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I feel our tags for microcomputers are not consistent. Some tags include the manufacturer & model such as or . Others do not, such as for the Amstrad CPC range, , and . Some tags include the manufacturer by necessity, such as or , where the model number alone would be ambiguous. Others, such as seem less clear-cut. It would be helpful to ensure there are guidelines which could be used to create new tags, or to ensure that tags remain helpful as the site grows.

My own view is the manufacturer generally improves clarity, and is rarely redundant. would avoid a future collision with any other device or company which uses the three letter prefix CPC, and is unproblemmatic.

An alternative would be to strip off all manufacturers except where essential, or have some guide where a tag needs to be contain at least four (non-numeric) letters to stand without the manufacturer.

As discussed here, we shouldn't be using manufacturer tags on their own to refer to machines either, unless there is no model-specific tag yet.

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    It's worth noting that some computers have multiple manufacturers, notably among your examples, the Spectrum which was manufactured by Amstrad in the later stages and I believe carried both Sinclair and Amstrad names on them. – hippietrail May 17 at 22:06
  • @hippietrail Amstrad did own Sinclair and manufacture ZX Spectrums, but I cannot find any evidence of the name Amstrad on the Sinclair Spectrum +3 case or packaging. – Mark Williams May 18 at 6:55
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    Oh I think you're right. I'm not sure I've ever seen a real one and I've probably seen to many photos online of Amstrads and +3 recently and mixed the images up in my brain. Sorry about that. – hippietrail May 18 at 13:35
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Any inclusion of manufacturers should only be done if necessary. Otherwise it needs to be kept to the computer/model. There are essentially only two (and a half) cases where including a manufacturer name is helpful:

  1. If the model name/descriptor is not unique on its own. Examples are

    • numbers like 2, 64 or 400 which are rather meaningless without company (or family) name, here Apple-2, C(ommodore)-64 and Atari-400
    • generic terms are used, like PC, in IBM-PC, EuroPC and Apricot-PC
  2. If it is about a model of a specific manufacturer, distinguished from otherwise compatible machines, like when a question is about specific details of an Apple II or Spectrum clone (*1)

The 'half' one is about names that have become household names, i.e. when a name became independent of the company/Brand, like IBM-PC does stand for a whole linage of machines including even lesser compatible clones.

As a rule of thump, basic tags should be made the same way one would talk about that computer, so Spectrum, C64, Amiga, etc.

Examples were including company names is harmful:

  • Amstrad-CPC - it'll exclude anyone looking for information about a Schneider CPC (*2)
  • Commodore-Amiga - Amiga is not only distinctive on it's own, such a tag would as well not include all Amiga made after Commodore (*3).
  • Sinclair-ZX-Spectrum - What about all clones and more or less compatibles, contemporary or later on? (*4)

The first example shows perfect the problems about being an international forum, and not a splendid UK-only venue, while the last highlights the effect of vastly successful machines with one leader and many follow ups. Each related but not really calling for a tab of their own. Including the company-Name without need will expel them and reduce usability.

Tags need to be as inclusive as useful. This is because our tag system isn't a Taxonomy with the goal to give each and every item it's own category to distinct them as detailed as possible (like in biology), but to group questions of related topics, being not too specific. It's usage is to allow someone searching for a question to narrow it down a search using rather fuzzy tags. After all, the regular search function does already provide a full text retrieval. So if a question (or answer) contains a certain part - like a company name, it'll be found anyway. Similar for model names. Adding synonymus tags doesn't add any value to RC.SE - except adding a long list of tags at the end of a question.

Adding a tag flood just to be 'exact' doesn't help, but damages usability.

I know it's easy, especially for IT Folks, to fall into a rush of detailed naming and classification. I got the same urge. Still its better to fight that and put usability above architectural finesse.


*1 - This is a narrow path, as such clones usually do not have (and don't need) a tag of their own due too little number of questions.

*2 - Yes, there are quite some old time CPC users whose English is good enough to read RC.SE and still don't know that they need to search for the Amstrad tag when it's about their beloved Schneider.

*3 - But given, Commodore is kind of a grey area here as later companies (and users) loved to identify themself with the name. Just think the TheC64 sales hype.

*4 - Fun remark here: In East Germany spectrum clones were made and even promoted by state media, but neither Sinclair nor the Spectrum name was ever used. Instead they mentioned the systems only to 'Industry Standard Compatible Home Computers' :)

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    This is all valid, though it leaves apple-macintosh and sega-genesis as anomalies. I do resent the implication that I might be an IT folk. 😉 – Mark Williams May 15 at 19:21
  • @MarkWilliams Your will to resist is marvellous. I have given up long ago😉 And yes, they are anomalies, much like the mentioned IBM-PC or Amiga. A 'soft' system will always carry items were people have different opinions (heck, even for biological taxonomy countless naming wars are recorded). In the end, I think the most relevant criteria should be how it's called in everyday communication - and divert only if really necessary (I for example see no reason to distinguish the various spectrum systems. At most a line between the original and 128 follow ups - the rest are configirations) – Raffzahn May 15 at 19:32
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    Oh are you talking about the sega-megadrive? I like neat tags but I like pragmatic tags even better. @Raffzahn There is never a need to "search for" a tag, as typing any part of it brings up all matches, a form of autocomplete. Typing "CPC" in the tag field immediately brings up "Amstrad CPC" for instance. This does not stop people from creating redundant tags of course because people. – hippietrail May 17 at 22:19
  • @hippietrail for one, what you're talking about is entering a tag, not serching for questions containing one - like klicking on a tag. – Raffzahn May 17 at 22:47
  • @Raffzahn: I was replying to they need to search for the Amstrad tag. Maybe you were talking about searching for a tag mentally to think up what to call a new one then?? – hippietrail May 18 at 1:26
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    @hippietrail I'm talking about some vistors who looks for information about a problem he has, thus trying to find stuff related to his problem by using tags. Yes, I know, it may sound hopelessly naive to assume that people do (re)search forst instead of just keying there quesion in as a new question and let others do the work of finding duplicates, but that's the way I am. – Raffzahn May 18 at 1:34
  • I can only find two Spectrum clones called by that name, the Decibells Spectrum+, and the Inves Spectrum 48k plus, whereas Timex produced 2 with the Sinclair name, the 'Sinclair 2048' and 'Sinclair 2068'. So sinclair-zx-spectrum would in fact include more clones than zx-spectrum – Mark Williams May 18 at 17:16
  • @MarkWilliams True. And that's exactly the reason why Spectrum clones should be able to be tagged as Spectrum, regardless of the name - how else could they grouped? After all, problems people encounter tend to be tied to the technology used, not the name, and be similar across multiple members of that linage.So having a common tag ist useful to find information regardless of manufacturer, brand or model name. – Raffzahn May 18 at 19:17
  • I have upvoted your answer to keep the scores even, but I can't accept either on the basis of such a small response. – Mark Williams Jul 7 at 20:30
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    @MarkWilliams Cool. Then again, there is no reason to accept either. Meta is about opinion, and there is almost never a 'right' or a 'wrong' opinion. It's about collecting what people think ans see if there's a majority opinion - or none, which is as well a relevant result. Accepting an answer in meta is merely an oddity due the fact that it uses the same system as the main site. And I would suggest to abstain - much as with downvoting. – Raffzahn Jul 7 at 20:42
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As stated in the question, I believe that we should include manufacturers in all tags where possible, such as (non-exhaustive list):

I am aware that the nes has a redundancy in the acronym! Existing tags would be renamed to fit this scheme.

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