We love . Maybe, too much. So much that we've got 125 questions in the tag! What more? We've got 13 tags dedicated to license related stuff. Sounds like a little much. Let's take a look:

  • x 125

    Licensing refers to applying a license to an area of software. Only use this tag if your question concerns the application of a license to an area of interest. If your question concerns a specific license, use the tag that corresponds to your license. For more general questions, use this tag.

  • x 28. 0 Synonyms

    License compatibility is the comparison of two or more licenses to determine if certain usages and actions can be made. Use this tag if the question would like to determine the compatibility of licenses, or their individual clauses.

  • x 17. 1 Synonym ()

    Questions about changing the license of a work which has already been published under a different license (or published under all-rights-reserved copyright)

  • x 16. 0 Synonyms

    For questions asking the community to recommend a particular license that meets criteria provided by the future licensor. Any question that seeks to have an open license is allowed, even if the criteria would render it impossible. Questions that ask for proprietary licenses explicitly are off-topic.

  • x 12. 1 Synonym ()

    Works can be released under two (or more) licenses, which may or may not be compatible, giving recipients the choice of which terms they will abide by

  • x 6.

    For questions about files containing the text of a license distributed alongside or within an open project.

  • x 5.

    Code which has not been published under a license and can be used only under regular copyright law.

  • x 5.

    For questions about the content and placement of license, copyright, and disclaimers

  • x 2.

    Use this tag for questions that ask about the difference between two or more licenses in a certain aspect.

  • x 1.

    no tag wiki excerpt

  • x 1.

    For questions about non-legalese licenses written by programmers either jokingly or to be understandable.

  • x 1.

    no tag wiki excerpt.

That's a lot of tags. In fact, this Data SE query shows all questions that have these tags.

So then here is what I recommend going forward:

Many questions with this tag are likely improperly tagged. We use the license tags for questions that apply to those licenses, and we use this tag for anything general.

  • Figure out which tags we need.

We don't need all these tags. Figure out what falls under what, and what we need.

Don't start doing anything yet. The front page doesn't need messing up. Depending on what the consensus on action here is, the mods may be able to do some of it without causing disruption (such as merging tags into one another). may need editing into many different tags, which is something that mods can't do without messing up the front page - here, your help will be appreciated (if such a course of action is decided on).

2 Answers 2


There are very few questions tagged licensing that are not tagged with a more precise, better other tag. The questions that are, all have in common that they are about how to apply licenses. There are exactly 15 questions that are not closed, and only tagged licensing. Some examples:

Can I open source my music which includes copyrighted sound effects?

Could be tagged more effectively derivative-works, re-use and/or propriety-licenses

Can you apply a license to a license?

License application question

Can I force my work to be open sourced in the future?

License application question

Do I need to make my users agree to a license?

License application question

How much of the project needs to be open source for it be be considered open source?

A question about the definition of open source. The licensing tag seems to be used as a "catch all" here, something that doesn't seem like a good idea.

Do open source cooking recipes exist?

Not a question about licensing either.

Should the source code of the Linux drivers ported to the VMKernel be released?

A question about combined works and license compatibility. Better tagged differently (license-compatibility, gplv2)

Therefor, I suggest renaming the tag licensing to license-application. This will make it clearer what

Technically, I don't know what the best way to do this is. I can see a couple of options

  • Create a new tag license-application, tag all questions that are currently about license application, and are only tagged licensing with the new tag. When all is done, burniate and ban licensing. This makes for the least amount of front-page disruption. As I understand it, this requires SE staff intervention, and they're not keen on banning tags. This is my first preference.

  • Make licensing a synonym of license-application, making it clearer for new questions that licensing is most likely not the tag they need. Clean up current uses on which the licensing tag is applied. If this is possible without messing up the front page, all the better. If that is not possible, it might be acceptable to do this slowly, over time (2 or 3 per day). This is my second preference.

  • 3
    Slight alternative to your first method: create a new tag, and mods merge the two so all questions tagged licensing get license-application applied, and licensing removed. No front page disruption, no team intervention. The tag, being empty, will then get burned automagically. Can also be combined with adding the synonym.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 16:57
  • 1
    Many questions currently tagged licensing should have the tag removed though if we refocus it to license-application @ArtOfCode
    – Martijn
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 18:11
  • 1
    Aye. If we merge the tags, then what questions keep it won't be affected, and we only need mess up those whose tags need changes.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 18:12
  • 1
    We'd have to look in to that. Of the questions it's currently tagged, I suspect it should be removed of a majority
    – Martijn
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 18:14
  • 2
    Certainly we would, yes. Your help there would be much appreciated, if that's what we end up doing.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 18:16
  • 1
    This is a sensible suggestion! Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 23:23

Aside from thinking that multi-licensing should be made a duplicate of dual-licensing (ie, swapping what's the canonical tag), I think all of these tags with more than one question are needed, and are not replaceable with each other. License-clauses is probably not useful, but with only one use so far it will either prove itself useful or else be automatically deleted after some time.

Questions which are tagged with licensing as well as one of these other tags could perhaps have the licensing tag removed, but it wouldn't really make any positive difference. If authors would prefer it have both then I think their desires should be respected unless there are strong reasons to remove the tags.

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