Shouldn't there be a necessary tag (a la meta.stackoverflow) for all questions, as some language features and spellings are unique to certain dialects of English, like brit-english, american-english or ozzie-english


2 Answers 2


I think this is a solution for the wrong problem. The problem is not that people aren’t tagging their questions with dialect specificity. No, the problem is that people aren’t aware that something they say or know about English is in fact peculiar to their dialect of English, and they present it as though it is a fact about English in general. Of course, since the offenders are simply oblivious to the fact that what they’re talking about is dialect-specific, they have no way of alerting others to this, whether it be by dialect-specific tag, or whatnot. Since this is really most commonly an issue with answers rather than questions, tags don't really seem like the right solution.

Ideally, users would (at least) identify what dialect of English they speak in their user profile. I have just done this, and everyone else should too. Other than that, the best solution to the problem of people discussing dialect-specific stuff as though it were universal truth about English is to alert them using the commenting mechanism. That’s what it’s for.

  • I love your suggestion that we all add our native dialects to our user profiles. Has anybody asked the SE team whether it's feasible to add native dialect as a built-in profile field?
    – Billy Jo
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 0:10
  • Even better would be a way to (electively?) show this next to the user info with the question/answer. Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 22:51

Shouldn't there be a necessary tag (a la meta.stackoverflow)?

No. Most questions are simply about English, not specific to some variant of it.

(If someone's not familiar with meta SO: there you can't post a question without selecting one tag out of "discussion", "feature-request", "bug" or "support".)

Then again: Should tags be used when question is about, or specific to, a dialect such as Australian English or Estuary English? Yes, of course! And that's exactly how tags are currently being used; see these, for example:

Making it required to select a dialect tag for every question would not help us in any way, but it would cause unnecessary confusion and swearing. And also artificially highlight differences and foster segregation, undermining the fact that all these variants still are still part of the same language.

  • 4
    Required dialects tags would force us to have a tag such as general-english, which of course would make as much sense as using programming tag on Stack Overflow.
    – Jonik
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 17:36
  • 1
    "separated by a common language"... I do agree with not making a tag required for all questions. But I'd encourage everyone who has the required rep to retag questions when it is or becomes clear that the question is about a local (for some generous definition of local) peculiarity. Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 22:54

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