This meta question now has the canonical tag thanks to gWaldo. Before I, or someone else, remove that tag I'd like to get a better understanding of what makes a question canonical. Quite simply, that particular question just doesn't fit the general pattern of others that have been made canonical.

As a secondary topic, I'd like to see the use of such tags restricted to those with a diamond.

  • I kind of thought we'd already dealt with this an wish that gWaldo had read meta.serverfault.com/questions/3262/… before embarking on the work he did. That's why we have a question with the canonical answers listed.
    – user9517
    Sep 10, 2012 at 9:55
  • 1
    Those questions tagged "canonical" are only on Meta.SF. There shouldn't be a "canonical" tag on the main site as it would be a meta-tag. that question is tagged as such because it's discussing canonical Question(s), though it's listed as one as well, something I'm not too hot on.
    – Chris S
    Sep 10, 2012 at 13:11
  • @ChrisS serverfault.com/questions/tagged/canonical
    – user9517
    Sep 10, 2012 at 18:43
  • I wish I'd seen that post before doing that work, but as @John Gardeniers pointed out in that thread, without the tag, the only way to discover these questions we consider Canonical is to 1) know about the meta discussion, and then browse it hoping for the topic that you're looking for, and finally clicking on that link.
    – gWaldo
    Sep 11, 2012 at 19:01
  • I was attempting to help make useful information more accessible, but if my efforts were unwelcome, nuke as you see fit. Regardless, I still look forward to seeing this information made more accessible. I mean that with every possible sense of honesty and sincerity.
    – gWaldo
    Sep 11, 2012 at 19:04
  • @gWaldo, that is why I wanted other people's input instead of following my first instinct. I really wasn't sure which of us were wrong on this one. Sep 11, 2012 at 22:49
  • @JohnGardeniers From what I read, it seems that you and I are in complete agreement (with several other in support) about the solution, with the main point of contention being some people's dislike of a meta-tag. Is the contention being brought up is that I went ahead and did it without consent?
    – gWaldo
    Sep 12, 2012 at 14:49
  • @gWaldo, "without consent" isn't what I was talking about. It was really about whether or not such a question should have the canonical tag. As an aside, I believe only diamonds should be able to apply certain tags, which is already the case for some tags, and personally feel the canonical tag should be on that list. This is because I believe the value of such tags is greatly diminished if not tightly controlled. Some of us have been around long enough to do a fair judgment call but right now I'm not aware of any impediment to a new poster using that tag as they like. Sep 12, 2012 at 23:53
  • I have no problem with that tag being for mod use only, but is my not being a mod an issue? If changes I (or anyone else) make are determined to be 'for the worst', it can be rolled back. If I (/they) get obnoxious about redoing changes, restrictions/banning happens.
    – gWaldo
    Sep 13, 2012 at 0:05
  • In re-reading things, is it just that one question that the tag is being called into question, the application of the tag, or the tag in general? We've touched upon all three.
    – gWaldo
    Sep 13, 2012 at 0:13
  • @gWaldo, I only came across this one one question and didn't go out looking for other examples, so can't say whether they exist or not. Sep 13, 2012 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


To me a good canonical question has the following attributes:

  • Addresses a commonly encountered question.
  • The question itself is fairly clear.
  • The answer is sufficiently concise to be readable, but detailed enough to be a complete answer.
  • The answer is widely accepted to be the best answer for the question.
  • Can be used as a Duplicate-Of target for close-votes

That last point is why so very few of our canonical questions are on meta.

That particular question, regarding *AMP installers, is primarily about category topicality which isn't a good fit for the tag. If it's anything, it'd be a better fit for ; the question is in a similar vein to this one about professionals.

  • I think all the canonical questions listed in the meta question have been tagged as such.
    – user9517
    Sep 10, 2012 at 10:05

The canonical tag is a bad idea.

Using tagging for this - particularly mod-only tags - feels like bureaucracy for its own sake. The fact that you even have to suggest making this usable only by moderators speaks to the obvious potential for misuse and abuse inherent in the very concept. I strongly encourage you to eradicate this abomination as quickly as possible. I've removed it from all existing questions outside of meta; if it returns, I'll happily blacklist it.

A sufficiently good "canonical" question should naturally migrate to the top of the Votes and FAQ lists in its respective tags. When repeatedly used as a target for duplicate questions, it'll start showing up in the list on the "Close as Duplicate" dialog. If you need a separate list of these, a post linking to them (which you already have) should suffice.

And all of this is either directly accessible to everyone, or automatic based on stuff that's accessible to everyone.

Forcing mods to mediate every single "canon or not canon" discussion just adds resistance to a process that already has plenty of that simply by its nature. They should be able to weigh in like anyone else, putting on that diamond hat only when a dispute requires mediation.

  • So you're saying it's OK for anyone to tag any question canonical whenever they feel like it. Great, that should really add value to the tag. Oct 2, 2012 at 23:11
  • 1
    No, I didn't say that. Perhaps I was too diplomatic. I've edited.
    – Shog9
    Oct 2, 2012 at 23:57
  • Thanks, that make much more sense. Oct 3, 2012 at 2:28
  • 1
    Thankyou for backing this up; I'm a hater of meta tags but I already lost this argument over in the chatroom a few days ago! Oct 3, 2012 at 4:09
  • So, we're back to what - to me - the original question was: How can we make the canonical questions more accessible/apparent/visible to our userbase? As it's been discussed elsewhere, an oft-edited answer on MSF is none of those three.
    – gWaldo
    Oct 3, 2012 at 12:08
  • " ...You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anyone or anything.' But the plans were on display...' on display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.' That's the display department.' With a torch.' Ah, well the lights had probably gone.' So had the stairs.' But look you found the notice didn't you?' Yes,' said Arthur, `yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard".' -- Douglas Adams.
    – gWaldo
    Oct 3, 2012 at 12:08
  • Up-vote good questions, close duplicates, make sure everything is well-tagged. There's a bunch of automatic searching and cross-linking that happens on the main site if these things are done, @gWaldo.
    – Shog9
    Oct 3, 2012 at 13:23

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