Quite a number of questions get asked that amount to "why doesn't this code work." Some of these can and should be quickly clarified in the comments and closed as "a simple mistake" but many might reasonably be answered.

I wonder how these should be tagged if they are not about e.g. Plotting but about basic Mathematica programming itself.

  • should be reserved for non-trival programming as the tag description says
  • is for "Questions about debugging techniques" not "please help me fix my code."
  • is intended for review of style and improvement of already functioning code

What tag should we use so as not to dilute the content of tags such as those described above?

  • In this related Q&A, it seems there was no consensus whether such "meta-tags" are really needed. I don't really see a problem with a beginners tag - it does't have to be taken as having a negative connotation. But if tags are supposed to reflect subject matter, it won't work.
    – Jens
    Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 4:50
  • @Jens I disagree with the idea that a "broken code" tag (which I'm leaning toward) is a meta tag. It is not like "beginner" or "basic" in that it can be objectively applied, and it does describe the content of the question.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 7:08
  • @Mr.Wizard I think what Jens is trying to say is that while "broken code" does describe the content, it is not useful as a categorization term (i.e., one you would use to search). For instance, I have no idea what one would search for under broken-code... Broken codes are usually localized, and as you say, the simple mistakes/doc lookups, etc. should be closed quickly. But for the ones worth keeping, there must be something else that describes what's broken or what the OP's trying to do, that we could perhaps use to tag the question.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 15:21

2 Answers 2


Since no one has a suggestion I like better I'll propose my own:

I think this reasonably describes the general class of questions, is not disparaging, is objective, and should be reasonably easy to find (broken seem a pretty natural, and common, way to describe the issue.)

  • 1
    "Broken" somehow implies that the code was already working at some point, does it not?
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:58
  • @Yves That's a good point. I don't know. Actually now I'm curious about the word broken itself.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 13:22
  • 1
    "Dysfunctional" perhaps also carries too much baggage ;-)
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 13:39
  • "Not-working" - could refer to code or poster, depending on who's doing the interpreting.
    – cormullion
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 7:56
  • @Yves I asked about broken on English Language & Usage and so far the only answer supports my use as valid.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 8:01
  • 1
    hmmm... I am not really qualified to judge on that. Still, if something is broken, it must have been whole at some point, no? Adding to dysfunctional (which I like because it sounds like something is seriously wrong) I would propose kaput (or correctly kaputt) to add some polyglot spice.
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 16:25
  • "Functionality," if untaken perhaps. Bit generic, though.
    – Ghersic
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 19:30

No, requires user to be familiar with American literature.

No, they too often think they do.

Famous (incorrect) quote but the meaning is clear.

Might work.

Peanut's Charlie Brown's cry of frustration

Semi-serious proposal.

We have a recent post right now where the poster used and , neither of which was relevant to his real problem.


Inspired by this Meta topic, I added . Might help with some of the questions in the class Mr.Wizard is concerned with.

  • I think it's a given that the question won't start out tagged appropriately. The question becomes what do we re-tag it with?
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 5:53
  • I took the freedom to add another fun tag to your list
    – halirutan Mod
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 18:00
  • Buggrit, millennium hand and shrimp!
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 17:47
  • Or, fishing.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 15:41

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