What is the reason for removal of the "software" tag whenever it was used on a question. I've had a number of questions over the past couple of weeks where the "software" tag that I thought was the best topic for the tag, has been removed.

Software to me is quite a valid topic for genealogy, i.e. how to use it, how to record information in one, how to transfer data between them, how to get a utility program to work.

There is our own good writeup about the Software tag and how to use it.

I do understand that requests for software recommendations should be in the Software Recommendations StackExchange site set up specifically for that, but I don't think any of the questions I had with such suggested edits fall in that category, e.g.:

If not "software", what tags should the above topics get?

I've not seen any discussion on the meta about the removal of the "software" tag. If it would have been discussed, I would have voted against removing it.

So what is the reason for the removal of software as a tag from all questions using it?


I too was surprised when this tag was being removed from many questions, without alternative tags being added in some cases. Apparently there was discussion I had missed at: https://genealogy.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3285

The reasoning for removing the tag is not entirely clear to me. The process of re-tagging all the software questions was well underway by the time I started reviewing the proposed edits.

In the future we should make sure that any burnination of popular tags has its own dedicated meta post, and at least some semblance of community consensus, before proceeding.

  • That meta discussion you link to was from 4 years ago and mostly about software recommendations.
    – lkessler
    Nov 5 '17 at 22:12
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    @lkessler That discussion is from 3 weeks ago, not 4 years. Nov 6 '17 at 0:32
  • Oh, you mean the comments on one of the answers. From what they are saying, it appears they intended to remove software recommendations, but instead have been removing all "software" tags, whether they are a recommendation or not. I don't understand.
    – lkessler
    Nov 6 '17 at 3:14
  • @lkessler the discussion was initiated on October 13th 2017, not in October 2013.
    – user104
    Nov 6 '17 at 9:53
  • Software is absolutely a key part of how genealogical and family research is done today. I think we really should keep these questions, and the tags. Mar 6 '18 at 16:26

I am supportive of removing the tag from most, if not all questions, because it was being used mainly for software recommendations and it was unclear to me whether software recommendations were on-topic or off-topic here.

I think Which genealogy software or website is “the best”? clarified that software recommendations are on-topic here, as long as they follow the asking guidelines of the Software Recommendations Stack Exchange. It also clarified that software questions asking for lists of software or opinions to try and determine which software was "best" are off-topic.

To me that left the tag on a number of questions that were about using genealogy software. To me, these are clearly on-topic, but far better tagged with the actual software. Most are also tagged with that software, so I think the tag is superfluous.

If a question is about Family Tree Maker I would like to see it tagged rather than (or both).


Software questions are absolutely on-topic and (I strongly agree) should remain so.

The debate at Which genealogy software or website is “the best”? concluded that we should allow software recommendations here (within the strict guidelines applied by other Stackexchange sites, and recognising that we had already been allowing them since the site was born), and should retag the questions to where that is appropriate. (The on-topic help has also been updated in line with that discussion). (For context, that discussion arose out of Asking for genealogy software recommendations?)

If a question is asking for software recommendations to solve a specified problem, it has been retagged along with any other tags relevant to the problem. (This is a new tag to specifically recognise that we are explicitly allowing software recommendation questions).

If the question is asking for assistance in using a specific software package, it has been tagged -- most of these tags already existed, almost always on a question that had as well; has been removed as redundant.

, and have been used for questions that are about how best to carry out certain software-related tasks, often without reference to a specific product, but combined with either of the above tag where relevant. These tags already existed (again, often in combination with ), but it may be necessary to create new tags in future for similar generic software-related activities.

A new tag has been created for questions about how genealogists in aggregate behave -- the single example so far has asked for sources of statistical data about the volume of genealogists worldwide and their use of software packages; didn't seem to apply as that tag is about solving genealogical problems using statistics.

There's only one question left which is tagged : What factors should I consider when moving away from obsolete family tree software? -- which might be tagged and possibly ? Ironically, it originally asked for recommendations, but was edited to steer it in a different direction. Or, as it's very similar to What are the key features in genealogical software that will help me future proof my research? it could be tagged the same as that one:

Once that last question is retagged, we have a set of more specific (and I'd argue more useful) tags for software-related questions.

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    So if I want to follow all questions about any software, or software in general, I no longer have the tag to do it with. 😢
    – lkessler
    Nov 6 '17 at 17:01
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    @lkessler Did you follow that tag, or did you follow specific products that you had expertise on? I suspect none of us are experts in all software products... Also, the software tag wasn't being consistently used -- it tended to be dropped in preference for other tags if the tag list exceeded the limits.
    – user104
    Nov 6 '17 at 17:04
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    @lkessler, if we wanted to reinstate the software tag how would we differentiate it from software-recommendations and all the product specific questions (or as you suggesting two tags on all software-specific ones?) I can see (sideways if I squint hard) a case for a catchall tag but strongly suspect it would be abused and we'd all spend our life retagging.
    – user104
    Nov 6 '17 at 17:06
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    Yes, software is one of the 5 tags I follow. I thought I saw that it has 15 followers. I don't think software-recommendations should be a tag here since there is a Stack Exchange site for those. I think the tag description for the software tag that I linked to in my question is perfect as it is and it has nothing to do with software-recommendations. As the software tag description says: A good question is How do I do xxx with genealogy software. A bad question is: What genealogy software is best for doing xxx. The latter is for the Software Recommendations site.
    – lkessler
    Nov 7 '17 at 3:24
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    Looking at the 44 software-recommendations tags, in my opinion, most of them should be retagged to the old "software" tag, and only a few are asking "what program can do this" and should be migrated to the Software Recommendations site, which has a genealogy tag with 8 questions there, most of which look like they've been already migrated from our site. And if there is any way to undo all the software tag removals, that would be great.
    – lkessler
    Nov 7 '17 at 3:35
  • @lkessler I just took a quick look at the first 15 of those 44 and to me all but possibly 1 look like software-recommendations so I think ColeValleyGirl has done a great job with her tag choice. Migrating to another site is only an option for the 60 days after a question is asked. Undoing software tag removals is not possible, except by re-tagging back. I wish we had heard your concerns about losing this tag sooner but now that the re-tagging (which I agree with) has occurred I think the best way forward may be adjusting to it.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Nov 7 '17 at 6:47
  • @lkessler Can I suggest that the place to raise your points about software recommendations is the meta questions (already linked to) raised specifically to discuss that topic? It's a pity you've missed them before now, as it would have been helpful to get your input but we're all busy people.
    – user104
    Nov 7 '17 at 7:29
  • @PolyGeo Could the edits not simply be reverted to the previous version if that's the decision taken? However, I don't have the privileges to do so, and any retagging I do will have to be reviewed and approved again by somebody else.
    – user104
    Nov 7 '17 at 7:53
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    @lkessler ColeValleyGirl is right - we could rollback the edits on the individual questions if re-tagging was the only change made to them. I was thinking we'd need to go to the tag page. My belief is that the tagging scheme we are using today is superior to that in place a few weeks ago so my vote would be not to rollback.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Nov 7 '17 at 9:06
  • I'm happy with what the majority think. I'm just one opinion.
    – lkessler
    Nov 7 '17 at 16:05
  • @ColeValleyGirl - The comments were added to an answer to a four year old question. Those are very invisible. I may have noticed if the comments were added onto the question. I would have noticed if a new question was created, which would have been appropriate after 4 years. It could have referred back to the old question for context.
    – lkessler
    Nov 7 '17 at 16:16
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    Thanks for understanding - it can be hard to discern consensus around issues when Meta is quiet.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Nov 7 '17 at 21:50
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    I'm finding it a little weird that website recommendation questions are being grouped under the software-recommendations tag. This seems very unintuitive to me - what's the reasoning for that? That's not to say we need a website-recommendations tag, I'm just not sure software-recommendations is the correct name for the tag if it's to include things other than software
    – Harry V. Mod
    Nov 8 '17 at 4:47
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    @lkessler No worries -- we all have our moments...
    – user104
    Nov 8 '17 at 9:37
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    @HarryVervet the Software Recommendations Stack Exchange deals with the same "weirdness", by trying to distinguish web apps (as software) and websites (as content). While some of us are more software literate I think our users asking for recommendations just want to know whether they should try FindMyPast, Ancestry, Family Tree Maker, Scrivener, etc without always having a clear preference for a web, desktop or mobile solution. Blurring the seeking of web, desktop and mobile recommendations into software-recommendations is something I can easily live with on this site.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Nov 12 '17 at 2:18

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