As of now, 5 questions have been tagged with formats and since bioinformatics in practice is 80%+ file format conversion, we can expect many more such questions!

I jest about the 80% bit...kind of...

Either way, it's important to get this tag right early on to set the appropriate tone. Just formats strikes me as a bit vague, and my first thought was to replace it with file-formats. But one could argue that this topic is relevant for converting data between different formats, even if the data is never stored in an actual file (such as in streaming processing). So perhaps data-formats is a more accurate term?

I worry that the latter, while technically more accurate, might be a bit pedantic and a turn-off for newer members of the community.


Ok, I re-tagged 6 posts. Edits pending approval.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You mean it's actually 90%, right? :P $\endgroup$
    – terdon Mod
    Jun 7, 2017 at 19:07

2 Answers 2


My vote goes to . While you can argue, as you did, that would be more accurate, since most of us are working on *nix systems where, famously, everything is a file, I think we can wing it with .

After all, even a pipe is actually a file, really. More to the point, as you said, the distinction is rather technical and I think we should err on the side of not confusing novices as opposed to appeasing the pedants.

In any case, is a classic meta tag. Formats of what? Who formats and what are they formatting? No, seems far better and instantly understandable by novice and expert alike.

  • $\begingroup$ I was uncertain when I started writing the question, but I had all but made up my mind by the time I finished writing it. I agree, file-formats is the way to go. I'll leave this open for a bit longer to give time for dissenting or alternative comments, then I'll clean up the tags. $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2017 at 19:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DanielStandage by the way, thanks for all these tag posts! They're a pain to write but essential if we're going to have a useful tagging system. Much appreciated! $\endgroup$
    – terdon Mod
    Jun 7, 2017 at 19:46

No, I don't think we should rename "format". To me, "format" is instantly the first tag I can think of when dealing with file formats. Users will use the "format" tag from time to time anyway. In fact, if you search "format" at SO, "format" and "formatting" are by far the mostly used tags.

In addition, if you think "format" is meta-ish, "file-format" is, too, just in a little narrower scope. You still don't know whether a question tagged with file-format is about a gene annotation format, an alignment format or a variant format.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .