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As of a week ago, we have a tag. The Q&As in that tag (now two) are intended serve as an instrument for closing as duplicate any questions (usually about basic knowledge) that get asked repeatedly.

It’s a great tool for finding the right question to dupe with, a problem that keeps on happening when dealing with these repetitive questions. We could also use canonical Q&As when there is a bunch of similar questions that are not duplicates of each other but of a hypothetical master question. The canonical Q&A would would then make that question real.

I wonder whether this tag is a good and sufficient way handle this. Are there any better options?

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The tag is somewhat clunky. It’s a meta tag (it’s not about the question's content but about what we think of it) and it’s prone to abuse by askers, possibly resulting in edit wars. I propose to kill the tag again, but not without a proper replacement.

I’d like to propose a system in which we tackle these subjects with a Meta post like this one: A list of examples of the repetitive question, proposed existing Q&As that should be the canonical ones. If no satisfying candidate for the answer exists, we can agree to create one.

These Meta questions should stay up for a while to collect community feedback. If there’s no negative feedback on the proposal, we will implement it.

Anyone looking for a dupe target will only have to search through on Meta and have a handy list. In addition we could create a separate Meta post to collect all canonical Q&As as handy reference.

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    Sounds good, go implement ;) – joojaa Jun 8 '17 at 12:55
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    I'm glad to know my method is liked, at least by some :) – Zach Saucier Jun 8 '17 at 13:05
  • @joojaa Well, feel free to start one of those meta posts with lists and lists of the same scripting question :P :P – Vincent Jun 9 '17 at 8:47
  • @Vincent it has been proven in 1930 that all programs are the same problem and has same solution so do i lump all questions in one post? – joojaa Jun 9 '17 at 8:59
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(Note: I am relatively new to this particular community but experienced in the workings of SE from my contributions on Unix & Linux SE.)


Please, no meta tags. If a tag can't be used as the ONLY tag on a question, it shouldn't exist.

A better answer is a community wiki question-and-answer on meta that can serve as a repository of links to "canonical" questions.

A very good answer is to link to the VERY common canonical questions for a given (specific) tag from the tag wiki.

I don't think we have enough canonical questions on this site for this to be a crucial point yet, but I think the "canonical" tag should be deleted.

In addition to the canonical questions list on Meta, keep in mind you can keep your own list also. There are a few canonical questions on U&L that I link people to all the time as they are so fundamental to shell scripting; finally I put the links in my profile page for easy quick reference. (Actually I also have them in a "snippets" app on my computer for even easier reference, but I digress.)


Relevant similar posts on other sites:

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I would suggest maybe "general-information" as a better tag name.

Not only because anyone will know what "general-information" means.... many may not be familiar with "canonical".

.... and honestly "canonical" sounds pretentious to me. i.e. "There are myriad possibilities." as opposed to "there are a lot of possibilities" - One is just more commonplace and as a result friendlier, even though they both mean relatively the same thing.

There's nothing "sacred" about any of the answers or information... they are just informative... not scripture. Using canonical essentially means GD.SE sees these items as "approved", "authorized", and "sanctioned" - Not so certain a site should be stating that so definitely regarding such a subjective topic as design.

  • I can see many people attempting to use "general-information" and not understanding it very well (very few people actually read tag descriptions, so a good one for it would only help so much) – Zach Saucier Jun 18 '17 at 20:49
  • If someone is seeking a definitive answer regarding a broad topic, I think they are more prone to use "general-information" than "conical". Users tagging a question with "conical" would seem to be not questions at all. If the goal is to hide the tag and try and prevent it's use, then "conical" is better. Overall, I think "conical" is a poor tag name. – Scott Jun 18 '17 at 22:04
  • Maybe we could create a tag "definitive-answer", although that's pretty... definitive? And would probably get misused a lot. – PieBie Jun 20 '17 at 11:58
  • These are all meta tags, though. And incidentally the word isn't "conical" which describes a shape ;), it's "canonical" which is defined thus in the New Oxford American Dictionary: "accepted as being accurate and authoritative: the canonical method of comparative linguistics." – Wildcard Jun 21 '17 at 22:43
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    The incorrect word was merely the result of a typo and auto-correct. I meant "canonical" – Scott Jun 21 '17 at 22:56

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