I have a brilliant idea...I think.

We have extremely commonly asked duplicates/near-duplicates. Examples include:

  • Basic procedures for replacing receptacles - this already has a post, now tagged .
  • EV charging basics - EVSE vs. plug-in travel charger/receptacle, charging rates (with the obligatory Technology Connections video link), load sharing, etc.
  • Subpanel in another building - panel size, feed size, disconnect/main breaker, load calculation, ground rods, etc.

and I can see some indirectly asked questions that could really use a post with detailed information:

  • Breaker/panel information - Show a sample of each of the major past and present panel types (Square D QO, Square D HOM, Eaton BR, Eaton CH, GE, Siemens, Zinsco, FPE, etc.) including lineage (as it relates to breaker replacements) and known dangers (whether panel design, breakers or both). Also include information about UL Classified breakers.

The problem with Harper's original post of this type is that it is extremely hard to find. That is why I am suggesting a new and easy to remember tag specifically for this purpose. Open a new tab, search for , post the link into a question you are answering or, when appropriate, use it as a duplicate target.

In response to BMitch's reference to a site-wide policy regarding meta-tags. I hear you. I see the problem. But we have a problem here and this is the best solution I could come up with that has a near-term reasonable chance of working. The ideal solution would be some form of "Article". That is a thing now on StackOverflow. But as far as I can tell:

  • You need to be part of a Collective (what????) to post an Article
  • Collectives, and therefore Articles, are not an option on the secondary sites such as DIY
  • The Articles I found actually had a tag, which only works inside Articles - search for it in regular Q&A and you don't find the Articles! Plus sounds as "meta" as .

Is this an ideal solution? No. But in the absence of higher-level support, the secondary sites have to make the system work however they can. I think one tag (and it could have some other name, is just what came to mind this week) clearly used and understood could go a long way towards solving some persistent issues here.

Ecnerwal tagged the excavator question and I have tagged one about same-building subpanels. I made my answer to the subpanel question Community Wiki to encourage a collaborative effort.

  • Or something what Ubuntu forums do. When asking a question they supply a list of similar type questions that might answer yours, before you post your question. It is not perfect, but gives you time to think.
    – crip659
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 14:59
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    The problem is that (a) new StackExchange users don't understand the duplicate process and more importantly (b) new DIY people (or a new to them type of project) have no idea what to look for. That's why we end up with people asking about what size of wire for 60A when they should be asking "What should I install to charge my new car?" Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 15:20
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    That is why checking what Ubuntu forums does would be good. The list of past questions comes up as you are writing the question before posting. There is not much thinking/searching required by the poster. It probably does count on the right key words being used in the question.
    – crip659
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 15:28
  • @crip659 There is some suggestion of duplicates when writing a question in SE. It works marginally well when the user understands the concept, and when the user has speled things corectly and knows what their talking about with reciptacles and fuses and 110 stuf. We can't change the habits of new users until after they have become regular users. We can't improve the functionality of how SE works - even really simple things take years, if ever, to get done. Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 15:47
  • I am proposing this as a way to partially solve a persistent problem. Harper's idea years ago was a great one - I think the key missing piece was discoverability. I think this tag - once all the "regulars" know about it - is a way to solve discoverability - not for the new users themselves but at least so that when we are answering the questions we can either easily assign duplicates or use these posts as substitutes for long repeated "essay answers". Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 15:47
  • There's a general policy against meta tags in SE: stackoverflow.blog/2010/08/07/the-death-of-meta-tags
    – BMitch Mod
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 12:47
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    If SE's own search feature worked a bit better (maybe even half as well as google manages to index & search SE sites) then there'd probably be less of an incentive to create & use meta tags ...
    – brhans
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 13:06
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    Accessibility protip: Never link "here".
    – isherwood
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 20:27
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    This is an excellent idea, and should be instituted. Commented Jan 20 at 19:08

2 Answers 2


Since it doesn't seem that we're going to head down this path, I'd like to offer the solution I've developed:

I have saved some of these canonical posts to my "saved" list. When something like this comes up, I browse through the saved questions, find the appropriate one, and share the link in the comments something along the lines of [Required reading on this topic](link to Harper's Q&A).

This will at least give the OP a link to go read up. Maybe, just maybe (s)he'll realize that the answer is in that other castle and close his own question with an acknowledgement. Or, perhaps, edit the question to address info learned from reading it.

I also have a text file with some predefined comments (especially those with links to help center topics), and I've considered writing some of these canonical comment links up and saving them in my note file under easy to find titles.



You can't ask a question about "canonical". There aren't experts in "canonical". It's a meta tag, not a real tag.

It is admirable to try to make these references more discoverable (especially so they can be used to close duplicates) but abusing the tag system in a way that has been explicitly forbidden for over 13 years now is not the way to do it.

  • But why? Just because we haven't before? We have a persistent problem of discoverability. And just searching for duplicates as Close targets - or letting SE search for us to provide suggestions - doesn't work. Too often the results are questions that are not close enough or don't have very good answers. And often we need a reference as a partial answer: I want to put in a subpanel....I want to charge my EV...etc. - and a good reference answer can answer 90% very thoroughly leaving the remaining 10% to be answered specifically. Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 23:53
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    Besides, there is an expert in "canonical", Harper! Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 23:56
  • I'm not disagreeing that it is useful for these questions to be discoverable, but abusing the tag system is a very specifically forbidden way is not appropriate. Have you bothered to read the post? We have had meta tags on sites before, they didn't work out, they got outlawed.
    – nobody
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 0:33
  • Tags are supposed to be about actual subject-matter topics. "canonical" is not a topic. It cannot stand alone. A person cannot ask a question about "canonical". A person answering multiple canonical questions does not make them an expert in "canonical" because it's not a topic. I don't think you're making that argument in good faith.
    – nobody
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 0:35
  • The Harper comment was just a joke. But I still think a very limited number of meta tags can work to our advantage. An alternative is "Articles", but as I understand it, that is not an actual option for us to use. And the problem is a real one. Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 1:01
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    That post says NOTHING about "forbidden"! It says, "From this point on, meta-tagging is explicitly discouraged." There is a huge difference between "Forbidden" and "Discouraged". If a particular community sees fit to use a meta-tag in a way that is useful to that community (and I think the [cannonical] tag can be quite useful for this community), then I believe that it makes sense for that community to use it.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 5 at 19:15

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