After Steven's question on ssms I was poking around in the tags and realized that query is a synonym for sql. This was done in 2012 and since then there has been, if nothing else, a large increase in the proliferation of NoSQL and other non-SQL based database engines.

Since document based engines are still queried against, but often don't use SQL in the strict sense, should we break out the query tag for use cases where a user is asking for help querying data from something like a MongoDB database? Or just remove it altogether?

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    query seems far too generic to be useful as a tag in any case. Is there a code tag on Stack Overflow? Sure, not every data-related question involves an explicit query, but it still doesn't seem specific enough to be useful.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Apr 30, 2018 at 18:45
  • That seems fair. I'm more concerned about the lack of synonym-ity than anything else. Apr 30, 2018 at 19:13
  • @AaronBertrand When this came up for discussion last, the majority view was that query was useful for people looking for questions about solving a query-writing problem. I didn't share that view particularly, but it was pretty strongly held amongst the Heap regulars.
    – Paul White Mod
    May 1, 2018 at 1:26

2 Answers 2



The only justification for the synonym I could find was in the answer to Why is "query" a suggested synonym for "sql"?:

Simply because when the site was young, we repeatedly had folks posting questions about "query" when they really meant "help me with my sql" and don't understand the esoteric differences of the description of higher order math and the relations of sets.

..which seems less than compelling.

The current excerpt says:

Structured Query Language (SQL). For questions about the language, not Microsoft SQL Server (tag sql-server).

For the (hard to locate) excerpt is:

Writing queries to request or change information stored in a database or other information management system. Questions should include table and index definitions, sample data, expected output, and a tag for the specific system (e.g. MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, MongoDB).

That seems different enough that the synonym ought to be broken.

There are other questions around the usefulness/usage of both tags, but those are separate issues that we should discuss, er, separately.

Other (somewhat) related Q & A:



Please dear god, burninante this. No one will object.

There are lot's of queries that are not sql, but if they're not sql they're something else that should have it's own tag like (for neo4j), or for the W3C method to query XML.

Further ranting

Actually to be totally honest, I think we should burninante sql too and break up the queries into

  • sql-select
  • sql-update
  • sql-delete
  • sql-insert
  • sql-merge

sql is a stupid tag too; and query is insane.

  • A lot of questions might max fast on tags if they're dealing with multiple query types. What about removing the guidance for ansi-sql being only about the standards themselves and using it to capture generic sql that may not be t-sql or pl-sql specifically Apr 30, 2018 at 19:20
  • @LowlyDBA I think that would be a bad idea, because we need a tag about the spec itself. Not to mention, why not just have extra-specificity? 95% of the questions on the site can be tagged sql that's not all that useful. t-sql is also a really silly idea, since it's essentially just [sql] and [sql-server]. I mean, if PostgreSQL called their stuff pg-sql and you wanted to ask a question on a SELECT syntax, I think [postgresql] and [sql-select] would be more useful than [sql] [select] [postgresql] and [pg-sql] Apr 30, 2018 at 19:25
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    You've sold me on it, that might work better. Apr 30, 2018 at 19:37
  • 3
    I agree with a lot of what you have said but -1 on balance for the rest. [t-sql] is not essentially [sql] and [sql-server] (certainly not from the pov of Google — tags are search terms), and I think [sql-*] tags would be worse not better then the useless [sql] tag. Apr 30, 2018 at 20:14
  • @JackDouglas could you explain any of that? In what aspect is t-sql not just the Microsoft SQL Server implementation of SQL? And don't you think that it's awkward that StackOverflow has more specificity with sub-tags than Database Administrators: for instance, stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/sql-insert Apr 30, 2018 at 20:21
  • "In what aspect is t-sql not just the Microsoft SQL Server implementation of SQL" it's a procedural language. SO is SO is SO. Apr 30, 2018 at 21:02
  • @JackDouglas maybe I don't understand what tsql is myself? Is this tsql or sql? dba.stackexchange.com/q/205318/2639 The tag wiki for t-sql says "Transact-SQL (T-SQL) is a dialect of SQL used by Microsoft SQL Server and SAP's Sybase." Is it a dialect (implementation) of SQL, or a procedural language (pl)? Apr 30, 2018 at 21:08
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    It's really hard to vote on this answer because I broadly agree with the first part (though the details are tricky) but disagree with the 'further ranting' (we already have those tags without the sql- prefix).
    – Paul White Mod
    May 1, 2018 at 1:23
  • 1
    "Is it a dialect (implementation) of SQL, or a procedural language (pl)?" stackoverflow.com/a/1043290/6854914 is a useful summary though some of the other answers are worth reading too, as is the Wikipedia page. tldr; t-sql is not just a dialect of SQL, but also a (somewhat rudimentary) procedural language. May 1, 2018 at 12:55

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