This is a bit related to this topic on MSO.

In a recently suggested and approved edit a tag was added to the topic, but it only became applicable through the answer. The user didn't know the tag was relevant, but it turned out the tagged software was the cause of his troubles.

In this case, it was probably an easy decision. It was a troubleshooting question and the tag identifies the culprit. But what about "How do I do X" questions, and tags for the suggested technology solving the problem? In both cases, the tags only apply because of the answer(s) given.

In general, does it make sense to add them, and, if yes, what to add and under which circumstances?

As an example, it might make sense to retag questions that are answered by using Automator with . We have very few questions about Automator as a tool, but tons of questions about a problem that is solved using it. In many cases, it's the only (reasonable) solution.

2 Answers 2


It does make sense to do that. It allows for better search, helps giving more weight to the answers (even in a Google search) and categorizes questions using the tag system we already have.

Therefore, if you answer a question and the question is missing a tag that might later help to find it again, then add this tag.

Make sure to also fix other stuff as you edit, such as looking for spelling errors or other things like "Thanks". Maybe also improve the title, if possible. I believe that answering a question also makes you responsible for the question itself.

Actually, it would even make more sense to be able to additionally tag answers. But that's another story …


It makes perfect sence to add a tag to a question that the tag item was the problem.

It does not make so much sence to add a tag to the question that the tag item is the solution. Unless the solution was the method requested in the question.


While the solution today might be obvious and done only one way today, If tomorrow a much better solution exists. The solution does not require the method, or some rediculous and extensive method to solution the problem, then the tag itself , the method of the question, will reduce the usefullness of a solution that no longer requires the difficult method.

If someone already (magicly) knew of an answer that did not require a specific method , or provides any Different method. For the times when the first method just doesn't work for everyone the same way. The question is now tagged for a method, and that would be very limiting to answers , and general learning new methods.

A Fake Example: User asks how to rearrange some element of the os, and the solution is to script, or hack a Dll, the tags script and hack are added to the question, as if the questioner wanted to hack and script. Tomorrow the element of the os is added to the adjustment ability, or a good program adds that element without scripting and hacking. Now the answer looks pretty stupid , and the question has limitations created by the tag.

Of course you know what is and what isn't, and what will never be, I am just discussing the premise of adding answers in the form of tags generally.

If the intent is to re-draw the questions target, after shooting out an answer that misses the target of the question completly. Then go write a How-To or a blog instead and point people to it :-) That does still make a good and complete and full answer IMO.

Answers that don't use a method that the Questioner wants to, or feels capable of appling, are still GREAT answers, and still valuable and usefull information to everyone. but Questions should not be Re-Molded and Edited , and re-Tagged to get a Question to meet the answers. Not only is this conforming a question to an answer, How does the next person asking the question similarly WRONGLY (even) find the valuable answers, when the poor way the question is asked no longer exists in search?

If the "stupid" question, gets a Good answer that changes the question or the questioners mind about what they even asked to begin with, that is great, but at no time should the question then be limited to the Method by a re-write.

  • > and the question has limitations created by the tag. — Having an additional tag is never a limitation, I'd say. You're right though about not changing the intent of the question too much.
    – slhck
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 14:52
  • > How does the next person asking the question similarly WRONGLY (even) find the valuable answers, when the poor way the question is asked no longer exists in search? — I don't understand that. Adding a tag does not make a question disappear entirely. In fact, it will still be visible just as before.
    – slhck
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 14:53
  • My diatribe went beyond the changing of the tag, you dont expect ME to stay on topic do you :-) Just discussing.
    – Psycogeek
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 15:25
  • @slhck On tagging changing the answers, if the tag says {CMD BATCH} who is going to come in and answer with a {GUI} answer??
    – Psycogeek
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 15:29
  • Another example, if loading in a Linux boot disk solves a problem with windows, then do you RE-tag a Windows question with Linux? no, because mabey someday , someone will figure out windows :-) If the original questioner tagged it Linux, then they expected to use linux to repair windows, so that was thier direction of the question.
    – Psycogeek
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 15:42
  • I think you're taking the hypothetical too far :) Example: [osx][shell-script] could become [osx][shell-script][automator]. Never should you take away a tag unless it's completely unnecessary. And you're right about not changing the original intent of the question. Tagging a Windows question with [linux] obviously does not make sense at all and is confusing at best.
    – slhck
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 15:47
  • it makes perfect sence :-) I just wish the person using windows in a virtual machine inside of OS-X had doubble tagged their question, or at least told us that it was Virtual in a Mac .
    – Psycogeek
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 15:52
  • We already have questions like this. Typically in the form of "How do I do this using sed?". In these cases, they think they know how the answer to their question looks like. In many cases, it doesn't. Adding tags for accepted answers will not take away, but add to the question.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 16:08
  • In many questions, users simply ask for the wrong thing. See What is the X Y problem. Changing questions to fit the answers adds value for others in many cases, as it stops questions from being misleading, and shows how answers solve the actual (otherwise unstated) problem.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 16:13
  • @DB ^ up one comment I am disagreeing, of the questions you posted, MANY of them are directally asking to script and ALL of them love the automator now that you showed them how. but not ALL of the questions asked for scripting or automator. you know which is which, and I am all for changing the ones that asked begged for that method, i am all against setting the question as Automator because that was ONE of the answers.
    – Psycogeek
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 16:17

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