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Currently, the second-most-common tag on the site is , on 66/314 questions. Thanks to kaya's efforts we know that it's applied to close to all questions that are in some way about syntax.

If we look at the list of questions with the tag, though, it seems that they don't have a lot in common with each other, and there's quite different senses of "syntax" that they are about:

  • Some are seeking options for syntax for something. These are primarily the ones that complaints about "syntax questions" relate to, but make up a good proportion of well-received questions.

  • Some are about parsing — any parsing question is fundamentally related to syntax too, but it's in a very different way; it's not clear that the tag is informative here.

  • Some are about grammars, and how to make one that represents the right syntax.

  • Some are about the internal representation of syntax trees.

    These last three are somewhat close to one another, but different to the rest.

  • Some are about language features that happen to have syntax (e.g. do-while loops) or relate to syntax (e.g. domain-specific language constructs), and the impact of having language-level support for that feature.

  • Some are about the entirety of a language's syntax; these might fit in with one of the previous classes.

  • A few are none of these, and maybe not actually about syntax after all.

You could chop things up further or differently — there are questions more on the lexical than syntactic side, questions about operator precedence, that might be about function colouring, etc — but at least we can see that there are distinct groupings in there.

All of these are pretty defensibly about "syntax", but in very different ways, and the tag isn't very helpful in categorising them — there's at least three different disconnected clusters in there with different expert groups, a core purpose of a tag. I think we should either restrict to applying to one of these groups, or create new tags as applicable and not use the big one at all as too ambiguous.

This might be something like:

We might limit to one of those, or to the cases where none of the more specific tags apply, which we should then note in the excerpt & tag wiki. It's also possible that everyone thinks things are fine as they are, and these do all belong together.

What should we do about this? If we are going to make any change, doing it while there are only a few dozen questions to re-tag will be better than later.

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2 Answers 2

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Do nothing

This answer is to support the status quo, and for leaving the tag and all its questions as it is now with no changes.

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Add ; only use if no other applies

My proposal is:

I expect itself will have only a few questions left after that, but will be fine to continue from there.

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