I see there are a lot of questions tagged mac (749) and even more tagged osx (860) on SuperUser. However, I find the usage of the tags to be quite inconsistent. A lot of people tag their questions mac simply because they're using a Mac, yet completely ignore the osx tag, or they use both of them, just to be on the safe side. That seems completely useless to me; should I tag all my questions pc just because I'm using one?

Should there be a clear distinction made between the 2 tags? I feel that all hardware related questions should be tagged mac and all software related questions tagged osx. There should be less overlap between the 2 tags. I've retagged a few questions lately, removing the mac tag, but I'm not sure if I should be doing this. Any thoughts on this issue?

  • Note that Linux distro's have a likewise problem, though it's less obvious. I tried filtering Linux, only to find out I had to filter Debian, Ubuntu and what not...
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 8:24
  • Whenever you have more than one version or flavor of something you'll have problems when it comes to tagging.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 8:58
  • A mass re-tag will not help much in this case since the individual questions need to be reviewed to manage this. Good news is that I see Jeff has tagged the Tag Blacklist as being planned so it should help resolve this issue with regards to the sets of tags being used.
    – Diago
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 9:47
  • I agree, manually retagging old stuff is almost out of the question. But it would be better if we'd addopt mac-osx instead of osx, as fretje suggested. This might help clarify things for users tagging their question. They would start typing mac and they'd be able to see the mac-osx tag, which is usually the one that they want; most of the questions are probably about the OS, not the hardware.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 10:01
  • +1 damn I was about to ask this. The mac tag should disappear entirely. There are only 75 questions tagged "Dell," so most questions refer to the OS.
    – Yar
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 9:23
  • As long as we don't have some sort of restrictions on tag usage, such as filters, the problem will live on.
    – alex
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 10:30

3 Answers 3


This has actually been discussed before:

Especially in this answer of this question.

I know I've been doing some retagging (after reading above question) from [mac-os-x] and all its variants to 2 different tags [mac] and [os-x] on Superuser.

But I agree that it's still not the best. Maybe we should rename "os-x" to "mac-os-x" and only use the [mac] tag for hardware related questions. But indeed like Ivo mentions: this is a hell of a job!

  • +1 Retagging osx to mac-osx would probably be the best solution, because you would see the mac part in both tags. The question you mentioned is good, but it only partly touches on the subject. It talked about different tag spelling, this is a bit more nuanced, in my opinion; it's more about the actual tag meaning.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 8:56

Completely agree with you, you get the same on Windows where people will tag questions with Windows and Windows-vista/xp/7 or whatnot

A distinction between OSX for software and Mac for hardware would be more clear (just one hell of a job ;-) )

  • 1
    To be honest, I wouldn't want to sift through all the mac and osx tags. There's just too many questions at this moment, and the problem will only increase, unfortunately. However, there has to be a distinction between the tags so the people with tagging abilities can at least know what to do. And I have to agree with you on the windows tags; it's really annoying when you see a question tagged: windows windows-xp windows-vista windows-7. We get it, you have a problem with Windows...
    – alex
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 6:38

I follow a simple process with regards to retagging and editing. If it appears on the front page, it get's retagged and re-edited. If not, leave it. Community bumps questions often enough, and using this process the amount of questions to be retagged becomes less and also fixing errors becomes easier over time. Since they have already been bumped to the home page it also doesn't affect their ranking in anyway.

Eventually the only questions left with incorrect tags are those which have already been answered, and this tends to be a much shorter list.

In this case a mass retag will not make a lot of sense since the questions need to be checked individually.

Rule of Thumb

If you can see it, edit and tag it if required, if not, ignore it until it becomes visible. If it can be mass retagged, list it and the moderators will take care of it.

With regards to these tags

The problem fundamentally is that unless you already know what the SU tags are, new users will never really select the right tag unless there is a mechanism in place to block them. Most people don't know the difference between Mac and OSX, and we can fool ourselves as much as we want with regards to SU members really being SuperUsers, most of them aren't. The same applies to regular posters who don't really care about the validity of the data, they just want an answer to their question, and the tags are a hindrance since they will never search SU for the answer if it is there already.

  • This is a good suggestion, it really makes sense not to artificially bring questions to the front page just by retagging. However, my question was more about the role of those 2 tags. I'm not really going to start retagging old questions and automatic retagging would also be rather difficult.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 10:03
  • Updated my answer with regards to the above tags.
    – Diago
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 10:25
  • @Diago The edit you just made is really depressing. Seeing the number of duplicates, the resistance to make anything CW, the quality of some of the questions and answers I tend to agree that people will just not care about properly tagging anything. Some either just want an answer (and after they get it they never come back to the site, not even to mark an answer as accepted) or they want the rep points.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 10:33
  • @Alex It is the risk that was known all along due to the nature of the crowd drawn by SU compared to SO/SF which is drawing professionals. Over time this will start to get better as more and more people join that are interest and SU becomes more popular.
    – Diago
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 10:57
  • @Diago I somehow doubt that. There are a few users that are really good (I'm not only talking about users with high rep, there are some with lower rep, but with really good answers). These do most of the heavy lifting. But aside from them, things kind of go downhill... I really like the site and the community that's been built, and I do my best to make it better, but I can't stop feeling disappointed at times.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 11:29

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