# Are we sending mixed messages with so many off topic tags?

I've been looking through all the tags that have posts (most having posts this year). There are very many that are automatically off-topic and more that it would be hard to make an on-topic post for. I counted 62 off-topic or probably off-topic tags.

  adsense
amazon
android
apache
bbpress
bug
cloudflare
disqus
e-commerce
feedburner
flickr
genesis-theme-framework
hosting-recommendation
microsoft
nginx
php.ini
plugin-all-in-one-seo
plugin-cforms
plugin-contact-form-7
plugin-event-organiser
plugin-events-calendar
plugin-gravity-forms
plugin-jetpack
plugin-list-category-post
plugin-magic-fields
plugin-mailchimp
plugin-mathjax
plugin-nextgen-gallery
plugin-ninja-forms
plugin-option-tree
plugin-polylang
plugin-posts-to-posts
plugin-recommendation
plugin-simple-fields
plugin-w3-total-cache
plugin-wp-e-commerce
plugin-wp-pagenavi
plugin-wp-postratings
plugin-wp-seo-yoast
plugin-wp-supercache
plugin-wpml
plugin-wptouch
pods-framework
stackoverflow
the-events-calendar
theme-p2
theme-thesis
third-party-applications
vimeo
virus
woocommerce
wordpress.com-hosting
wpalchemy


I can see the argument against removing them (they'll just get made again) but that doesn't help the confusion.

The only suggestion I have is to prefix all or most of these with OFF-TOPIC-.

Does anyone have any better suggestions? Surely we can do better?

• wordpress.com-hosting was actually a deliberate rename as people were using it unaware that .com and .org aren't the same thing, their Q had nothing to do with wordpress.com, I'd also question that all those tags are offtopic, e.g. nginx, apache, stackoverflow. Also some users use these tags to find offtopic questions – Tom J Nowell Mod Apr 7 '20 at 14:49

A tag is serving two purposes: finding content and hiding content. And the latter is what prevents us from deleting or merging tags. Many users have blocked for example the tag woocommerce, because they are annoyed by those questions. If we remove the tag, their question list will suddenly get polluted with that again.

Also note that it's not the tag what makes a question off-topic, it's the content. Sometimes you can answer a question that was about a certain plugin in a more general way. That's rare, I admit that. But we should always look out for those opportunities.

• The tag blocking is probably the reason why WPSE is so inconsistent. woocommerce being off-topic and yet often asked and answered. For a while, I welcomed and explained to new users but was told that welcoming new users and explaining stuff to them was bad behavior. – Matthew Brown aka Lord Matt Dec 14 '20 at 16:55

The problem here is that any user with a particular level of reputation can recreate the tags, so deleting them does not work. We've tried in the past, in particular with the WooCommerce tag, and it gets recreated.

We've also tried updating the description of tags to state that the subject is offtopic.

It's also possible to tag something but still be on topic.

For example:

WooCommerce has this filter, but I don't understand how filters worked

Such a question might be answerable without needing WooCommerce specific knowledge by just giving a brief explainer of how filters work

• I've seen questions like your example closed as off-topic and blatantly off-topic questions getting answers. We have to face the truth that WPSE is wildly inconsistent and will likely remain so until high rep users make it easier for new users to progress. – Matthew Brown aka Lord Matt Dec 14 '20 at 16:58
• @MatthewBrownakaLordMatt usually they're not asking how WordPress filters work, that is on topic, instead they're asking how a specific WooCommerce filter works, that is off topic. One can be answered with a generic filter example that does not reference mention or use WC. The other requires knowledge of WooCommerce APIs and is a WC dev support question that cannot be answered without WC knowledge. If you have an example then I can explain that particular instance. – Tom J Nowell Mod Dec 15 '20 at 0:45