I'm a civil engineer and I mostly stay on that side of this site. I am also a Brazilian living in Brazil, which has its own structural codes, distinct from those in Europe and the US. Given how much of civil engineering is governed by codes, this limits to some extent my capacity to contribute to some questions which are code-specific (and almost exclusively American and European). A two-minute search gave me these examples (there are certainly plenty of others).

There are others which while not explicitly code-specific, can only be meaningfully answered by referring to the relevant codes. In such cases, the asker should really tell us where (s)he is from, though that often doesn't happen and so we all chip in with our respective codes. A few examples:

Now, would it be useful to create tags to be used in such questions, indicating the desired codes (there is already , for example, with a whopping two questions)?

I believe this would be of benefit, since it will allow for faster discovery of questions our experts are most likely to answer. I see it as similar to the "code language" tags at StackOverflow, which are almost mandatory for any question there (not that I believe such an aggressive position would be adequate here).

One possible weakness would be that some experts may limit themselves to questions with the appropriate tag or may at least avoid questions tagged with a code they are not familiar with, when in fact their external view might in fact bring in a relevant insight to the problem, even if only through a comment. However, given the current size of our site, that doesn't concern me. The expert will come in, see no new questions under his/her code-tag but see another question which, while tagged with another code, interests him/her regardless, and goes to take a look out of curiosity/boredom. Should the site grow, I believe the need for such tags only increases, for the same reasons as the "language" tags in Stack Overflow.

If this idea is appreciated, the follow-up question becomes whether the tags should remain general (such as ), representing the body/institute responsible for the codes; or if exceptional codes, those most used (such as Eurocode 2 and 3), should be given their own tags. I personally believe the general institute tags would be sufficient.


I think that what you're proposing is a reasonable approach.

There are a few things we need to keep in mind though.

  1. There's a fine line between descriptive tags and meta tags. A descriptive tag indicates the broader subject of the question. We want descriptive tags, not meta tags.

    • If you see then you can reasonably expect the question to be about fluid dynamics and not about quality management. Meta tags don't really provide an idea of the question's subject.
    • Tags like don't tell you what the question is about and could be anything.
  2. We accept questions along the lines of "What code applies in XYZ case?" where the asker is required to provide locale information and sufficient information in order to narrow the answers to a few, relevant sections of code. These questions will be difficult to tag ahead of time with a particular code, and will likely have to be tagged by the community after the fact.

    I don't expect this to be a perfect process as it puts the obligation to edit back on the community as opposed to the person asking the question. That said, I don't think I'll lie awake at night worrying about the questions that weren't tagged correctly.

  3. We'll also potentially run into challenges with limits on the number of tags available. The breadth of standards available as well as the overlap between standards organizations may result in more tags being applicable than will actually fit. For example, a question about quality management systems could easily have , , , , etc ...

    With a limit of 5 tags per question, this raises the question of which tags to use for any given question. Again, I don't think that I'll lose any sleep over the matter but it will create a source of potential confusion for site users.

TL;DR - Let's go ahead and add descriptive tags that help categorize the code related questions. But recognize that this won't be a perfect system and will require ongoing community effort in order to keep entropy at bay.

  • $\begingroup$ (1) I was going to add a comment on meta tags in my post, but I forgot. I do believe such code-tags would fall under the "descriptive" side of things, though. (2) I honestly don't think we'll get many such questions where the asker won't even know the name of the standards body. A Brazilian engineer might not know that wind loads for Brazil are defined in ABNT's NBR 6123, for example, but not knowing that the standards body is ABNT (or that all Brazilian codes start with NBR) would require a severe lack of knowledge. I therefore believe that questions requiring adding tags would be uncommon. $\endgroup$ – Wasabi Mar 31 '16 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ (3) The number-of-tags limit is indeed a good point. $\endgroup$ – Wasabi Mar 31 '16 at 18:52

I have no objection to tags as you describe, but keep in mind that tags are never for adding content to the question. If these new tags results in people not mentioning their jurisdiction or applicable code in the question body, then these tags would be hurting more than helping.


I tried to write this once, but it was rambling and didn't make sense. I'll put the condensed version here instead.

Too Long; Didn't Write

I'm fine with adding code tags as long as they are general and actually make a difference to the question. It should primarily be up to the asker to put in the code information. In most cases, a simple "I'm in XX country" might suffice instead of a tag.

I really don't want to see , , or even when might do. It may be good enough to use with more of a description in the text, but that tag may be too meta.

  • $\begingroup$ I think there are places where it could really matter. For example if I ask a question about welding sheet steel to AWS code, I need to distinguish between AWS D1.3 (structural) and AWS D9.1 (other than structural.) I agree that tagging with the specific revision of the code adds very little value. $\endgroup$ – Ethan48 Apr 2 '16 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Ethan48, I personally believe that even in such a case one should merely use [AWS] and then define the specific code (D1.3 or D9.1) in the question itself. Otherwise the number of code-tags will be immense, with each tag containing very few questions. Code-specific tags I believe shouldn't be used now in the early days of this site. If it grows and starts getting unwieldy, then I believe that an exception should be made for the most frequently used codes. $\endgroup$ – Wasabi Apr 4 '16 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ I guess that's reasonable. Until we have enough questions that a user would conceivably want to filter by each code or subscribe to only one then just aws would be fine. $\endgroup$ – Ethan48 Apr 4 '16 at 11:27

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