I am pretty sure this site does not have this tag. Why though? ELL has this tag, in which a person can post a canonical post intended as a reference for questioners.

  • 2
    Maybe it's because there isn't a culture on ELU of canonical posts? English Language Learners is all about 'correctness' (and rightly so). ELU is about nuance and variety and is less inclined to establishing absolute truths.
    – Mitch
    Jul 4, 2022 at 15:30
  • By the way, there are some canonical -meta- posts, like references. It might be nice for those so it'd be easier to search.
    – Mitch
    Jul 4, 2022 at 15:32
  • 1
    @Mitch Canonical questions on Meta should probably be tagged as faqs. We do actually have a list of canonical main-site questions too.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jul 8, 2022 at 8:38

1 Answer 1


That's a meta tag. According to the blog post on meta tags:

The reason meta-tags are a problem is that they do not describe the content of the question. They describe some other aspect of the question, like the author’s skill level, or the author’s motivation for asking it, or generally what “kind” of question it is (poll, how-to, etc.).

I don't think the tag should exist on EL&U or ELL. At best it's simply not useful. (When I'm looking for an answer to an English question, it doesn't matter how the question was made.) At worst it's being used instead of a tag that would be useful, one that describes what the question is about. (Note the ELL question that only has the [canonical-post] tag.)

Instead of using meta-tags, I find the canonical by either looking at the highest voted questions in a tag (example: highest voted tense questions) or by finding one of the many duplicates via search (example: questions linked to our tense canonical). You can also see the most linked-to questions by using the frequent tab.

And one more important thing: "canonicals" aren't always questions that were asked by meta consensus or even by someone who knew the answer. A lot of questions become canonicals because of the effort put in by the answerers to create a thorough explanation. (And this may be the final reason why I find the tag on ELL not useful: Where are all the "organic" questions that serve as canonicals? Who gets to determine what counts as one of those?)


Here I am in the process of finding a question to be a canonical on a specific topic, since I saw a mess of open, duplicate questions: "Why don't we close these duplicates?" vs "Why do we not close these duplicates?" vs "Why do not we close these questions as duplicates?".

  • 1
    But it's impossible to find all the organic questions
    – DialFrost
    Jul 4, 2022 at 12:15
  • Are you looking to just browse questions no matter the topic or do you have specific questions/topics you're interested in?
    – Laurel Mod
    Jul 4, 2022 at 12:22
  • Both, I understand how highly voted questions or answers can be viewed as canonical posts, but what about those concrete and well written but low voted posts?
    – DialFrost
    Jul 4, 2022 at 12:26
  • Low voted posts I typically find via regular searches. And I try to help searches be effective by editing posts so they can easily be found later. I also leave comments linking related posts together, like breadcrumbs.
    – Laurel Mod
    Jul 4, 2022 at 12:53
  • Is there a main post linking all concrete posts though? One canonical post on ELL listed quite a few other concrete questions and answers
    – DialFrost
    Jul 4, 2022 at 13:44
  • 1
    I'm not sure what you mean by "concrete posts". There's no index of canonicals that I know of (though the Frequent tab is a pretty good automatically generated list).
    – Laurel Mod
    Jul 4, 2022 at 14:08
  • @DialFrost 1) what does concrete mean? 2) what does organic mean?
    – Mitch
    Jul 4, 2022 at 19:14
  • I was wondering the same things. Most questions turn out, on investigation, to be about something else that the OPs didn't know how to look for, and then got answered, again and again. Wrong religious metaphor: it isn't canon, it's pilpul. Jul 4, 2022 at 22:20
  • I think a FAQ question that presented several related questions (duplicates, probably) and either quoted or linked (preferably both) the most relevant answers would be a contribution to making the many excellent contributions here easier to find, as @Laurel is experimenting with on one topic.
    – Xanne
    Jul 8, 2022 at 9:05
  • As I've said here before, the SE method of Question and Answer is a poor fit for the realities of English grammar and usage. Questions come from random directions, asking irrelevant questions, using poor descriptions, couched in their own terminologies, and frequently not understanding good answers unless they're pitched to their specific level. Repetition is useful for teaching, but only if the student comes to class more than once. Jul 14, 2022 at 14:13

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