Should we delete the C tag? Coding questions are off-topic here, so the C tag is a "broken window" that might be misleading posters into thinking it's OK to post a coding question or post their C source code.

Looking through the questions tagged C, most of them are bad questions that aren't not appropriate here. The majority are closed. I count only three questions with the tag that are not problematic:

All of these would be fine without the tag; they have other tags that are fine. Also, the third question doesn't have anything to do with C, so a C tag is useless here (the only relationship is that the poster included some C source code; however, our policy says people aren't supposed to do that -- they're supposed to use pseudocode -- so losing the C tag from the third question will be no loss).

The potential benefit is that maybe it eliminates one signpost that might be misleading posters. I have no idea whether it will actually help or not, but it's something we could try.

Earlier, I tried writing a tag wiki excerpt stating very clearly that programming questions are off-topic here, but it doesn't seem to have solved the problem, hence my question about deletion.

So, should we delete the C tag? (i.e., remove it from every question currently tagged , and let the tag be auto-deleted) Should we blacklist it?

  • $\begingroup$ I seem to remember discussion this, and Gilles (?) answer was: keep the tag(s) to avoid confusion a) for the odd question for which the tag is appropriate, and b) for new posters (which may otherwise use any tag). Also, c or java are kind of useful "Dear Mod, please look at me" triggers. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Nov 9, 2015 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ I also once raised the same question in the chat. I think we could live without them, but I don't have a strong opinion either way at the moment. It would be helpful to see arguments for having them. $\endgroup$
    – Juho
    Nov 9, 2015 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ its strange how few high rep users & even mods on SE seem to be familiar with the idea of a folksonomy which is highly relevant. the basic idea is that tags are community-discovered/ user-generated content and dont really directly/ definitively determine the applicability of questions, and regulations on their use are not a great or even effective way to steer content, that all would be the tail wagging the dog so to speak. also some flexibility in tag use/ discovery is inherent to all folksonomies and too much rigidity decreases their utility. $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Mar 31, 2016 at 0:57

1 Answer 1


Once again, no. This suggestion has all the hallmarks of “we must do something, this is something, so let's do it”.

If there was no tag then askers would use some other tag, such as , or , or (because the homework exercise is hard, i.e. complex — don't laugh, I've seen it often). Hell, even though we have a tag, C questions don't always use it! It's hard to evaluate because the amount of programming questions we get in a given programming language is heavily dependent on the popularity of the language among askers (mainly CS/programming students), but I don't get the impression that we get, say, more Java () questions than C# (no tag) questions, in proportion with the potential demand. (C# is about as popular as Java on SO, but it's less popular in programming courses, and even more so in CS courses.)

In my experience on Stack Exchange, the argument “there's a tag so this must be on-topic” doesn't come up very often, and when it comes up it's often a post-hoc justification which is obviously invalid if you spend thirty seconds reading the site's scope (e.g. justifying a Windows question on Unix & Linux because “there's a [windows] tag” — I wonder how often Home Improvement gets questions about the Windows operating system in their [windows] tag). Tags are the last thing an akser types, after the title and the body of the question; how many people do you think abandon their question when they don't see an appropriate tag, as opposed to semi-randomly picking a tag just to get the question through? We get a lot of programming homework questions

  1. because the askers are in a computer science curriculum;
  2. because askers come here after getting banned from Stack Overflow for asking too many low-quality questions.

The programming language tags serve a purpose: they characterize questions about that language. The semantics of programming languages is a domain of computer science, it is on-topic here. These tags serve a need. Even if they caused some harm, which I dispute, that would not remove our need for them. If people asking off-topic because of the presence of the tag was a widespread phenomenon, we could try renaming to or some such, but I think that the phenomenon is so negligible that it isn't worth sacrificing clear tag names.

  • $\begingroup$ I disagree that CS semantics questions should be tied to specific languages (usually) but that's not strong enough to disagree with your answer in total. For the record, I don't like that we have these tags but I agree that there is no need for action. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Nov 12, 2015 at 8:27

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