What are tag warnings?

Tag warnings are meant to provide users with just-in-time information to help them avoid mistakes that are common for the tag they’re using.

Here’s what they look like:

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To see a tag warning in action, begin asking a question on Stack Overflow and tag it with . (More information on tag warnings can be obtained here, from which the above text and image were taken.)

This question

New users are often unaware of our requirements for questions asking for translations, meanings, differences and similar and thus ask questions that are not well received or could have received much better answers. By educating these users beforehand, we increase the chances that they ask good questions, get useful answers, and feel welcome.

So, I am asking: For which tags do we want tag warnings?

  • Each answer should contain one tag and a suggestion for the warning. If the same or a very similar tag warning makes sense for more than one tag, they can be featured in one answer.

  • I think a main target should be the problems covered by our custom close reasons, in particular recommending askers to say how general references did not help them.

  • This data-explorer query lists the tags that are likely to be used for questions that are closed. (As this excludes deleted questions, so the absolute numbers are comparably low.)

  • When suggesting a tag warning, try not to overwhelm the asker with instructions. You can link appropriate FAQs though (yes, links work in tag warnings).

  • Should the warnings be in English, German, or both?
    – raznagul
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 14:44
  • 2
    @raznagul: As the rest of the interface is in English for now and these warnings mostly apply to users that are not native speakers of German, I would stick to English.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 14:58
  • I realize that many answers share some common reasons. What about if we include general statements like "why did the dictionary not help", "give an example / a context", "one specific issue rather than a whole bunch"?
    – Em1
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:15
  • @Em1: I fail to understand you. Where would you include those statements and how do the existing answers not address this?
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:21
  • @Wrzlprmft Oups, my initial sentence is already misleading since I used a word which doesn't make sense in that context. Replace "reasons" with "hints" and it makes sense. — The answers below address different tags but contain partly overlapping hints. I feel like the ones I mentioned are true for almost all tags, so they shouldn't be part of specific tag warnings but could be added to any tag warning.
    – Em1
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:37
  • @Em1: Well, we cannot add warnings to all tags and I would not consider it a good idea either.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:45
  • @Wrzlprmft With "all" I didn't mean really any tag, but those we're attaching tag warnings to anyway. But if it's not supported, we can't do it. Bummer.
    – Em1
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 10:02
  • A good while ago, I passed this on to a group that's looking at improving the structure of the "Ask Question" page. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like they're going to be making any changes in the immediate future, so I came back to this again today. The top two answers worth of tags are now warning-ified. I'm curious whether you have any plans on how to measure the impact of the change (a shift in close voting rates, perhaps?).
    – Pops
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 4:43
  • @Pops: I will take a look at the closure stats, in particular with respect to those close reasons that are particularly affected by the new warnings. However, these are subject to strong fluctuations anyway, so we may not see anything there. Another indicator might be questions that explicitly heed the warnings (in particular by elaborating why a dictionary did not help). These are very rare now, so an increase of such questions would be noticeable.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 9:30
  • Yeah, I glanced at your site's close stats before commenting and thought the same but couldn't come up with anything better offhand. I suppose low close numbers aren't something to complain about. I just wish there were a more easily quantifiable measure to go by. Oh well.
    – Pops
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 19:28
  • @Pops: After one month and with the next change that may affect this, I looked at the stats again. We went from 134 of 494 questions closed in the three months before tag warnings to 37 of 197 questions closed in the last month. The probability that this happened by chance is 8 % (Fisher’s exact test). Assuming that it didn’t, it may of course still be that an avid close voter became less active or similar.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 7:45

4 Answers 4


, ,

Translation requests are better received and get better answers if they:

  • elaborate why a dictionary did not provide a satisfying answer;
  • are only about a single word, phrase, or idiom – not a larger text;
  • give some example context and explain what meaning should be conveyed;
  • require expertise of German, and not another language.

For further details, please see these guidelines.



Word and phrase requests get better answers if they:

  • elaborate why a thesaurus or other dictionary did not help;
  • describe the meaning to convey without relying on a translation.

For further details, please see these guidelines.


Questions on meaning are better received and get better answers if they:

  • elaborate why a dictionary did not provide a satisfying answer;
  • are only about a single word, phrase, or idiom – not a larger text.

For further details, please see these guidelines.


Questions about differences between words or phrases are better received and get better answers if they:

  • elaborate why a dictionary did not provide a satisfying answer;

  • elaborate why the meanings may overlap.

For further details, please see these guidelines.

  • Another problem I have noticed with questions in this tag is that they tend to address a lot of words at the same time (“What is the difference between Apfel, Birne, Tomate, Elefant and Pflaume?”). Should we perhaps add a bullet point about that? E.g. “(if they) contrast just two or at most three options”.
    – chirlu
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 14:16
  • 1
    @Chirlu: I wouldn’t see this as a problem per se. If four words are indeed reasonable candidates for the same meaning, splitting up the question leads to unnecessary redundancies and it’s fine to have them in one question, see this question for an extreme example. Of course, many such questions (such as your example) ask for words whose meanings are sufficiently distinct that they should not appear in one question at all, but that’s covered by the second point.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 14:49
  • I doubt that a tag warning will help to make questions asking for differences better.
    – Takkat
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 20:35

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