There's a proposed edit somewhere that would create an "engineering" tag. I don't see any value in such discipline-specific tags, myself. I suspect that at the level of creation of documents, then I (as a mathematician) could learn a lot from the chemists and others around here. Even if I don't want to typeset H_2 SO_4 all that often, the techniques used to do it could be useful for typesetting, say, the Riemann curvature tensor (yes, yes, I know).

So my inclination would be to reject this edit. However, I can well imagine that there are reasons for such tags that I've not thought of (having spent all of 20s thinking about it). So if anyone would like to argue in favour, or more strongly against, I think it would be useful to see those arguments. Thus:

Is there a use for such tags?

(The question in question, for those who like a concrete example, is Drawing Mechanical Systems in LaTeX)

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    We already have {linguistics}, so I guess it doesn't do any harm. On the other hand, that question might equally well be tagged {physics} or {mechanics} and then we are quickly hitting the 5 tag limit.
    – Caramdir
    Commented May 6, 2011 at 16:20
  • @Caramdir: I never thought of linguistics in that way. I thought of it as being about hyphenation and translation in different languages. Commented May 6, 2011 at 18:29
  • If you look at the four questions tagged {linguistics}, they're definitely about the discipline; on the other hand, there are only four of them. Commented May 6, 2011 at 21:46

4 Answers 4


I think tags for less obvious fields like linguistics and chemistry make sense since there are some packages that are very peculiar to thoses fields, or the kinds of questions are quite specifically related to things in the field itself. On the other hand math(s), computer-science, physics etc. make little sense, since they are assumed to be the primary fields of latex usage. So I certainly wouldn't get rid of the linguistics tag (of course being a linguist, I'm biased) but at the same time I wouldn't start a campaign to add field tags to everything.

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    I tend to agree, but not because those latter three are "assumed to be the primary fields"; I think it's because math, CS, and physics tend to have relatively prosaic notation, and—especially in math—everyone else tends to use it. A question about bra-ket notation might sensibly be tagged {physics}, or a question about typesetting equations in the lambda calculus might sensibly be tagged {computer-science}. Commented May 6, 2011 at 21:48
  • I'm trying to think of whether a {philosophy} tag would ever be useful. I don't ever find myself writing anything tricky in LaTeX that is specific to philosophy. The only thing I can think of is Russell's upside-down iota for his definite description operator. But that's pretty trivial... My point is that it's not just for the "primary" fields that the tags are of less use...
    – Seamus
    Commented May 12, 2011 at 12:20
  • @Seamus yes, I think Antal's characterisation is better than mine. If a question is about a package that is specifically made for philosophy (not very likely, I would think) then a {philosophy} tag might be appropriate, but otherwise it wouldn't. I don't envision many of these tags at all.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented May 12, 2011 at 12:37

Sort of as closing remarks (posted as an answer rather than an edit so that people can vote it up or down if so desired). In light of the answers so far received, it seems that there are people who would use these tags. That's good to know.

However, in light of the fact that there is a limit on the number of tags on a question and that tags (particularly discipline tags) can be seen as exclusive as well as inclusive (so could be interpreted as meaning "Mathematicians need not apply"), I would ask that discipline-specific tags be used with a modicum of caution.

(I don't want to draw up a list of dos and don'ts for these - I don't see the point. If we get loads of them then it may be worth revisting the issue but until then, I'm happy to let it be.)

  • thank you. :-) I think it's useful, if it's modestly used. Commented May 9, 2011 at 14:48

What's the harm? Would you learn less from an H_2 SO_4 post if it answered a question tagged [chemistry]?

I lean towards thinking that if some engineers would not visit the site regularly except that they would keep track of the engineering tag's RSS feed and come here from that, then the tag is doing the site some good.

  • 1
    Of course I wouldn't learn less from it! Maybe I put it the wrong way around. I can't think of a single reason why I would be more likely to look at a question if it were tagged mathematics than not. If your second paragraph is correct, then I would be happy to have the tags, but I'd like to know if it is true or not. Commented May 6, 2011 at 18:29
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    good point, Charles - that was my intention. And (as I have explained below in my answer), for me as an engineer (actually always on search for solutions with LaTeX) I'd like to keep track of those topics, which are especially interesting for me. And I assume that it could also be helpful for other people, which have not yet much experience with LaTeX, to quickly and easily find useful hints for their field of work/science. Commented May 8, 2011 at 23:09
  • @Andrew: I've asked a meta.SO question asking for information about the use of tag RSS feeds. Commented May 9, 2011 at 13:30
  • @Charles: That would be useful information to have. I bet it varies a lot with the SE site in question. Commented May 9, 2011 at 13:40
  • @Andrew: I should link to the question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/90510/… Commented May 9, 2011 at 13:41
  • A potential harm suggested by the OP is that we may have five other tags to a question that fit better than engineering. Also, it adds overhead to editors if we want to keep clean tags. For each tag that gets created people need to check every post to see if should or should not be tagged with it. Commented May 11, 2011 at 11:04

I think this kind of tags can be useful, as they help grouping questions and answers especially relevant for people working in the same discipline.

I am an engineer and I'm always interested in seeing how to use LaTeX for creating graphics as they are commonly used in my field of work. (And up to now I've seen quite few examples which are really centered on technical drawing with dimensioning, sketches, etc.)

For sure, there are things that are useful to nearly everyone (equations, e. g....), but often the different disciplines have a different focus and a slightly different point of view on the same things. The same is true for conventions, e. g. technical drawings (to take an example from the engineering field).

So I would find it useful to tag such specific contents to be easily grouped and help people find them.

That's why I suggested this "engineering" tag.

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