I haven't really decided yet if a
[Why] tag would be useful at all or if this could really offer to the community of
TeX.SX but I will post this answer that is mostly an explanation on the reason I made this question and on why (at the time I did the question) I thought it could be a tag that can offer but also why it could be a problematic tag (and thus the question). (Of course this answer could be just an edit on my question explaining the reasons of my "request" but I feel that it is mostly an answer to this "discussion" and doesn't really just describe the question because such an edit would be unfair to the answers that have already posted in this question and because possibly my question was not clear enough at the time that the answers posted.)
Introduction on my thinking while making this question:
During the years I am an active user in TeX.SX I have seen several questions here and many of them (may be the most I have seen) asks how to get a desired output. Some others asks why their code fails and where is the error/mistake. But if we search for the questions that are not in this above two categories there are just a few that asks about the difference between (i.e. two commands) or the reason of a general behavior (and not just of the failure of a code)...
It is clear (or almost clear) to me, that the tag "How?" would be a tag that would be useless (refers to most of the questions asked). Question that doesn't care about how and are not too specific on code (or even in case of differences -possibly another tag-) are the case(s) I "proposing" (or better thinking about proposing) tag(s).
Asking why in some cases seems funny (If you ask "why nature behaves like this?" is just a funny question. If you ask "why a person behaved like that" -even if psychoanalysts are trying to do it- seems still funny to me because the behavior of a person is not so simple to have just one or more reasons but it is something complicated that in many cases comes from the whole life of of the person and neither the person itself can answer about this "why"...) But the behavior of a code under specific conditions is a reasonable question for me.
Of course if that tag was about not basic commands/usage/behavior of small and really basic "code snippets" but about the result (and actually the debugging) of complicated and not so small codes. The tag "why?" would be useless for me too....
But in case that such tag had some rules like been added only for more general questions and thus small parts of code (if any) or general behavior of some command, or advantages/disadvantages and behavior of some non-too-specific code parts (that could for example explain why some syntax has to be avoided or why we a new command with an empty line creates an unwanted space/paragraph etc) could be a useful tag mostly for people that have gone over he stage that asks the basics from their TeX/LaTeX code and its output and are doing their next step in TeX/LaTeX programming.
Of course this already seems to be complicated, because who will decide if the question is general enough?, or how can we avoid this tag in everyone of the huge amount of questions that asks "Why my code gives this instead of that?" or "Why my code doesn't work"? .. such questions with too specific code that asks for debugging and correction should not be tagged as "why"questions and this makes this additional tag a complicated situation that could possibly be added from moderators only etc.
Main part of my "answer" to make clear what I mean with examples
A question like the question
A) Why is [ … ] preferable to $$ … $$?
has these "characteristics":
- Does NOT deals with "How" could someone get a specific output?.
- Does NOT asks "Where/What" is the mistake caused a specific error/warning/behavior on a specific code?.
- The answers deals with the reason/differences/cases (Here if this question was tagged like this should deal with the inner
TeX/LaTeX features and the differences between
LaTeX on their syntax and features).
- The Question could contain as
- some code that demonstrates that the OP could not find a difference/reason/case in the output or in preference between the two ways on the syntax (and thus decided to ask)
- some code that demonstrates that the OP could find a difference but could not decide/realize about the usage/reason/case that is supposed to be the preferred and/or why LaTeX offers/replaces the old
TeX syntax and if both syntax are finally valid or one of them is not valid, and if so, when to use each one etc.
- or the question could just not contain a MWE at all (since it is not really specific on some particular code but on differences/reasons/cases that one or the other syntax should(n't) be used.)
- A "valid answer" (in my opinion) could contain (with or without examples):
- the differences on the usage between these two syntax/commands (just in case that both commands/syntax was valid in
- the reason that the
TeX syntax was not enough for
LaTeX and thus why
LaTeX developers had to stand out of the primitive
TeX syntax or the need of this addition on
LaTeX and on this replacement of the
TeX primitive syntax by the LaTeX syntax and thus
- The inner way that the
LaTeX syntax works in contrast with the primitive
Similar "characteristics" we can find in the questions (just examples to help the discussion and this answer):
Why are some LaTeX macros defined using \newcommand and some using \def?
but also What is the difference between \def and \newcommand?
Here the first question has the word "Why" in its title but the second deals with "the difference" but both questions:
- have all the above characteristics.
- are not really looking for a solution on how to solve a problem or get a specific output but are mostly about reason or difference (of existence or of between commands -could be between packages or packages' features etc-)
May be two tags would be useful (one about
why and one about
when/difference but this is something I didn't thought when making this question and had just the general idea about such a tag and I had not really separate them in my mind as did while writing this answer)
Now let's talk about the usage. See this question here: Extra space after @hangfrom try to imagine that the person that made that question, had already ways to create a code that gives the desired output even by using the \hangfrom command again (for example by defining a command that doesn't take any argument or whatever) but was interested on why this code creates this undesired space and not really on ways to solve the problem or alternative code.
The answer there, is not just offer a way (how) to solve the specific problem but explains the reason that problem comes up with this code. Of course answers of this kind are very often (in order of explaining the reason of a failure) but could NOT be reasonable tagged with
why (not even in case that the desired of the question was only the why part because the code in the question is really specific and doesn't refer for example to the difference between
\nolinebreak in general that would make the question a good question to be tagged as
- Now about the question How to print a text from inside a command without affecting its width?(sorry didn't found another question on this but I am sure it have been asked several times -in order of the unwanted space after the open tokens inside a command-)
If the real question was "Why
\newcommand creates unwanted white space?" with a typical
\newcommand usage without the "%" at the places that was actually needed, the answer could be the answer of @HenriMenke there with an explanation of the usage of "%" and how/why it is used in
TeX/LaTeX then it could be tagged with this
why proposed tag. But if it was too specific like it is posted there (with a specific usage of a
\newcommand and not just a typical one the
why tag would be a bad idea even if this was the desired from the answer and if some alternatives was already known to the noob that did that question -it was me, So, I have the right to talk like this-). Also, may be this kind of question (the generalized edition) would also be a bad question to be tagged as a
why question because it misses basic knowledge on how latex behaves on spaces and tabs/newlines on the end of the line (this is under the discussion of how could such a tag be used -if could be used at all-).
Finally, with such one or two tags, some questions that are interested only on the reason (and may be some on the difference/case) would be tagged with this (one or two) tag(s) and should not be answered by solutions to achieve some output or alternative commands or... This would help the people that are trying to answer to not lose their time by providing an alternative when doesn't really know the reason (or the difference etc) of the unwanted behavior or of the existence of the
LaTeX alternative etc. Would also offer to the readers some tags that explain basic
TeX/LaTeX concepts that possibly had not realize a nice resource (by selecting this tag(s)) to learn more concepts than already know on the usage or on the difference between commands etc. But also, would be a difficult tag to manage in the case that it had to be added only to non-specific-code answers and could create real big problems to the editors/moderators etc
PS: For the part that may be the tag could only be used in non-specific questions, it is just an idea (that I had during the question and still have under consideration) and not something that have to permit answers that want this tag as a general tag depending only on OP's expectations.