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There is a huge potential in this site that lies in the same premise that made Stack Overflow one of the largest sites on the 'net — it united all the world's Programmers Engineers regardless of discipline or field. I can see "Engineering SE" becoming the Next Big Thing™ if we are steadfast in that same goal.

So to appeal to all the world's engineers — don't forget to tag your questions with a field of engineering (where applicable) That way this site is more than one big pile of… stuff, and folks educated in these disciplines can frequent the tags they are most able to contribute. These tags serve much the same purpose as the language tags on Stack Overflow. Having to read every question to find things I can answer will not scale. Tags are a great way to organize content even when we surpass 10s or even 100s of thousands of questions (but we're shooting for millions).

Let's get in this habit now. If you ask a question, be sure to tag it with some field of engineering (where applicable). If the tag is missing, add it. Of course, there will always be exceptions (engineering-agnostic questions) but in general, the engineering tags should become the largest tags on the site.

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  • $\begingroup$ This seems like the right course of action. Having a lot of *-engineering tags seems a little redundant, but I suppose a tag like mechanical would be somewhat unclear compared to mechanical-engineering. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Read Jan 21 '15 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ Don't worry about the redundancy. Tags should be called whatever folks most commonly refer to those fields as: [computer-engineering] [electrical-engineering] [mechanical-engineering] etc, etc. Using the correct vernacular becomes really important when it comes to attracting the right folks through search. $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Jan 21 '15 at 0:53
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, having the overarching discipline tag for search results will be very useful. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Read Jan 21 '15 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ Part of the challenge is we don't have enough users at 500+ rep yet to automatically edit & update the tags. $\endgroup$ – user16 Jan 22 '15 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ @GlenH7 That's we we have the 'suggested edit' interface, to make that activity accessible to more users (basically everybody). $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Jan 22 '15 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertCartaino That would imply patience upon my part. $\endgroup$ – user16 Jan 22 '15 at 1:06
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Yes, but I think we have to figure out what constitutes a "discipline". We need to be more granular than just "Electrical Engineering", "Mechanical Engineering", and "Chemical Engineering".

While I might start a holy war here, there are only a small handful of core Engineering disciplines when you consider just basics. And many disciplines branch off from there.

At the core most Electrical Engineering University programs cover anything where electrons are moving to generate current of some kind (that is probably overly simplistic, but for the purposes of this discussion, it should suffice). Where does electrical engineering end and telecommunications start? What about computer engineering? Power & Nuclear Engineering?

The trick will be finding the right balance of high level tags to effectively categorize things while at the same time not being too general.

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    $\begingroup$ I would start with whatever field people are educated in. Certainly there are other tags to describe the subject of the post, but folks are going to tag questions with whatever depth of "expertise" suits them. But if you get overly pedantic about making these discipline tags overly specific, like you said, you'll start a holly war and the site will become largely unusable over semantics. $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Jan 21 '15 at 1:28
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    $\begingroup$ @RobertCartaino that is understandable, but when you factor the professional end of things you run into more issues - I may have earned a BSEE, but I don't consider myself an electrical engineer anymore. Questions and Answers I might have tend to lean towards telecommunications and RF Engineering. If we get to general with tagging, then you may make questions too general for experts. That was the point I was trying to convey. We need to find the right balance of general and specific as to narrow the scope of questions to make it easier to find the right questions. $\endgroup$ – psubsee2003 Jan 21 '15 at 1:34
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    $\begingroup$ Tags are are not really designed to be an absolute taxonomy. They are somewhat ad hoc in how they are created... and used... and made useful. So I hear your point, but let's just make sure we're looking at tags from the top-most levels of the site by anticipating that there are a lot of diverse interests here... and making sure we include enough of those "high level" tags to make this site useful. $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Jan 21 '15 at 1:37
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    $\begingroup$ I would think that nuances within a general discipline would be handled by simply adding additional tags to the question: electrical-enginnering rf noise, etc. $\endgroup$ – Dave Tweed Jan 28 '15 at 16:45
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Let's say I'm having issues with a gas trap for a chemical process not working properly.

The issue could be the design of the gas trap itself (mechanical-engineering). Or it could be something to do with the chemical I'm using (chemical-engineering) and how it interacts with the metals the gas trap is made of (materials-engineering).

Or if I'm having an issue with an auto-welding machine in my factory.

It could be the materials I'm using (materials-engineering), an issue with the design of the part (mechanical-engineering), or it could be an issue with the auto-welder itself (manufacturing-engineering or automation-engineering or electrical-engineering depending on the issue).

I am worried that limiting the audience of each question to a subset of engineers doesn't help get better answers or help categorize the questions any better. At least when I worked with engineers, they very rarely included "mechanical engineering" in their search terms when looking for questions, so I don't think it will help people find answers through search either.

I definitely think finding the right tags is a good idea, I just don't think these are the right tags.

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't this the point of allowing multiple tags on a single post? There are plenty of multi-disciplinary questions that will come up, but I imagine that there will be a good number of single-discipline questions too. I worry about the opposite issue, the tags I've seen so far seem very specific and might only get used once. $\endgroup$ – Trevor Archibald Jan 21 '15 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ @TrevorArchibald let's say I'm a mechanical engineer working with the first issue with the gas trap. If I tag it [mechanical-engineering] then I may be assuming the issue is within my purview, even if the actual answer should come from a materials or chemical engineer, which limits my audience. Since the person asking likely doesn't know the cause (which is why they are asking), they aren't likely to know which tag to use either. $\endgroup$ – jmac Jan 21 '15 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ I see what you're saying, but others can suggest tags if they see issues that might be going unnoticed by the poster, and I'd expect engineers in those type of fields to have that sort of cross-disciplinary experience that would allow them to see the problem from a couple different angles. That might be misplaced optimism though. $\endgroup$ – Trevor Archibald Jan 21 '15 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ @TrevorArchibald Most engineers I know tend to do a lot of cross-discipline stuff in their field. So rather than artificial categories like "mechanical-engineering" and "chemical-engineering" I would rather see "petroleum-refining" or "power-production", etc. that are more likely to get eyes that can answer these questions from possibly having dealt with them before. A mechanical engineer in charge of a food factory is going to be different from one in a refinery, after all. $\endgroup$ – jmac Jan 21 '15 at 3:19
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    $\begingroup$ @jmac - tags don't segregate, they link and attract. I feel that tagging by industry and sub-discipline tags are as important as tags for the big 4 disciplines. So a flour conveying question from a food factory may be answered by a polymer grain handling engineer in an injection molding plant. It would be great to see that tagged [process-engineering] [solids-handling] [food] [mechanical-engineering] [chemical-engineering] $\endgroup$ – dcorking Jan 21 '15 at 13:42

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