The other day jmac and I were chatting and he raised the opinion that the was a terrible tag and he makes some good points.

If someone works for twitter in HR are they in the software-industry? I currently work for an insurance company as a programmer, do I work in the software-industry? You get the idea. A simple solution to this would be to just change the tag to something like but I think there is more to it than that.

Why do we have an industry specific tag in the first place, I thought they were bad? Well the software-industry tag is wildly popular at least partially because the majority of Stack Exchange users know about SE because of stackoverflow[citation-needed]. Additionally as a software developer myself, I like to think there are a number of unique issue we face such as listing our skills on a resume, frequently having to learn on the job because the industry changes frequently, etc... Until I realized I use to face exactly those issues when I was lifeguard. What I am saying is all industries have unique issues; I don't even think there are more unique issues as a developer compared to other industries. Just because there is a lot of software related questions it doesn't make it okay for them to have an industry specific tag (for all you fellow programmers, just because everyone around you is using floats as their iterator in a for loop, doesn't mean you should).

Additionally the work environments of software developers vary wildly between companies; compare a company which still run a 9-5, waterfall based development shop to companies like Valve which have 100% time (like google's 20% time, but you just work on whatever you want always). The point is, just because we both program does not mean that we face the same problems or the solutions that we face will be the same.

Jmac also raised the point that it is unlikely that we can just burn the tag once and for all since people will just keep creating new tags...


or if you prefer some 7 year old Ian art (thank jmac for this one):

Ian's supreme artistic talent

Weigh in! Should we be tempting fate by adding more programming tags? Changing the software-industry tag? Giving poor jmac/mods a bigger sword to try and fight the programming hydra?

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    This is absolutely tremendous, and I hope our new moderator candidates will weigh in on it! While I am, of course, here to serve the community as always, this is really something that the community will need to lead with the support of the moderators first. Again, this is really well thought-out and well-written, thank you for that Ian!
    – jmac
    Aug 5, 2014 at 12:35
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    This is the fourth most popular tag on the site, and - as you note - there's a good reason for that. I really think y'all need to figure out what problem this tag is attempting to address and come up with a better solution for that before y'all get all gung-ho about the relatively mundane task of removing it. The previous discussion here on meta suggests that job types would be an appropriate form of classifying certain questions, but I don't really see that happening much - think about it.
    – Shog9
    Aug 8, 2014 at 17:58

4 Answers 4


My first thoughts on the topic is that the rep needed for adding tags is too low. The 'Hydra' problem, from the perspective of a new user still learning the ropes of TWP.

As I see it, the active members are very concerned with making sure good answers get the votes they deserve. That being the case, I pulled quite a bit of my rep from around three answers. I'm nowhere near familiar enough with the community and and how TWP operates to create a tag or a less than obvious synonym. Even with my recently acquired review rep, I'm still timid to use it while I get a feel the community's expectations. Juxtaposed with main SE, I've had to work for the bit of rep I have. It's not heavily modded and sometimes feels like a free for all. I've been there for years, and have put down quite a few questions and answers and my TWP score is almost the same.

TL,DR - Quick accumulation of tag privs is a function of the community being engaged, potentially to the detriment of organization.

What to do?

  • Can we raise the rep required to create tags?
  • Start a review queue for new tags (Can this even be done?), turn off creation and all requests be made through TWP.Meta?
  • I noticed the 'new tags report' in the tags section, or some more data.stackexchange wizardry with added focus on these tools for the moderators to prune problematic new tags as they arise.

If it's helpful, I'm working on a query to show the posts tagged that have at least four total tags so to see how much damage a burnination would do. I'm thinking we might be able to work on re-tagging ones under the line if they aren't too plentiful and hoping it wouldn't be missed on the rest. Not sure i'll get to it today though.

edit: Posts tagged with , total tag count distribution Distribution of tag count for posts tagged with software-industry

Metaception - the art here is magnificent.


After discussions in chat, burnination is too harsh.

While does seem overused, it does have its place as a filter criteria for questions that are uniquely related to the software industry. The current challenge we are facing is that many of the questions it is tagged on are not specific to the software industry.

To make this tag more useful, we should review all the questions tagged with , and retag them if they are not specific to this industry.

Given that we are currently at 495 tagged questions and don't want to flood the active list with old questions that we are fixing, we will have to limit how many questions we retag per day.

Monica has suggested an excellent method for decoupling the review from the retag, so that users without retag permissions can participate in the review, and we can perform bulk operations on the questions that need cleanup.

If we are ok with moving forward on this, I'll set up some community wiki posts for "Questions unique to the (Keep Tag)" and "Questions that are more general than the (Remove Tag)".

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    First off, someone needs to write a really good justification for why y'all don't want or need this tag or others like it. Then you do any preliminary cleanup that's needed (closing / editing / deleting questions so-tagged). Then I make it so the tag never existed. Then I blacklist it with a link to your post explaining why the problem you think is special to the software industry isn't and you should feel bad for thinking it was. Then anyone trying to re-create the tag gets a link to your post and feels bad and doesn't use it.
    – Shog9
    Aug 8, 2014 at 17:52
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    Maybe start a CW post to sort the questions into two buckets: one for questions where the tag is appropriate, and one for those where it's not? That decouples the review from the retagging, so people can help with the former regardless of privs. If it turns out that there are relatively few questions in one of those buckets, we might be able to do a bulk operation to implement (and then just clean up those few). But until we know what we're dealing with, can't say for sure. Aug 12, 2014 at 2:38

I like the tag

To me, tags are filter mechanisms that allow me to filter questions for ones that are most likely to interest me, or that I feel I would be uniquely qualified to answer.

I do not know of any other way to filter the posts for ones that are specific to just the software-industry, or that are targetting the software-industry-specific answers.

This tag allows me to do just that, and I would be a sad panda to see it go away.

(As a side note, I fully support industry-specific tags providing there is something unique about the question/industry that makes it different from a general generic answer that would apply to every single industry)


There are 477 questions currently tagged 'software-industry'. A wholesale manual retagging is probably going to be unreasonably tough on the community (though if you think you can do it, I am all for that too).

Instead, I think we should just blacklist the tag, and when new tags pop up, we blacklist those too. We can do this wholesale, which would mean that we would just have to look for untagged questions afterwards and clean those up manually (which would be far less than 477).

We should get rid of the tag for all the reasons you explained in the question. It's not a good tag. We can always check for new tags when they are small, and make sure they are only baby hydras.

  • Is there any "blacklist reason" or somesuch that pops up when users try to use it? If they are more aware of why we got rid of it, I would imagine they would be less likely to create baby hydras Aug 8, 2014 at 5:52
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    @Matt, if you burninate or blacklist a tag, it can no longer be used or recreated in the future. Not quite sure of what the actual message is, but can check if you'd like.
    – jmac
    Aug 8, 2014 at 6:04
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    Just checked with the 'job' tag and the message is The tag 'job' is not allowed. However it looks like the burninate detection is looking for an exact match as it didn't flag "jobs" as too close. Aug 8, 2014 at 13:26
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    Just to clarify this: burnination is the mass-removal of a tag, either by members of the community or someone like me. If I do it, it'll be as though the tag never existed - there'll be no edits indicating that it was removed. Blacklisting prevents posts or edits from being submitted with a given tag, and is used to prevent a tag from coming back after it's been burninated.
    – Shog9
    Aug 8, 2014 at 17:54

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