The bibtex tag wiki entry reads: "This tag is for questions that concern Oren Patashnik's BibTeX program and its use." At the moment, there are 121 questions tagged with . In my opinion, they can be divided into three categories (nicely represented by the three questions with the highest vote number):

I suggest (besides retagging the third category) to split the tag into and . I do so especially for the following reasons:

  • Being familiar with the BibTeX format does not equate to being versed in .bst hackery. (Case in point: At the moment, I'm the top user of the tag, and I know next to nothing about the .bst format. I guess Herbert would be the top user of .)

  • The BibTeX format will be supported by biblatex in the future, while usage of the BibTeX program as a backend for biblatex will be terminated (see PLK's comment to this answer).

  • Do you have any estimates how much retagging this would require?
    – Caramdir
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 17:54
  • I don't think {bibtex-program} for BibTeX style files is very discoverable. On the other hand {bibtex-styles} would not cover any questions about the program itself. Also I find {bibtex-format} a bit ambiguous as it might be taken to be about the bibtex .bst format. In general I like the idea though.
    – Caramdir
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 17:57
  • @Caramdir: If one would manually retag every {bibtex} question, about three or four weeks. If we map everything to {bibtex-format} and proceed from there, maybe half as much (but change-tracking would be more error-prone). However, if (!) the general idea is sound, we should start rather sooner than later.
    – lockstep
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 18:00
  • 1
    @Caramdir: As for {bibtex-format} being ambiguous -- another possibility is {bib-format}.
    – lockstep
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 18:01
  • What is the advantage of doing this? It seems to me that bibtex is exactly the tag people will be looking for when they have any questions about BibTeX. Why not just change the tag wiki entry to be more inclusive if that's the concern?
    – TH.
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 21:44
  • @TH.: a) People often think their question is about BibTeX when in fact the solution does not involve BibTeX. b) Some people (e.g., myself) may be able to answer (and therefore may want to find easily) questions about {bib-format} but not questions about {bibtex-program}. (It's like having one big {tikz-pgf-pstricks} tag and at some point realizing that you are not interested in {pstricks}.
    – lockstep
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 21:53
  • Sure, but are people actually going to tag it appropriately? 120 questions in months really isn't so frequent that filtering on bibtex wouldn't be effective.
    – TH.
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 22:25
  • @TH.: If you don't believe that cleaning up the tag currently at rank 15 is useful, then you don't believe in the usefulness of tags at all.
    – lockstep
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 22:30
  • I don't know what rank 15 means, but you're right about the consequent of that implication.
    – TH.
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 0:05
  • Put another way, bibtex seems like the obvious tag for my question. Under a new tagging system, what would the right tag be?
    – TH.
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 0:08
  • @TH.: What I wanted to say is that {bibtex} is no. 15 in terms of number of question tagged with it. As for tags being useless: I respect this position, but I don't share it.
    – lockstep
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 0:14
  • @TH.: With regard to your example question: If you insist on using BibTeX 0.99d, then {bibtex-program}. If not, {biblatex} plus possibly {bibliographies}. And to give a fictitious example: The question "What is the difference between tikz-pgf and pstricks?" should feature the {tikz-pgf} as well as the {pstricks} tag -- yet this does not prove that these tags should be merged.
    – lockstep
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 0:21
  • I don't see the connection between your example and mine. Yours compares two things. Mine asks about one. And since it was a question about adding something to the .bib, would that not make it a bibtex-format question? I guess I just find the division of tags you're proposing sort of confusing. It seems like you're just going to end up having to retag a bunch of questions now and then retag each one as it comes in and I am still not seeing the benefit. But maybe I'm just missing something obvious. As in all tag-related matters, I have no vested interest either way.
    – TH.
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 0:49
  • @TH.: From my point of view, your question was about controlling the minimum threshold for crossrefs without using the command prompt, and I provided an answer that involved no .bib changes. But as you find my tagging proposal confusing, it may well be ill-conceived.
    – lockstep
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 1:02
  • 2
    I also don' think there's much to be gained from splitting the tags. This is esepcially true because tags belong to questions, not answers. Even if the answers end up being about either the program or the formatting people askers will tend not to see the distinction. It seems better that the bibliographies tag be encouraged as an additional to questions involving formatting and left out for questions involving just .bib files/bibtex-the-program alone.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 17:54

1 Answer 1


After some pondering, I think that Alan Munn's reasoning carries the day. Even if a tagging distinction may be useful in theory, it should be dispensed with if the majority of questioners is likely to be confused by the distinction and to misapply the relevant tags. The distinction between and seems to fit this description, and therefore the tag should be retained for both aspects of BibTeX. (For general questions about , the tag of the same name should be used rather than ).

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