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A recent question came up using the colors tag. Right now, there are only 10 questions with this tag, and they mostly seem to refer either to faces or font-lock.

The colors tag seems ripe for retirement given the small number of tagged questions and ambiguous use. Would people prefer to

  1. burninate it entirely,
  2. make it a synonym for either faces or font-lock (and if so, which?), or
  3. leave it as is?
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Conclusion: 4/10 definite misuse of instead of [tags:text-properties], [tags:faces] or [tags:font-lock]. 4/10 where is marginal. 2/10 where is important, including one where it's legitimately the sole tag.

I don't think we can get rid of , though we should discourage its use when the question is really about , , or .

I propose to keep the tag, and write a tag wiki that explains when to use other tags instead. (I'm putting it on my to-do list; if someone wants to do it, they're welcome.) I think we can live with that, and retag mistagged questions as they come in. Let's see how it goes, if we're overwhelmed by misuse we can consider retagging legitimate uses to with a name that discourages misuse.

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    I agree with your conclusion, but disagree with the conclusions you draw from your conclusion. :-) a tag with 4 definite misuses and 2 legitimate uses is asking to be slaughtered. – Malabarba Feb 14 '15 at 1:26
  • @Malabarba What tag would you use for the questions that are actually about colors then? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 14 '15 at 11:21
  • the only one that's non trivial to tag is the color picker. I can't think of any tag that really fits it well, so I would just compromise and use faces (even though it's not a good tag here). Generally I would be fine with letting a tag exist because there's one question that really needs it. But this tag in particular is doing more harm than good. It's fragmenting questions about all these other tags, and mixing them up in one meaningless tag. – Malabarba Feb 14 '15 at 11:50
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IMO, synonym would be better as everyone might not be familiar with the emacs terms like faces and font-lock.

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  • Good point. Preferences between the two? – Dan Feb 13 '15 at 19:40
  • I like font-lock as it means locking color/size/shape/etc properties to a font to give that text some special meaning. – Kaushal Modi Feb 13 '15 at 19:41
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    Synonym to what? I looked at the questions and colors could be about themes, text-properties, faces, font-lock… There isn't a clear choice between these different meanings, so a synonym is not appropriate. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 13 '15 at 23:38
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    @kaushalmodi we ought to make syntax coloring a synonym of font locking. That way people typing "color" would be able to find font locking. However, colors, by itself, is much closer to faces than to font locking IMO. – Malabarba Feb 14 '15 at 11:57
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There is zero reason to remove tag colors. There is every reason to write a tag wiki that specifies what the tag involves.

More precisely, I would propose changing the tag from colors to color. The confusions that some of you are worried about will, I think, be reduced just by making this name change.

It is questions about color (color models, how Emacs Lisp manipulates colors, etc.) that should be captured by the tag, and not questions about faces, themes, font-lock or other highlighting, etc. (they have their own tags). IOW, the tag has a raison d'etre, and that is questions & information that are specifically about color (not colors).

And no, it is not the case that (as Malabarba said) "A color, in elisp, is nothing but a face attribute." Faces might be where Emacs Lisp uses color, but questions about color do not necessarily reduce to questions about faces.

There is plenty in Emacs that is about color and not just about faces, themes, font-locking, etc. And even some posts that might have to do primarily with faces or themes etc. can also involve specific information about color.

It is not because some questions about font-locking or whatever do NOT involve dealing with color issues specifically that there are not other questions that do deal with color issues (as well as with faces or whatever).

It is not an accident that Emacs has functions for manipulating and displaying color names and color RGB or HSV components.

The proposal to replace (merge) tag colors with faces or any of the other tags discussed is misguided, IMO. Rename it to color, and clarify to users what the tag is for. The tag wiki can specifically mention other tags such as faces and when to use them.

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Yes, merge it into and make it a synonym. Other tags like font-lock or text properties might be worth adding to some of these questions, but they have more distinct meanings and that's a case by case thing. The tag color as a whole should be a synonym of faces.


Out of all current uses, the only one where color suits better than faces is: Are there color pickers for Emacs? . And even here would be an acceptable tag (though we can manually find a more appropriate one for this).

As a second point, what would be the purpose of a color tag? A color, in elisp, is nothing but a face attribute. Having a color tag is like having a weight tag or an underline tag. It's too small to warrant a tag (as exemplified by the total of 1 use so far where it works better than ).

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  • No, merging into faces is not sensible. Of the 10 questions currently tagged colors, only one is about faces. Others are about properties, themes, font lock, … – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 14 '15 at 11:22
  • @Gilles except for the mouse pointer and the color picker questions, every single mention of "color" in those questions is a reference to the color property of faces, so I disagree with your statement. Of the 10 questions, 8 of them can easily be tagged faces. Of course, most of them can also be given other tags (and they should, that's what I said on the first paragraph). – Malabarba Feb 14 '15 at 11:42
  • No, faces wouldn't make sense on emacs.stackexchange.com/questions/7354/… for example, and it's as irrelevant as colors for emacs.stackexchange.com/questions/8211/… and its sibling. text-properties is less wrong but still too different to be a synonym. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 14 '15 at 11:46
  • @Gilles I disagree. I think faces is a great tag for the first question and a marginal tag for the second. – Malabarba Feb 14 '15 at 11:55

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