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I've noticed a recent retagging/tag creation push where Brent Ozar added tags to questions about scripts released/maintained by his consulting company. Is this appropriate behavior? If so should we retag/create tags for Ola's scripts and so on for various GitHub repositories/collections?

To be clear I appreciate the hard work that is involved in creating, supporting, and maintaining community resources. I'm just not sure every named script justifies a tag. At the same time several of these questions are support type issues so the tag may be justified...

What is the community's consensus?


YperSillyCubeTM pointed out that there already was some relevant discussion in chat that I was unaware of when I posted this question.

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Brent here. Here were my thoughts behind it:

There were already questions about sp_Blitz and sp_BlitzIndex here. There's also lots of questions & answers that happen to mention those scripts, but I don't think it's right to tag a question with a script name just because it happens to mention the script. The question needs to be about the script, which these were.

There's an SO meta question about this, and it indicates that yes, it's okay.

I already participate in DBA.se, but I can't monitor every sql-server tag. If people were going to use DBA.se as support for our scripts, I wanted to be here to answer. Like the SO meta answer says, the developers (me, heh) have to have an active presence on the site. Having the tag lets me monitor the questions effectively - I've already started piping 'em into our company Slack room so we can jump in quickly to help.

I want out of Uservoice. We're currently using Uservoice for support, and...it's awful. Terrible. The support requests are private, and that goes against everything I stand for as a community guy and blogger. If I'm going to put work into answering questions for folks, I want the answers to be public and well-SEO'd so that other folks can find the answer faster. I already refuse to answer private SQL Server questions (unless it's a client) - I've been steering people to DBA.se for years, and I realized I should do the same for sp_Blitz questions too.

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In my opinion, tagging questions provides valuable insight into the content of the question without actually needing to read the entire question. Essentially, the tag is a very short TL;DR.

Having tags with script-names, especially for well-known scripts, is useful since it helps directly identify those questions to the developers/maintainers of those scripts.

I'm of the opinion Stack Exchange should be happy these developers are willing to support their users here, since it continues to bring traffic.

  • So should we wait for the owner/maintainer to create the tag before we start tagging the questions, or take a "If you build it they will come" stance by tagging before the owner/maintainer shows an active interest? After all Paul White mentioned in chat that an Ola related tag was nixed by the community in the past. – Erik Jan 8 '16 at 18:02
  • Yah, I saw the chat about that earlier today; although I missed the chat about Ola's product. I would expect tags to be created in the same way whether they are product-related or not. If you want to create a tag for a product/script, go ahead. It can always be edited or removed later. – Max Vernon Jan 8 '16 at 18:36
  • this question would seem to be an example of a script-tag not being useful, once the cause of the problem was realized... I still think it might have been useful for Ola to see, if he's interested in make a change to his script. – Max Vernon Jan 8 '16 at 18:43
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    Yeah, tagging the question also lets us (Brent Ozar & crew) be alerted when there's a support question about our work. I looked for sp_Blitz questions this morning out of curiosity, and I felt horrible that people had looked for support - and I hadn't been here. Adding the tag lets me (the code author) pitch in here to help. I can't patrol every sql-server tagged question, unfortunately. – Brent Ozar Jan 8 '16 at 19:17
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I think using the SE network as support for an open-source-ish product is an interesting concept. Since the code isn't private, if each person asking questions about the code were to simply post the code itself saying "here's my query, why does X happen?", would there be a reluctance to answer the questions?

I think having tags to support this simply allows those interested in working on that focus to answer what they like and ignore the rest.

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I've noticed a recent retagging/tag creation push where Brent Ozar added tags to questions about scripts released/maintained by his consulting company.

Regarding tag creation in general, from the Stack Exchange FAQ:

Can we please have the [foo] tag on our site?

If you have enough reputation to create the tag, and if you think there is a clear need for a tag, go ahead and create it yourself. If the new tag causes controversy, you can always come back to your site's meta to ask the community to judge it.

This leads in to your question:

Is this appropriate behavior?

It rather depends on what you mean by "this". I'll try to cover the main interpretations:

  • Adding a new tag is certainly fine in general, as it says above.
  • Retagging many questions all in one go can be disruptive (flooding the home page with the bumped questions) but I don't think the effect was excessive on this occasion.
  • Regarding the link to his company, that is more interesting, and the reason I suggested Brent ask on meta about this idea. It seems your question pre-empted this. I hope it doesn't dissuade Brent from asking that question, even though his answer here probably covers it.

To be clear I appreciate the hard work that is involved in creating, supporting, and maintaining community resources. I'm just not sure every named script justifies a tag. If so should we retag/create tags for Ola's scripts and so on for various GitHub repositories/collections?

As I said in chat, I don't think allowing this for and has to set a binding precedent. We have Meta so we can disucss and decide, as a community, what's acceptable on a case by case basis.

  • I should have checked on the Heap before posting this Meta question. If I would have done that first then I never would have posed the question. By this I was referring to the link to his company. I can see how that would be helpful, but I hadn't seen it done before. I understand this question doesn't have to be a binding precedent, but it does show the general mood/acceptance of this practice. As a take away from this question I'll consider adding a tag for the specific script in the future. Adding a tag for a specific script wasn't something I'd have considered before. – Erik Jan 16 '16 at 2:32
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Personally I don't fancy being first line support for a third party in this forum.

One thing going for this is the fact that it's a pure standard SQL Server script and it's completely free and open source.

I don't oppose the sp_blitz* script questions around here but we shouldn't be the support forum for random tools in my opinion.

With as much respect as I have for Brent, and as much as I agree on supporting his tools, we can't afford supporting 100 of these things.

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    Nothing is forcing you to provide answers. If you don't want to or cannot provide an answer to what you perceive as "technical support", just move along to the next question. – Max Vernon Jan 8 '16 at 20:42
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    I'm not sure I understand "can't afford" - are you answering questions in every single tag? Surely there are tags and entire tag families you ignore? Given our question volume in comparison to, say, SO, I'm not sure how this is a problem. I also don't understand what negative effect it has whether a question about a specific SQL Server script is tagged with the name of the script or not. The question is still going to exist, the tag there doesn't have any downside to me, but there is tremendous upside to Brent and to others with the same or similar questions about the script. – Aaron Bertrand Jan 9 '16 at 15:12
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    @AaronBertrand I was thinking about "moving the support forum here" more than the tagging question (as discussed in chat). Where do you draw the line about what tool/product should move their support forum here? Can I move our company's helpdesk here if I promise our employees will keep an eye on it? – Tom V Jan 9 '16 at 16:37
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    @Tom I think there's a big difference between asking for help about a script that is freely available to the community (which can potentially help many other people in the community) and helping your co-worker get his domain password reset (which can only ever possibly help people at your company). – Aaron Bertrand Jan 9 '16 at 16:47

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