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Jason C. McDonald
Jason C. McDonald

Posted on • Updated on

Updated #opensource Tag Guidelines

Updated 8 April 2020

The #opensource tag is awesome, but it's also been lacking a lot of focus. Is it for promoting projects? Talking about open source? Posting lists of the top 20 open source Javascript modules? It's hard to tell.

In a way, because the lion's share of our technologies, libraries, tools, and projects are open source, nearly everything qualified for this tag before. It was becoming our site's junk drawer as it were - lots of nifty and useful stuff, but no semblance of organization to any of it.

Since rolled out Listings, I'm taking the opportunity to narrow the tag focus a bit. The goal is to give the #opensource tag clear topic boundaries, so Following it doesn't lead to a bunch of irrelevant posts leaking into your feed.

New Guidelines

I've updated the tag guidelines, but I wanted to lay out the changes here.

  • Posts promoting a single project should go on Listings, or on #showdev or #news if it qualifies.

  • Posts using or mentioning one or more open source projects should go on the appropriate tags for the relevant languages and technologies. This includes tutorials, "round ups", guides, comparisons, reviews, and the like. These typically land in #opensource, and are the main reason for the tag clutter.

  • Announcements relating to your awesome project, including new features, releases, versions, and the like, should go on #news or Listings, or should be expanded out into a proper article (tutorial, maybe?) and posted on the appropriate technology tags.

  • Open source contributor requests should go on #contributorswanted or Listings.

  • If you're just bursting with pride at something you built, use the #showdev tag instead.

  • "Roundups" and other lists of cool open source projects belong on #githunt.

What Changed?

All this mainly means the #opensource tag is no longer valid merely if the project(s) being discusses happen to be open source!

To put that another way, here's a few theoretical topics which would have been #opensource material before, but aren't now.

  • "Top 10 Open Source Python Data Modules" (#python)
  • "My Awesome Data Visualizer in Go" (#go, #showdev)
  • "Looking for contributors to Supercoolproject" (Listings or #contributorswanted)
  • "What I did on my Perl project this week" (#perl, #devjournal, possibly #showdev)
  • "Installing Epictool on Ubuntu" (#ubuntu)
  • "5 Open Source Alternatives to AWS" (#cloud)

What SHOULD It Be?

Articles in this tag should be about at least one of these three broad topics:

  • Organizing, managing, running, contributing to, or working in an Open Source project.

  • Open Source philosophy, licensing, and/or practical and legal topics thereof.

  • Advocacy and adoption of Open Source philosophy.


#foss and #freesoftware have been aliased over to #opensource (thanks @michaeltharrington!) and the tag info updated to account for that. I know that Free Software is culturally distinct from Open Source, but as the former is always compliant to a subset of the latter, having one tag for all just makes sense.

Guideline Enforcement

I won't be applying this to any posts before July 17th 2019 (retroactive guidelines just aren't fair).

If the #opensource tag is used incorrectly in new posts, I'll remove it and provide a friendly reminder, along with suggestions on better tags to use. I know it'll take a while to get used to the updated rules, so don't worry if you miss it a few dozen times.

Top comments (7)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Well thought out Jason.

I'll be following along. We'll have some more easily accessible tag guidelines adjacent to the editor coming soon so folks can understand the instructions without being caught off guard by doing it wrong.

As more folks define their guidelines, my biggest worry is what a lot of forums become when mods are overbearing. So I'm glad this is well thought out and well described.

@michaeltharrington let's Jason well with this and we'll coordinate on functionality that needs to ship.

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

Agreed! This is very well thought out. I think this tag will definitely benefit from more focus.

Jason, feel free to hit me up if you need a hand with anything. I'm happy to help!

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Thanks, Michael and Ben!

_bigblind profile image
Frederik πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»βž‘οΈπŸŒ Creemers

I think the #githunt tag is also relevant here. Looking at some of its recent posts, it could also use some enforcement of its guidelines.

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald • Edited

Y'know, they're always looking for more tag moderators, and I agree that #githunt needs some love. Maybe that'd be something you'd be good at? (Contact if you're interested.)

nanohard profile image
William Antonelli

This is a list of what not to use the tag for. Can you give some examples of what we would use it for? I think that would be easier to understand.

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

No problem. From the tag info:

To keep this tag clean and meaningful, please ensure your post fits into at least one of the following categories:

* Organizing, managing, running, or working in an Open Source project.

* Open Source philosophy, licensing, and/or practical and legal topics thereof.

* Advocacy and adoption of Open Source technology.

I'll add that to the post.