Yesterday, I learned about a feature of the SE sites which was new to me: tag-warnings. It appears to me those would be a perfect match for and , since both tags often indicate the asker may be going to ask an off-topic question, which could be better asked on Opensource.SE (or sometimes Law.SE) instead.

Since only CMs can enable those, I would like to follow the protocol to request them, which means to post the request here on Meta. As a suggestion for the warning text, I think we could start with parts from the tag info texts:


  • Licensing questions on Software Engineering are limited to general use-cases of software licenses: any specific questions about the legal enforcement of licenses (like, for example, suing people) is off-topic: consult a lawyer instead.

  • For questions about open source licenses, opensource.stackexchange.com is often the better place to ask, since their community has specific experts for this topic.

Open source

  • This tag is for asking about designing programs that interact with open source software.
  • Questions about open-source licensing are off-topic. You may ask questions about open source licensing on [opensource.stackexchange.com].

As Thomas Owens noted in a comment, we also have some tags for specific licenses, where exactly the same warning text as for could be used. Here are the ones I could find so far: , , , , , , . I also found two other tags which I see in the same "likely off-topic" category, they could get a very similar warning: and .

So what do you think?

2 Answers 2


This request is now complete. According to the list provided to me, I added tag warnings for the following tags:

  1. License related tags: licensing/license/licenses, xxx-license/licenses(mit-license, apache license, etc.), creative-commons, gpl, agpl, mpl, lgpl

  2. Open-source related tags: open-source

Thanks for reporting!

  • 1
    Thanks for implementing this and letting us know!
    – Doc Brown
    Jan 6, 2022 at 7:08

I'd also include tags like , , , , , and in this. I found these by going through a few pages of closed and deleted posts, since posts that fall into one of the explicitly off-topic topics are often quickly deleted.

Depending on the level of effort, a smaller experiment could be useful with a small set of tags related to one of our off-topic close reasons to see if it reduces the volume of questions in that category, but that experiment may also take effort.

I'll add this to the CM review queue.

  • 1
    Yes, I was also thinking about adding more tags to the list, but I think then we need a suggestion for the warning text for each of them, right? And I don't think a smaller experiment is really necessary - the worst thing which could happen is that the tag warning does not bring us the results we wish for, but then it still won't hurt anyone.
    – Doc Brown
    Jun 13, 2021 at 17:58
  • 1
    @DocBrown I agree. The point of the experiment is that we have three categories of tags that I can see that are explicitly off-topic that should have a warning: legal/licensing, education/career, tool/service usage or recommendation. I think it's hard to detect writing/debugging code or best way questions using tags alone. I don't know how hard it is to apply tag warnings, so the best option would be to pick one, identify all the tags, put a warning on them, and see if it works for that category. If it does, apply warnings to other key categories of tags.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Jun 13, 2021 at 18:06
  • @DocBrown I'd consider licensing and open-source one category that would also include the various tags for specific open-source licenses that we have. If selected, tags like agpl, apache-license, mit-license. gpl, and others should be included in the list.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Jun 13, 2021 at 18:08
  • Good idea. Let's see if this suggestion will get more support.
    – Doc Brown
    Jun 13, 2021 at 18:10
  • @DocBrown Yeah. I think this idea has merit. At this point, a CM needs to provide guidance on what the next step is. I do think that this is something that should be done, at least to see if there's an impact, if not fully implemented.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Jun 13, 2021 at 18:33
  • For some reason, I think that your problem is that the tag exist, rather than there's poor guidance.
    – Braiam
    Jun 15, 2021 at 0:59
  • 1
    @Braiam: the specific license tags: probably yes. The general license tag: no, there are several on-topic questions where the tag applies. Moreover, we have a lot of historical question where "license" and "open-source" tags apply from the time before "Opensource.SE" existed and when this site had a different name ("Programmers.SE").
    – Doc Brown
    Jun 15, 2021 at 7:53
  • 1
    ... there also cerrtain question like this one which should have been asked elsewhere, but won't get migrated, shouldn't be deleted because the question and their answers have probably high value to the community, and tag removal does also not to be the right thing.
    – Doc Brown
    Jun 15, 2021 at 7:58
  • Thomas, in ancient times of stci we discussed blacklisting some tags, eg here, would you consider this option for (some of) troublesome tags now?
    – gnat
    Jun 17, 2021 at 12:27
  • @gnat The hard thing with blacklisting is that (unless things have changed), it will require the tags to be edited out of every post with them before the tag can be blacklisted. Unfortunately, the tools for tag management are...lacking. It would be nice if it was easier to do bulk operations or do tag edits without bumping posts. I think blacklisting certain tags would be nice, but tag warnings would be much easier to support this effort in the short-term, especially if it's effective.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Jun 17, 2021 at 12:47
  • I see. Tag removal for stuff like licensing would be cure worse than dicease. How about a way that currently works for career* tags? It keeps old questions in career-development tag but blocks adding them, like at this screen shot
    – gnat
    Jun 17, 2021 at 13:30
  • Today, someone asked about a book, using the "books" tag. Seems to be a good candidate, too.
    – Doc Brown
    Aug 26, 2022 at 9:35

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