I just read this post and realized the reference to the "it-depends" tag in it.

I asked myself what might such a tag be useful for, and checked out what questions are asked with this tag, just to realize it was just created to work as a style element in that specific answer.

Is it ok to use tags for this purpose?


Breaking this down into two parts:

Is it ok to create new tags, just to use them as fancy inline items?

No, it is not. In fact, there is a considerable amount of time spent on Meta.CodeReview to do tag clean-up and maintenance, including eliminating unnecessary tags (and synonymizing redundant ones). If an tag was created, chances are it would get noticed and deleted quite fast, as you can imagine it would be hard to actually put a meaningful description to it, let alone find which questions it would best apply to.

Is it OK to use tags to work as style elements?

Well, technically, no and yes. No, because it's kind of abusing an otherwise useful feature just for the purpose of formatting style, or sometimes perhaps humor or something like that. The same effect could be achieved using plain text, perhaps with emphasis, e.g., it depends. On the other hand, it is mostly harmless, besides the occasional confusion, so there is not that much incentive to "fix it".

Hope this helps to clarify things.

PS: I went ahead and edited my answer to remove the non-tag tag formatting :-)

  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ It's a bit like using code formatting for emphasis: it's wrong, but it's not forbidden. But it's wrong nonetheless. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 24 '16 at 14:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mat'sMug Or for quotes: You have surely seen a quote like (He said what he said.) In comments, it should have been italics instead: (He said what he said.) (note: opinion) \$\endgroup\$
    – EKons
    Aug 27 '16 at 14:26

That mentioned tag isn't a real tag. Its just some mark down magic done like so



Tags can only be created when tagging a question, so any "tag" you see anywhere is nothing more than a fancy-formatted link.

Stack Exchange markdown such as [tag:tag-name] is handy for linking to a page listing questions tagged with or or , or meta tags like [meta-tag:featured], linking to questions tagged as such on the meta site.

On the main site (and meta), use it for real, existing tags.

There are other, more semantically correct ways to emphasize things in a post.

Meanwhile, in a chatroom near you...

"Tag-speak" is a form of emphasis often used by chat regulars; using tag-formatting for emphasis is part of SE chat culture, as evidenced by chatroom tags themselves, which can link to real actual tags, but most often don't:

tags of The 2nd Monitor

tags of VBA Rubberducking

tags of the Nth Monitor

tags of Cardshifter and other projects

So the real question would be, is it okay for chat culture to "leak" onto the main site?

While all chat regulars are CR users, not all CR users are chat regulars; let's keep chat culture in chat, and an all-inclusive culture on the main site.


Why create tags? You can use them anyways!

But, they must follow tag rules!

[tag:this cannot be a tag!]

[meta-tag:this cannot be a meta-tag!]

No, it's not OK to create tags just for styling reasons for that one post that will ever contain them. You can use them anyways.

Tags are created by asking a question with the tag, for tagging questions.


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