1. 106
    Please add a `nix` tag meta

Given the volume of Nix- and NixOS-specific posts Lobste.rs receives at this point, there should be a nix tag.

Examples from the last two weeks:


  2. 14

    A bit offtopic, but could someone explain why there is always such a fuss around rolling out a new tag?

    1. 11

      Categories and ontologies are inherently controversial; I saw the same behavior at work when we changed the ticketing system categories.

      There are at least the following points of view:

      • Categories should be narrow, e.g. left-handed avocado farmers.
      • Categories should be broad, e.g. operating systems
      • Categories are undesirable or the complexity of the domain make them useless
      • Categories should be defined based on a completely different basis
      • Categories should be user definable
      • Categories should be consistent even if the topic isn’t
      • Categories are a necessary evil and should be minimized to reduce cognitive load
      • Categories should cover the common cases
      • Categories should cover every possible case

      My rule of thumb is that a category has the right scope when you get complaints that it’s both too broad and too narrow.

    2. 8

      I generally don’t find NixOS things very interesting. (Very occasionally, I find Nix things interesting, though.)

      Personally, at 7 posts in 2 weeks, I would prefer to click “hide” on each one rather than add the extra tag for every submitter to consider on every story submission.

      1. 22

        With the magic of the tags system, you could filter all nix stories by opting out only once!

        1. 2

          Sure. But since these don’t seem to be overwhelming the front page, I don’t want to make every submitter consider an additional tag. If these were occupying, say, a third of the front page, I’d probably feel differently.

          Side note: I rarely use the tags as filters because I dislike the way that works. Imagine two hypothetical tags, say “cryptocurrencies” and “crypto”. I’m pretty much never interested in bitcoin, and often find stories whose main topic is bitcoin a bit aggravating to read. But I’m very interested in cryptography, and never want to miss a story about it. As a consequence, I don’t filter cryptocurrencies. NixOS, while I’m not interested in it, falls into this zone for me, especially given how infrequently it’s posted.

          Side Note TLDR: For the tags system to work (for me) as a filtering system, I’d need more features first.

          1. 2

            In this example at least, Lobsters actually has:

            • crypto: Cryptography
            • cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

            Submitters can see the description alongside so they know which one is which.

            1. 2

              Right. It’s not usable as a filter for me because people tag stories with both. So if I filter out cryptocurrencies, I miss things like this. So not only does a submitter have to look at the tag and consider whether it applies to their story, I still am unable to use it as a filter.

              That’s really quite OK… it works well as a system for finding stories. Just less so for filtering them, IMO.

        2. 12

          Why would you put the work on hundreds of people every day instead of one person every two days? Genuinely curious, it seems like a bad decision to me.

          1. 2

            We’re using the same logic with different assumptions.

            I assume that many more people submit stories than want to filter nix.

            Considering it in light of that assumption: Why would you make it incrementally harder for those who are submitting stories to find applicable tags by cluttering the list with another infrequently posted topic? Instead you could let those few who can’t abide it on their front pages click “hide” on those rare occasions where it comes up.

            Quickly surveying the number of users who have hidden the stories in the past two weeks vs the number of story submissions in the same timeframe, it seems to me that you’re imposing more on the submitters than you are saving for the “must not see nix” crowd if you add the tag. So adding it seems like a bad decision to me.

            1. 5

              I assume that many more people submit stories than want to filter nix.

              That’s quite debatable. But this is much less so: many more people want to filter Nix than submit posts about Nix. And the latter people are already selecting tags anyhow; it’s just that the tags they select are less descriptive, and less useful to everyone.

              1. 2

                This doesn’t just impose more work on nix story submitters. It gives all submitters one more tag to read and think about when they submit.

                And it’s only quite debatable if you think people who hate reading about nix don’t click “hide” on the stories. That seems unlikely to me. It’s easy to see that there have been 25 hides on the nix posts you linked as examples. There have been many more submissions in the same timeframe, and each submitter needs to look through the whole list of tags, read each one, and decide whether to apply it. Whether the story is about nix or not.

                I’m asserting that the 25 hide clicks are fewer than the XX (I don’t have the number handy but it’s obviously >25) submissions that’d have needed to consider the tag.

                I’ve let myself go into the weeds here: my point is that each tag that must be considered and applied or dismissed for each submission is actually a cost, in terms of imposing a decision on the submitter. I’m making that point because people seem to feel like tags are only a benefit to those who would use them in filters, and tend to ignore that cost.

                1. 14

                  If people won’t put in the minimum work required to tag things properly, I don’t really know what to say. With the autocomplete for tag suggestions, it is trivial to start typing something–had even worked on a PR in the past to do automated regex suggestions, but got no traction.

                  Even if somebody themselves fails to tag it 100% correctly, some of us are happy to do the janitorial work of suggesting the correct tags via the systems in place. It’s not a big deal.

                  1. 2

                    I am suggesting that as it stands, the tag system works better with fewer tags, because each added tag raises “the minimum work” just a little bit. I don’t find the autocomplete helps a great deal, but that may be because I don’t submit all that often, so I don’t know the name of the tag I’m going for right off the bat; I need to scroll through to see which ones apply.

                    That’s way too many words to say that I think it’s best if there’s some threshold before a tag is added, and I don’t think this rises to that threshold. I don’t have a specific numeric value that I’m interested in arguing for at this moment. But I’ve never seen more than 2 or 3 nix/nixOS threads on the front page at a time, and I think any number I’d be prepared to argue for is a little higher than that.

                    1. 3

                      That’s way too many words to say that I think it’s best if there’s some threshold before a tag is added, and I don’t think this rises to that threshold.

                      That seems to imply that every time a tag is added, the threshold for adding a new one will go up, which seems somewhat illogical. E.g. suppose the threshold is X and both tags T1 and T2 exactly meet this threshold. But if T1 is added first, then the threshold goes up to X+1 and T2 no longer meets it. This criterion seems arbitrary and unfair–the tags which get added earlier have to clear lower thresholds.

        3. 4

          Previous threads:

          Perhaps a merge is appropriate if these threads happen every few months, with similar points being made.

          Some have suggested a “reproducible” tag for hermes and such. What do you make of this?

          1. 4

            Maybe this could be generalized into something that also includes Guix? Or package management in general? On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind filtering nix…

            1. 13

              Where this tag is concerned, the perfect is the consistent enemy of the good. This discussion comes up again and again, people bikeshed about whether xyz is a better tag because Blub is kind of like Nix too, and nothing happens. It’s time for a tag and nix is the only obvious choice.

              1. 2

                I don’t get your point, I’m not asking for perfection? Or to put it this way, will we also be getting a guix tag?

                1. 3

                  Sorry, my point was that when this discussion has come up previously, the discussion died at “hey we should generalize this.”

                  I am not requesting a generalized tag for reproducible builds or package management. I am requesting a tag for Nix and NixOS.

                  1. 1

                    So far, it’s not even clear if we’d get nix or nixos tag :) Regrading guix, we might get it if someone requests it.

                    1. 2

                      I’d vote for nix personally, nixos can be covered by nix, but nix also runs on macos and other unixes. So even if its nixos specific if its about nix there is a good chance I want a look see at it.

              2. 4

                It feels these tags requests really go nowhere. Just get the same people to say the same. things.

                I guess some people prefer having stuff they don’t care in their feed instead of allowing a new tag.

                1. 2

                  Maybe, but there’s no tags for any other linux distro so I’m not sure why nix should be a special case for a distro-specific linux tag, other than it seems to be interesting to a lot of crustaceans currently.

                  1. 27

                    Treating a tag system as a taxonomy robs it of many useful functions. I’d prefer we optimized for the users.

                    1. 13

                      In the interests of pedantry, nix is a package manager which is not particularly tied to NixOS Linux distribution. It is relatively popular on macOS, for example.

                      1. 12

                        And on top of that, Nix is a functional programming language. Since we have tags for haskell, clojure, and many other languages, it would be good to have a tag for nix.

                        1. 1

                          You’re technically correct, but I would name the tag nixos anyway, since “*nix” is a common generic term for UNIX-like operating systems, and also the Nix language and package manager are all hosted on nixos.org, so it’s reasonable to say that “NixOS” is the name of the overall project.

                          1. 9

                            There is already a unix tag, and tags have short descriptions next to them in the dropdown selection box. So if there was a nix tag and someone started typing nix they would see:

                            • unix - *nix
                            • nix - OS, package manager, language (e.g.)
                            1. 1

                              That makes total sense, I, for example, am still regularly confused by the nix Rust crate.

                          2. 11

                            That same reasoning would suggest that we collapse unix, freebsd, openbsd, dragonflybsd, illumos, netbsd, mac, and arguably linux togther.

                          3. 2

                            Please add a add tag tag.

                            Given the volume of tag addition and tag-specific posts Lobste.rs receives at this point, there should be a tag addition tag.


                            1. 16

                              filter meta and move on

                              1. 0

                                same applies to the OP, filter linux and move on

                                1. 9

                                  There are plenty of Nix posts that don’t have anything to do with Linux.

                              2. 7

                                Discussion about tags already belongs to meta, no need to create a new tag for which a category already exists.

                              3. 1

                                This is meta on meta - but do we have stats on how many users use the tags “positively” - by using them as a parameter in RSS feeds etc, and how many use them “negatively” - filtering out content based on tags?

                                These 2 use cases are in tension.

                                1. 5

                                  If you pull those stats, my use case is: manually visiting and reading through the listing of a tag, like: https://lobste.rs/t/emacs

                                  It’s very nice when you’ve:

                                  • forgot about something that has to do with X, “it might have been tagged X”
                                  • haven’t browsed lobste.rs in a while, and don’t want to miss anything about X

                                  I personally have not used tags negatively (“hide” does it for me). This is coming from someone that visits lobste.rs at least 5 times a day, unless on vacation.

                                  1. 3

                                    I’d echo this, most often my usage of tags is finding stuff related to a post or topic I liked.

                                  2. 2

                                    Somehow I’d completely forgotten we supported tags with rss. Thanks.