Re: BMike's question - Where is the list of canonical questions stored for Ask Different?

It would seem reasonable that such questions could get their own tag type.

Trying to find them when closing as a dupe is not all that simple. Even when you know the keywords for the dupe search field - for example, I just tested "bypass activation lock" & it turned up 9th in the list. If you're less certain of the title it involves digging through meta to find BMike's QA first.

I even tried "[ios] bypass"... but it's not tagged iOS, it's iPhone.

If we had a [canonical] or [faq] tag type, it would make things a lot simpler, imo.


  • Agreed and thanks for this proposal.
    – fsb
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 15:29
  • 1
    I like the idea, very much so. We may need to actively manage the use of the tag though, to prevent people misuse it.
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:30
  • (and I've just changed the tag on the bypass question to ios :-)
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:31
  • @patrix - I was going to mention policing in the question body - but thought that every time someone uses the tag to search, they are reasonably likely to spot any anomalies in the list; so the policing could be quite "accidental" (& thanks :)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:32
  • We'll also need a good tag description of course, but something tells me that users don't tend to read them...
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:34
  • 1
    Users read?? What next? Doing research? Being clear & concise? Checking for dupes? What is the world coming to? ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:37
  • Like the simple yes/no choice answers, btw. Great idea.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:38

3 Answers 3



Upvote this answer if you support the idea of creating a canonical flag on the main site to identify canonical questions.

  • To prevent the misuse of this tag, which I consider more 'important' than regular tags due to the fact we're telling users "here's the above-average, clear answer for your question...", do you think the use should be limited to a higher point level?
    – fsb
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:36
  • @fsb At first glance I don't see a way to limit the use of a tag to higher-rep users.
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:41
  • I know that some features are only permitted to users with a specific number of points, I wasn't sure if the use of tags was the same. I wonder if some of the other SE sites that have canonical flags have problems with people over-using them? If not, then this is a non-issue.
    – fsb
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:47


Upvote this answer if you are against creating a canonical flag on the main site.


Absolutely no.

This proposal is literally opposing the purpose of tagging: categorising the content of questions. Tags should be about the question content, as defined in the first line of the relevant section of the help center. Meta-tags are also specifically mentioned as later on in the article.

A tag is a word or phrase that describes the topic of the question.

Avoid meta-tags
Do not use meta-tags in questions. Here are some tips to help you determine whether a tag is a meta-tag:


Your proposed tag says nothing about the content of the question. Meta-tagging has been prohibited from Stack Exchange sites for many years now.

meta-tagging is explicitly discouraged

If the tag can't work as the only tag on a question, it's probably a meta-tag.


  • That post is six years old & completely fails to cover any kind of FAQ scenario; the weak subjectivity it berates I totally agree with. We have no mechanism [other than maintaining our own personal reference lists] for quickly searching a canonical post to vote on a dupe.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 19:01
  • @Tetsujin The blog post was to illustrate the background behind the decision — the help center is current and shows the same view. Maintaining a reference list is the same as maintaining a list of questions with a specific tag, except the latter is meta-tagging and shouldn't be used.
    – grg Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 19:12
  • "Shouldn't" is what the community decides, not what legacy dictates. Maintaining a reference list, personal to each user or buried away on a meta-post, is not really the way to be able to recall a canonical database for commonly re-asked questions. Anyway, I've said my piece, I won't vote on this answer either way, I'll see what the community decides on patrick's yes/no vote.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 19:16
  • @Tetsujin I definitely agree with the first statement, but it was the community that decided that meta-tagging was inappropriate. I'm agreeing with them not just because of the legacy but because I agree with the sentiment and the problems caused by the use of meta-tagging. Cheers for this meta discussion by the way!
    – grg Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 19:19
  • Then maybe we don't use "canonical" for a tag but we do something similar to this practice at the Math SE site? While they refer to these as 'meta tags', they seem like a step-up from a specific tag and a step-down from an overly generic "canonical" tag. idk, I like the "canonical" tag but definitely see @grgarside's point, too.
    – fsb
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 19:46
  • Re: the math meta - these/this tag would never be stand-alone. It would be applied retrospectively. Ideally no-one would 'claim' it on a first answer to a new question, it would be added after some time, as a retroactive action on multi-posts on very similar issues. If it were possible, I'd prefer it to be an admin-only tag, to aid only this one problem, not randomly added to posts by idio... errmmm... users who want to claim a 'rank' [but I doubt that's possible, so some policing/discussion would be required.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 20:33
  • @grgarside - I do agree with your sentiments overall, meta-tagging is not a "good thing". I'm seeing this as a 'quick search' for really 'special' answers that have the community behind them as 'good fit for many situations' QAs
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 20:38
  • I agree meta tags are generally bad, but there's always an exception. Consider the FAQ and featured tag in meta. That's a double dose of meta, but having one exception might be worth exploring. I need to think over your good points - imaginary +1 for putting them down in writing.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 21:44

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