This has already been brought up and been discussed extensively on Stack Overflow but we're already starting to see an abundance of duplicate tags with different formats - sql2005, sql-2005, etc. So I just wanted to bring in Joel Coehoorn's tips, updated for Server Fault for effectively tagging questions.

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  • Sure, thats done
    – Sam Cogan
    Commented May 2, 2009 at 17:52

5 Answers 5


Effective Tags - Bring more attention to your question

  • Pick tags that show higher counts in the look-ahead prompts, as they are more likely to make your question appear highlighted for a user on the main page or show up in someone's rss feed.
  • At a minimum, try to include at least one very broad tag (i.e., server-2003 or linux) and one other tag to narrow the topic down within that broader category (i.e. SMTP, or Firewall ).
  • You are limited to 5 tags, and you are generally better off trying to use all 5 of them (if there are 5 appropriate matches among existing tags).
  • Try to use broad tags. For example, you usually want to include the version with the .Net tag rather than the language. While tagging a question linux-ubuntu-9.04 might convey exactly the information you intend (it implies Linux, Ubuntu, and version 9.04 all in one tag), tagging it linux ubuntu ubuntu-9.04 will bring your question lots more attention, since more people will watch the generic Linux and Ubuntu tags. There is of course a trade-off: you used 3 tags to convey the same information you could have done with one. However, it's hard to understate how many more views the generic tags will bring to your question.
  • Each tag should stand on its own: if a tag only makes sense when used in a group with other tags, something is wrong. For example, tagging a question as "Windows XP " (two tags) is wrong.

Tagging Don'ts

  • Try not to create new tags. If you create a new tag, that tag is guaranteed not to help your question show up on any subscribed rss feeds or interesting tag lists. Again, the look-ahead prompt can help with this. Odds are it also means you're missing an existing tag for that topic that would more-accurately categorize your question.
  • Don't try to summarize your question using the tags. The point of tags on ServerFault is to help other interested persons find your question by sorting it into clear, specific categories. This is not the same as indexing or summarizing the question. The differences are subtle, but important.
  • Don't use your username for a tag.


  • Use all lower-case
  • Replaces spaces with dashes (-) to combine multiple words into a single word
  • Avoid punctuation. This can make it difficult to use the tag in a url
  • Ex: Tag "active directory" as "active-directory".
  • A number of tags pre-date the guidelines, and are therefore formatted differently. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't follow these rules.
  • When naming a tag, think about how someone would google that subject. In most cases this means typing out the full name, but you may also want to use the abbreviation. For example, "DNS" is probably more appropriate than "Domain-Name-System".


  • Do not re-tag a question if you are not going to add value to the question information by doing it.
  • Do not re-tag only to change the format of the tag (i.e., serverfault -> server-fault). This is done automatically by the community user.
  • Do re-tag questions to use well-known and popular tags that are appropriate for the question.
  • What about retagging a question to reformat a tag when somebody makes one up? On SO, I sometimes see somebody make up a new tag when there is already an existing one, so I fix it.
    – Zifre
    Commented May 3, 2009 at 0:23
  • Nice :) But a few minor points until I can edit myself: 9.0.4 should be 9.04 (the 04 is for April). Also backup and ubuntu aren't the best tags for being narrow as they are both (currently) in the ten most common tags - backup being more common that windowsserver2003. Maybe the narrow tags could be smtp, firewall ... Commented May 3, 2009 at 19:06
  • Good points, have adapted to meet them.
    – Sam Cogan
    Commented May 3, 2009 at 21:03
  • First you give instruction to use all lower-case, then you give example of tag "Windows Server 2003" which should be transformed to "Windows-Server-2003", shouldn't that be "windows-server-2003"?
    – Juha Syrjälä
    Commented May 5, 2009 at 17:22
  • Also "Windows Server 2003" is a bit bad example, since there is already popular tag "windowsserver2003". Maybe "active-directory" would be better example for this case?
    – Juha Syrjälä
    Commented May 5, 2009 at 17:34

Does anyone else then the 'system-administration' and 'network-administration' tags are redundant and should be removed when found?

  • 15 character minimum to say yes.
    – Chealion
    Commented May 24, 2009 at 6:18

Can we cook up any consensus on plurals? We have best-practices, filesystems, upgrade, tips, log-files and configuration. Network and printers. Should we just go with the most popular version of a tag?

Obviously Windows has to say plural ;)

  • 1
    Well in my opinion, tags denote a collection, so should be plural in the case of best-practices, it gets a bit less obvious with filesystems and upgrades, I prefer plural, but either would work
    – Sam Cogan
    Commented May 2, 2009 at 17:51

How are redundant tags handled? For example, there is currently serveroom, server-room, and datacenter which all mean the same thing.


I've gotten in the habit of whenever I see a question that obviously shouldn't be on serverfault ("my monitor's resolution is weird, help"), I've been retagging with "techsupport", since that's essentially what the request is.

Any thoughts on whether this is A) reasonable or B) a good idea?

  • Its a good idea to tag posts that don't belong here with something, so that people who can, can easily vote for them to be closed, it would be nice if it was a consistent tag everyone used. As for these techsupport questsions, they will eventually have a home on SuperUser, so it may make some sense to eventually use a belongs-on-superuser tag
    – Sam Cogan
    Commented Jun 2, 2009 at 8:12

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