This one is killing me. We get far too many electrical questions that don't specify the country. Can we permanently ban a tag, forcing the questioners to choose the appropriate regional tag?

electrical-NorthAmerica electrical-UK electrical-Europe electrical-MiddleEast ... electrical-NoRegion (as a synonym for the current electrical tag, to be deleted eventually)


4 Answers 4


I'm worried that this would create a lot of management overhead, and still not solve the specific problem. I see two solutions to the "no country provided" issue:

  1. Everyone can answer in reference to countries they know and identify that country in their answer. This way, anyone searching for the question in the future can see their local solution among the answers.

  2. Close questions without a country when that detail is needed and the questioner doesn't respond to requests for clarification. I'd give them a few days and then consider it NARQ since the question is incomplete. We can always reopen the question if someone returns sometime later with a clarification.

Once I can come up for air with my day job, I'm planing to extend the FAQ, and asking people to list their location is on my list of items.

  • It wouldn't solve the overall problem, but would certainly mitigate it in the area where mitigation is most needed. The idea is that it would be impossible to post an electrical question without a -region attached. Yes, they could still go -general, but they'd have to work at it. In that case, close, NARQ if they don't respond to a comment. Sep 21, 2012 at 16:13
  • @ChrisCudmore But how many regions will we end up with, and do we have enough people with experience in each? I think we also have a significant number of questions that aren't region specific, and we'll be relying on the question asker to put the region specific tag in vs the generic one when they may not know whether it's region specific.
    – BMitch Mod
    Sep 21, 2012 at 16:19
  • That's what we have to sort out (# regions) The second point is addressed by the tag suggestions. I start typing electrical, and a whole list of electrical-*** tags pop up. They'd be encouraged by the UI design to select the correct tag. As it sits right now, they're encouraged NOT to select a region. And it shows with the quality of questions. I'd be very happy if the electrical tag prompted an alert or other warning "It is recommended that you include your country in the question text when using the electrical tag" But that's a technical solution. Sep 21, 2012 at 16:42
  • 2
    Other problems: Tag overload on question tagging ("I just want to tag it electrical, but there are umpteen options!"); knowing what to choose requires more locale-awareness than many persons might have; and, as an answerer, it's harder to follow (mark as favorite/interesting) all electrical tags as more sprout up for each region. Sep 21, 2012 at 18:39
  • 1
    An interesting solution would be to tag user names with "flair" as in some Reddits with their national flag or language/country code. My sig might then read "- Jeremy W. Sherman (en-US)". On /r/sweden, this provides some useful context. There are times here where the speaker is not a native English speaker, but their English is so good (or they edited their post hard enough) that I can't tell, so they might have trouble understanding a more colloquial response. Sep 21, 2012 at 18:41

I would not like to see the tag blacklisted, since as Chrisf says, there are situations where generic applies.

I wouldn't oppose having regional based tags, however. Possibly some core region tags like US, UK, etc. and then synonyms for them like "electrical-uk", "electrical-us", "plumbing-us", "plumbing-uk", which would show up when they typed "elec..." but really mean region.

  • Why not electrical-general? The idea being that if the electrical tag is blacklisted, users will be forced to pick the correct tag. They can choose e-g, but they'll have to work at it. Sep 21, 2012 at 15:36
  • Sure. The same can apply for plumbing-general as well... though I suppose plumbing is less regional in nature to some degree. Sep 21, 2012 at 15:50
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    I'm not so sure it's necessary for plumbing. Perhaps a pilot on electrical, and do plumbing later if necessary. Sep 21, 2012 at 15:54

We can certainly get a tag blacklisted.

We would have to go through all of the questions - all 689 of them retagging as appropriate before the tag could be blacklisted.

Though I'm not sure of the benefit of this. There are questions - this recent one for example:

How do I install electrical through "new work" stucco?

that are independent of the country.

  • I'd be willing to tackle the retagging, it would take some time, but it's still manageable. Perhaps electrical-general would be appropriate for exactly the question you specified. Sep 21, 2012 at 15:19
  • @ChrisCudmore - fair enough. We just need consensus on what to replace them with.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Sep 21, 2012 at 15:32
  • Let the question sit for a week or so, and see if we can get a consensus Sep 21, 2012 at 15:34

I think one of the problems with this is that it's not actually getting to the root reason for why it might make sense to regonalize the tags.

@NiallC referred me from a related answer I gave, where the question was originally about clarifying 120V/60hz vs 230V/50hz etc without being overly technical for users that may not understand voltage/frequency (considering how many people don't realize that "110", "115" and "120" are really all the same system).

It seems like generally local code questions are off topic (though being debated), and I'd suggest we keep that discussion out of these tags (there could be different tags for code questions, if we go there).

So if we scope this as changing the tags to better identify technical need (eg. voltages), then I'd like to see us add regions based on voltage/frequency, for the specific reason that knowing the voltage/electrical system in use is often critically important to answering electrical questions.

I also agree with the user experience aspect here: you start typing "electrical" and get the high-level regions to naturally choose from, and are implicitly telling us the voltage without having to know.

For plumbing or HVAC, I'm not sure there are such differences that can be identified regionally (maybe instead based on climate?). I can't even think of any other topics that may need this amount of categorization -- but if there is a need I'd suggest we deal with them based on the technical difference, rather than adding a region for the sake of adding a region.

*: That said, we COULD add a whole tag hierarchy for identifying the region, but getting people to use it will be tough, and it may not even be useful. At least as a separate set of tags, it can apply (or not apply) to any and all topics, and we can be as specific or broad as needed without having to affect electrical-*, plumbing-* etc tags.

  • Even if code questions are off-topic, there's still lots of other stuff that depends on region - colour codes, what type of service the average house has, terminology (TPS vs Romex/NM, GFCI/RCD) etc. Apr 6, 2016 at 1:39

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