Windows tags already mentioned, I generally agree to a unified linux tag – but could live with an additional ubuntu tag when used properly. – Izzy Mar 5 '15 at 12:18
  • @Izzy Unity only runs on Ubuntu and some derivatives, but questions like Seth's could be tagged unity instead, which would avoid the massive misuse. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 5 '15 at 12:43
  • @Gilles unity wouldn't match Systemback (debian would). I wouldn't introduce another tag we might not need. I'm afraid if we'd killed ubuntu, it would be back soon anyway (unless blacklisted). But as said, I'm rather neutral on this (unless convinced otherwise ;). – Izzy Mar 5 '15 at 13:45
  • @Gilles I've cleaned up the questions that had ubuntu but not linux according to my answer. Lets keep an eye on it to keep it that way. The ones I've left the way they are seem to be genuine to ubuntu or closed. – Angelo Fuchs Mar 17 '15 at 12:38
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    @AngeloFuchs Thank you. I deleted the remaining closed ubuntu not linux questions, and retagged a few more that were not Ubuntu-specific. The remaining two questions are both about Unity. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 17 '15 at 14:32
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TL;DR: Keep , add wherever applicable.

Some Datapoints:

0 questions: , , , , , , , , , ,

So, the only linux-desktop community that has its own tag is ubuntu. That tells us that for ubuntu users it seems obvious that they are using a ubuntu, but not so much that they are using a linux. Most likely its users are searching for tools the same way, so the word "ubuntu" is going to be what guides them here.

On the other hand I think that its fragmenting the community, just as @Gilles said.

So, as only 3 of the 37 questions tagged but not used up all their 5 tags, I suggest we retag the other 34 to contain (if appropriate). We should then take care to keep it that way, that every question tagged that is not specific to ubuntu is also tagged .

For questions that already used up their 5 tags, I suggest we use instead of .

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    Having looked at the data, I can't see any reason to keep the ubuntu tag, whereas it is clear that as long as we keep it around, it will be misused. The fact that people use the ubuntu tag doesn't tell us that “they are using a ubuntu”, it just tells us that they found it in the tag list, whereas SuSE users didn't find suse and so on. If there are people who genuinely don't realize that Ubuntu is a Linux, we can make ubuntu a synonym of linux, but I don't see evidence that even that is warranted. Let's just remove ubuntu. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 17 '15 at 14:41
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    @Gilles If we remove it, it will come back. Ubuntu users (in my personal experience) will answer to the question "what OS are you running" with "Ubuntu" not "Linux" and neither "Ubuntu Linux". They think that Ubuntu is so special that its basically "not a linux". While thats nonsense, I don't think its our responsibility to educate them on this. A synonym would be okay from my point of view. – Angelo Fuchs Mar 18 '15 at 8:39
  • @Gilles also "they found it in the tag list" would have caused them to add "linux" as well, but they didn't. – Angelo Fuchs Mar 18 '15 at 8:39
  • @Gilles I just searched two questions that are on this site via google: google.de/?gws_rd=ssl#q=skype+client+alternative+ubuntu -> has the tag and has first position. google.de/?gws_rd=ssl#q=Youtube+downloader+for+ubuntu Does not have the tag and is not on the first page of google. – Angelo Fuchs Mar 18 '15 at 8:55
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    Your search doesn't prove anything about the tag. google.de/?gws_rd=ssl#q=skype+client+alternative+ubuntu gives me two [au] questions first and the SR question search. Replacing “ubuntu” by “linux” still gives me askubuntu.com/questions/120751/… from ask UBUNTU first and the SR question second. You're seeing the popularity of individual questions, not anything about having the tag helping ranking. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 18 '15 at 10:44
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After some retagging (thanks Angelo Fuchs), we've only identified two questions that are specifically about Ubuntu, as opposed to questions that would be applicable to any (modern, desktop-oriented) Linux installation:

Both of these questions are specific to Ubuntu because they require integration with Unity. In principle, Unity questions could apply to any Linux system, but in practice, only Ubuntu provides a fully working Unity. So these questions can both be said to be specific to Unity, and to be specific to Ubuntu.

The tag is massively misused — a majority of the questions with that tag should have had the tag but didn't, and many of them (I haven't counted) should not be tagged at all because they are equally applicable to any distribution.

Therefore, based on observed data, I propose to:

We can make a synonym of . I don't really see a significant usability advantage there: Ubuntu users around here seem to be aware that they're using Linux, but not always that software isn't dependent on the distribution. But I can't see how the synonym would hurt, and if nothing else it has the advantage that a separate tag won't be created again.

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  • Why remove the ubuntu tag and not just add linux and unity? – aman207 Mar 17 '15 at 14:45
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    @aman207 Because if we keep the ubuntu tag, people will keep tagging their questions with only ubuntu when they should be using linux as well or instead. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 17 '15 at 14:49
  • Ok but if new users to ubuntu are searching for software, not all people are going to use linux in their search (as evident by the amount of questions tagged with ubuntu and not linux). I think at the very least, a synonym should be made. – aman207 Mar 17 '15 at 15:10
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    While I can see arguments for this, there is also the possibility that completely removing these tags will damage the potential for version/distribution-specific answers on a question (eg.for Windows: Windows 8 metro apps that satisfy a question's requirements, but the question is only tagged as windows). Likewise removing the ubuntu tag may prevent the rare ubuntu-specific answer from being posted, because the question could be just as much about Debian, Arch or CentOS from the tags. – Ken Herbert Mar 17 '15 at 21:38
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    @winterblood Uh? Removing the ubuntu tag doesn't prevent Ubuntu-specific answers from being posted. (An Ubuntu-specific answer being an answer with instructions on how to install the software on Ubuntu, but is still applicable to other Linux distributions. There's practically no software that's specific to a Linux distribution — it isn't like e.g. software that only runs on a recent version of Windows.) – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 17 '15 at 22:18
  • I didn't say it prevents such answers. I said it reduces the chance of someone posting such an answer, as they may think it useless to post a specific answer. – Ken Herbert Mar 17 '15 at 22:20
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    @winterblood That does not correspondent with the observation on questions tagged linux but not ubuntu. search – Angelo Fuchs Mar 18 '15 at 8:52
  • @Gilles After spending some more time with the problem I agree with you, ubuntu should not be a tag on its own. I suggested the synonym from ubuntu to linux to keep it from reappearing and because I think that will make it easier for newer users (who obviously like their ubuntu tag) to use the ask-question function. Could you edit your position on the synonym into your answer? – Angelo Fuchs Mar 25 '15 at 10:47
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    @AngeloFuchs added – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 25 '15 at 11:04

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