Walking through the questions something got me thinking. The tags , , , , , , ,* * and of course seem to be the most general ones we have. Every question should more or less fit into at least one of these tags with possible subdivisions such as or .

Should we or should we not require every question to feature at least one of these major subdivisions and should we then not edit in the appropriate one to all remaining questions?

Sub-question assuming ‘yes’ on question 1: Is there a way to make this (or a similar) subset of tags a required set much like , etc. on meta?

*: I’m unsure which one of these has the larger scope; my guess is drifting towards because I’m not sure if I would include in but I’m going to leave that for the pros.

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    $\begingroup$ This is also what I think, how it should be. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ Related: meta.stackexchange.com/q/87852/271002 (not conclusive) $\endgroup$
    – user7951
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 12:53
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for "and of course lolic-chemistry". $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ Personally, I like the broad tags because it helps me know what questions to look at. I can answer alot of questions in subtopics of inorganic chemistry and general chemistry but remember very little of organic, so it helps me find all the things I can look at answering. $\endgroup$
    – Mecury-197
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 22:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Mecury-197 that I believe is the only reason I'm not asking for tag burnination on meta. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 10:19
  • $\begingroup$ Related to the footnote, there was once an effort: meta.chemistry.stackexchange.com/q/391/4945 $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin RE: the meta post, should we be burning those two manually in TRE? $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ I do not see a consensus there, so i'd opt for no. If you don't know what to do: meta.chemistry.stackexchange.com/q/583/4945 There are about 100 q that need to be reviewed... and amines, esters, ... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 9:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan What is 'lolic chemistry'? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ @ApoorvPotnis An in-joke concerning the (then) tags of the Chemistry Chat room. It has since been removed. Read it as LOL-ic chemistry. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 4:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan I get it now. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 4:27

2 Answers 2


A strong "no" to your second question. A less vigorous "no" to the former.

Here are my thoughts, a bit more classified than they usually tend to be:

No because the way other SEs deal with this:

Surprisingly unsurprisingly, broader tags exist in almost every SE. The chosen way of the Tag Lords™ is broader tags shouldn't be applied to questions to which a more specific tag can be applied. I prefer it this way also. I'll explain below.

Pro/Con comparison:

The benefits of having/requiring where we have and we're talking about propanol is

  • We'd exactly know how many organochem questions we have. $\color{red}{\mathcal{Yay}~for~\textbf{stats!}}$
  • ?

The benefits of not having/requiring where we have and we're talking about propanol is

  • We have enough space for another useful tag.
  • We're not introducing any redundant tags.
  • We're avoiding a lot of confusion.
  • We're avoiding a lot of [wasteful] work for retagging questions where the OP just added the tag for the sake of avoiding the obligatory tag choice.
  • We're avoiding a lot of unnecessary arbitrary border drawing of "this should be a 'required tag' and this shouldn't".

Huh, this is obvious enough, no?

Meta experience:

A bit of meta experience tells me that first, to oblige anything outside the scope of the basic features of asking/answering/etc., you will need a very, very good reason.

Take as an example the downpour of stupid questions with a title like "HELP !!!. PROGRANNING QUESTION PROBLEMZ" on SO. It led to this; and yet we subsequently see The title word filter is one of the worst ideas ever implemented on SO. I still agree that the filter stops a lot of bad questions from being posted though.

Second, implementing and the results of implementing a feature are never as good as we depict them on paper to be. How many tags should be in the 'required' list? How do you get people and editors to comply with the recent decisions? How do you ensure you retagged everything? Or something more specific like "should we obligate when a question can still be best tagged with ? etc etc. Basically, we're just producing work that could be put to use in a better way, like TRE.

Meta tagging has a different system:

There are four tags in the 'required' list on meta, but do note that is like an tag: Any question that hasn't been sensibly and sufficiently tagged with , or is tagged with . Applying something alike to the main site just because we have a similar system here is insensible for obvious reasons.

  • $\begingroup$ (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ That was just an example. But yeah, I wanted to make sure people say it's organic. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 21:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Jan some people includes IUPAC $\endgroup$
    – user7951
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ This. This exactly is how it should be. Don't use five words when one will do. If density-functional-theory is a subset of computational-chemistry, which is a subset of theoretical-chemistry, which is a subset of physical-chemistry, which is a subset of chemistry, which is a subset of science, which is a subset of you-get-the-idea at what point do we stop requiring the parent tag? $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ @BenNorris Technically, this could (should?) mean we should ask for a tag tree rather than a tag list on meta … that would include the top groups with the sub-tag. But then again I fear that this is rather unique to chemistry, maybe biology and physics and maths but not many other Stack Exchanges … $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 11:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Jan I agree a tag tree would be much more useful. But no, a need for tag trees is sensed in pretty much every SE. i.e. the most popular tags on almost every SE are the broadest tags which have some subsets. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ In that case I encourage you to take it to meta.SE, assuming it's not already there ;) $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan Considering the fact that it's not how the tags are currently supposed to be, I need a very good meta post and some well-thought reasoning to propose a change to the basis of the features here. And even then there are no guarantees that it will happen. Most important of all, I'm lazy. So $\ldots$ $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ Another pro for having the organic-chemistry: Easier favorites for questions related to organic chemistry. $\endgroup$
    – wythagoras
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Wytha not really, since people favorite for a variety of reasons. The "I love this question" reason usually isn't related to the tag. Unless yeah, a mod is favoriting questions with one specific tag to edit them. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M I meant favorite tags. $\endgroup$
    – wythagoras
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Wytha then more specific tags are more favorable. I don't think ron, as an example of some organochem guy, would favorite that tag rather than, for instance, "reaction-mechanism". $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ I love how I keep leaving out tags such as organochem when I can use carbonyl-compounds etc. as a response to this meta question and then other people come to edit them (back) in. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, @Jan, I would decide it on a case by case basis. If a broader tag doesn't clutter up anything, it's but the least contribution to categorizing the question. Sure, if we have 4 suitable not-broad tags, then there shouldn't be any broad ones, ideally. But I would perhaps retag a question on TRE if it has a single not-broad tag. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 9:56

I just found an interesting statistic related to this question.

There are 14611 questions not tagged with any of , , , , and .

We also have 701 questions on , 625 questions on , 1255 questions on , 129 questions on , 667 questions on , and 0 questions on and .

Assuming nearly 1000 of these questions have been overcounted, we get a rough approximation of nearly 12000 questions not tagged with any field of chemistry. It is $\approx47\%$ of our total questions count! (25389 questions currently) In all honestly, that's quite a lot of them. Much more than I expected.


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