What is the purpose of ? I'm not suggesting we do away with it -- it has 80+ followers and over 2,000 questions -- but I'm genuinely unsure of when it should be used.

I see it (and ) used sometimes to specify which version of an OS is being used, sometimes with respect to a processor, and sometimes when the distinction is causing an issue with installing or using a piece of software. I can tell in a lot of cases that the tag is irrelevant to the question.

So, when exactly should be used?

I'd like to get some community consensus and then edit the tag wiki excerpt to include some sorely needed usage guidance.

Then, cleanup?

Related tags that already exist:

x 43
x 101

  • 26
    Those tags are so that the 32-bit experts don't answer 64-bit questions and vice versa. The 32-bit experts don't have enough bits to answer 64-bit questions correctly, and the 64-bit experts have too many bits to answer 32-bit questions (their answers get doubled, which is undesired redundancy). – fixer1234 Jan 27 '16 at 17:59
  • 2
    nuke the tags from orbit. – Ramhound Jan 27 '16 at 20:25
  • 5
    I think that these tags made sense in the past when we 64 bits OS's where relative new. E.g. tagging something [XP] and [64 bits] would often lead to different answers then just [xp] (though a [XP-64b] tag would solve that). But these last 10 years no sane person has installed a 32 bit OS anymore. So I guess one of the tags can go. – Hennes Jan 27 '16 at 20:26
  • 1
    @Hennes from memory there have been a few questions recently where people have bought or built a low-end machine that has only 2GB of RAM where 64-bit would be a (debatable) penalty in performance. The tag is still relevant, even if it is slowly becoming less so. – Mokubai Jan 27 '16 at 21:37
  • That penalty is real on most 64 bit systems, but almost not present in amd64 /x64 hardware because those CPUs gain additional registers when operating in 64bit mode. It is an issue on hosts equipped with 512MiB or less though, but any modern computer ships with much more than that. – Hennes Jan 28 '16 at 8:08
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    Example of a legitimate use of 64-bit: superuser.com/questions/442246/… – Der Hochstapler Jan 29 '16 at 15:01
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    @OliverSalzburg: Except that really should have a windows-x64 tag or even just amd64 or x86_64 rather than 64-bit. Right now, a query for windows+64-bit (the combination on that question) doesn't mean what people expect it to... it could give you questions about Itanium or running Windows 10 on a 64-bit ARM processor. – Ben Voigt Jan 29 '16 at 16:36
  • I also agree. The only time someone would need the tags is either A) They know they need it and would include it in the question text or B) they have no idea and wouldn't use it anyway. – Raystafarian Jan 31 '16 at 10:11
  • I'd use [x86_64] with [amd64] as a synonym. – CodesInChaos Feb 5 '16 at 14:59


"64-bit" can only act as a modifier on other platform information, but there are better platform naming conventions that already include the modifier. Examples of 64-bit platforms: "x86_64" (aka AMD64 aka EM64T), "ARM 64", "Alpha", "Itanium"

It's very rare for a question to apply to more than one of these -- the "64-bit" category which encompasses all of them is useless.

  • 2
    Agreed. These are meta-tags. Nuke them from orbit. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Jan 29 '16 at 19:02
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    You could launch those nukes from a stream of photons. Happy to help. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 3 '16 at 11:31
  • I think you've missed the point because I can ask the same question about these other tags you've proposed. When should [x86_64] be used? – Excellll Feb 5 '16 at 15:11
  • @Excellll: You could ask the same question, doesn't mean you'll get the same answer. You would use those tags when asking questions about the capabilities and limitations of computer systems using those processor architectures. Virtualization and emulation questions in particular are tightly coupled to processor architecture. And it is completely possible for someone to be expert in a particular architecture, unlike a bitness. – Ben Voigt Feb 5 '16 at 15:31
  • @Excellll: Basically, all the uses you mentioned in the question are indeed good ways to use an architecture tag -- but "64-bit" is a loose group of entirely unrelated architectures. – Ben Voigt Feb 5 '16 at 15:35
  • I didn't want the same answer -- that's why I asked! Thanks for clarifying when you think these should be used. – Excellll Feb 5 '16 at 15:38

Let's get this out the way: it's inappropriate to use just to indicate that you're on a 64-bit platform. By that token, almost every question on this site should have either the 32-bit or 64-bit tag. When used this way, the tag is just noise. I think many of the questions currently tagged [64-bit] fall in this category. These should be cleaned up.

This leaves two possible uses for the tag: either the question is about the bitness of the platform/OS/process/whatever, or it is about a problem that is directly related to the 32/64-bit distinction.

In either case, having and as individual tags makes little sense. Questions of this sort are actually about the difference between the two architectures -- whether it's investigating the difference itself or looking for a way around a problem caused by the difference.

I propose we adopt instead.

gets right to the heart of what these questions should be about. It also doesn't carry the ambiguity of the other tags. (No one is going to apply the [bitness] tag to indicate which platform they're on.) Additionally, there are certainly experts who understand bitness and related issues. I believe this is the clearest, most useful alternative to the current tagging convention.

  • "there are certainly experts who understand bitness and related issues" Nope, there aren't. There are experts who understand the issues related to the difference between particular pairs of architecture that have different bitness, but that doesn't equip them to address another pair of architectures, equally related, and having the exact same two bitnesses. – Ben Voigt Feb 5 '16 at 16:30
  • @BenVoigt Why is knowing about every architecture a requirement for following the tag? If you know a little bit and can answer SOME questions about the topic, then for the purpose of this site and discussion, you're an expert. – Excellll Feb 5 '16 at 16:56
  • It's not a requirement for "following the tag". We're not discussing following, we're discussing the checklist for what makes a tag good. And I tell you "bitness" is not what anyone is expert in, they are expert in particular architectures. Also you're right that "bitness" isn't as ambiguous as the other tags... it's much much more ambiguous. – Ben Voigt Feb 5 '16 at 17:33
  • @BenVoigt How would you tag this question? superuser.com/questions/442246/… – Excellll Feb 5 '16 at 18:20
  • Was there something unclear about my earlier comment? – Ben Voigt Feb 5 '16 at 18:56
  • @Excellll: In the 2nd comment on this post, you write, "If you know a little bit...". Does that refer to recognizing the difference between 32 and 64 bits or is this some other aspect of bitness? As in, I know a little bit when I see one. I actually kind of like your suggestion, as it gets directly, and exclusively, to the subject. I wonder, though, whether it would ever get used, unless we direct people to it in the deprecated 32-bit and 64-bit wiki excerpts, and people read the excerpts. It isn't a term that typically pops to mind at tagging time. – fixer1234 Feb 5 '16 at 19:51
  • @fixer1234 If [bitness] is likely to be overlooked, maybe [64-bit] and [32-bit] could be made synonyms of it. This would direct users to the tag while tagging their question. – Excellll Feb 5 '16 at 20:02

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