I think we have three sets of tags on SR:

(Please note that I don’t have good headlines for describing these groups as I’m not a native speaker; I hope the example tags make it clear, and please suggest better terms for describing them.)

  1. Tags describing which attributes the software MUST have.
    For example: , , , , , .
    Similar to formal metadata.
    It’s very easy to decide if the software matches (you shouldn’t even have to read the question to understand the intended meaning for these tags).

  2. Tags describing the category of software.
    For example: , , , , , .
    Similar to informal metadata.
    These tags are probably the primary way for experts to find questions that could need their expertise. But it might happen that answers recommend software of a different/related category: it’s about what OP’s need, and not necessarily what OP’s think they would need.

  3. Tags that describe single features of the software.
    For example: , , , , .
    These lie somewhere between formal and informal metadata.
    It may not always be easy to understand the intended meaning by just looking at the tag (e.g., "Should the software work with or only export Markdown?").

I think when the site grows, sets 2 and 3 will grow (broader as well as deeper), too. But set 1 should stay relatively stable.

I think it could be useful to outline set 1 and see if we can come up with some kind of "guide", i.e, rules when and how to use them. (We shouldn’t even try to do this for set 2/3.)

Related: I tried to describe set 1 in my question "Feature tags" only for required or also for optional features? (note that I used "feature" there for something different than in this question) and asked if we should only use tags from set 1 for MUSTs instead of SHOULDs and MAYs (I think, yes.).

1 Answer 1


[DRAFT] Tag guide (for set 1)


  • If the software MUST be FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software), use (under discussion).

  • If the software MUST be gratis in addition to being FLOSS, don’t add the corresponding tag for "Costs" in addition. You should only use it if you know that there are FLOSS solutions that cost money.

  • If you don’t care (or if you only prefer that the software is FLOSS), don’t use the tag.


  • If the software MUST be available at no charge, use / (under discussion).

  • If you don’t care (or if you only prefer that the software is available free of charge), don’t use the tag.

Operating system / platform

For example: , , , , , …

  • Only use operating system tags if the software MUST run on ALL of the tagged OS.

  • If the software MUST be available cross-platform, but you don’t require which specific operating systems exactly, use (any additional operating system tag means that the software MUST run at least on this OS) (if you specify all OS’s it MUST run on, you should omit the tag) (under discussion)

  • If you don’t care (or if you only prefer) on which operating system the software runs, don’t use a tag.

  • If the software MUST run at least on one of several particular operating systems (but you don’t care on which of them), don’t use a tag.

If you are looking for plugins/add-ons/extensions to some specific software, use the tag for this software instead.

For example: , , , …

Only use OS tags in addition to the extension tag if there is reason to believe that the extensions depend on the operating system in usen.

(What to call these?)

  • If the software MUST run as a desktop client, use .

  • If the software MUST run as a Web application, use .

  • If you don’t care (or only prefer), don’t use a tag.

  • For "cost": What about combinations of "free" and "open-source" (FOSS)? Feels strange to me tagging both ends. Though, even if OSS, there might be no free compiled version available? Rare case. Just feels strange to me. // if you specify all OS’s you have no room for other tags (limit=5) // desktop, web – and what about "daemons" and "services", command-line stuff? Do we have special tags for those? I e.g. note we have an email-client, but no corresponding server tag :)
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 0:55
  • @Izzy: Regarding cost: I think there is only one (rare) case where both tags would be needed: see the section "FLOSS may cost money". I’ll add this to the answer. -- Regarding OS: Yes, I don’t want to enforce users to tag the OS in all cases; but I think it’s important that IF there are OS tags, these mean that the software needs (at least) to run on all these OS. -- Regarding daemons etc.: Good question! I think a separate discussion would be best for these?
    – unor
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 2:27
  • 1
    Ah, there it was (FOSS<->money). Exactly that I had in mind. // OS: Yes, understood, all OS would be a rare case, though. Just wanted to point out you cannot use more than 5 tags on a question. // damons/server-components/services: I already raised that on email-client tag discussion. Maybe instead of adding -client and -server to multiple masters (like mail-client), we should use separate server and client tags. That then would belong into your Qs last section.
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 9:03
  • PS: We do have a server tag, but no client tag.
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 9:04

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