In tag-clarification-ethics-vs-etiquette-vs-professionalism we discussed the similarities between Etiquette and Professionalism.

Jim made the point that etiquette and professionalism could be defined as:


  1. conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.
  2. a prescribed or accepted code of usage in matters of ceremony, as at a court or in official or other formal observances.
  3. the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other: medical etiquette. (looks like there is a bit of overlap between ethics and etiquette)


the standing, practice, or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur.

But if we really look at the definitions it seems that professionalism is essentially etiquette in the workplace! and given that all questions here is about the workplace, these tags are essentially one in the same.

Moving away from the definitions lets have a look at the current tag definitions on the site itself. We have:

Etiquette: The set of written and unwritten rules of conduct that make social interactions run more smoothly.


Professionalism: Professionalism refers to how you come across to others in a work environment.

So one of these talks about social interactions and the other about how you come across to others, during social interactions....oh.

To exacerbate the problem lets have a look at the questions being asked:

Picking the top voted etiquette question we can see that it is actually also the top voted professionalism question. hmm, so they aren't defined differently, or really used differently either.

So the best way to make my point would be to get you to look at all the questions tagged etiquette, if you can find one tagged etiquette, that wouldn't make sense to be re-tagged professionalism then please point it out! I've had a cursory glance and I see no questions that benefit from being differentiated as etiquette, rather than professionalism.

Here are a few examples:

how-can-i-ask-my-interviewers-for-feedback-following-an-interview Tagged etiquette, but this is a question about how you are presenting yourself in a professional situation.

is-it-considered-rude-to-turn-down-a-job-after-initially-accepting-it Tagged etiquette, but this is essentially another question on how you are viewed in a professional environment.

Taking all of this into consideration I suggest the following course of action.

Redefine the tags

The definition for Professionalism should be changed, as 'Professionalism refers to how you come across to others in a work environment.' is a bit vague, instead i suggest the following:

Questions referring to how one presents themselves and interacts with others in a professional environment

A professional environment is then considered any place where you are on the clock, be it at the office, in an interview, at a client site, or even during team activities outside of hours. As everything you do in these times affects your professional image

Etiquette on the other hand would be redefined as:

Questions referring to how one presents themselves and interacts with others outside of the professional environment

Because professionalism is essentially etiquette but in a professional environment. The problem then is that etiquette is to be used for non work environments, but ALL of our questions should be about the professional environment, we are the workplace after all.

So this folds back to my main point. Questions tagged etiquette should be re-tagged with professionalism and the etiquette tag should then be removed. The two tags are currently being used interchangeably and the fact that this is now at least the third meta post about it there is clearly some confusion that we should work to mitigate

  • 1
    If we make the ettiquette tag a synonym for professionalism it will work for the users seemlessly wont it? Aug 30, 2013 at 13:47
  • @Chad i suppose, perhaps its just that part of me that prefers one solution over two preferring one tag over two. Given that i'd want to redefine etiquette it would put it outside whats considered on topic for the workplace
    – user5305
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:50
  • Why not just use the definition from the dictionary instead of trying to create some very specific local definition? the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person
    – StingyJack
    Jan 21, 2019 at 11:59

2 Answers 2


This did come up as a question during the first days of our site, Is the Etiquette tag a synonym of Professionalism?, and Abby Miller makes a great point about the differences between professionalism and etiquette.

However, on our site, the professionalism tag was used on over 230 questions and etiquette was used on about 134 questions (if memory serves). It seems that most people aren't familiar enough with the terms to see the differences when applied to the workplace. Furthermore, to avoid confusion, the best course of action seemed to be to make them synonyms.

Thus, both etiquette and professionalism now point to the professionalism tag. To retag all of these questions would be a massive undertaking, but if someone were to go through and systematically retag these, the synonyms could be removed, but for now, the synonyms seem to be the best approach.

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    Thanks for the support JMort, i would happily retag them all but it would bump all the questions into the active list and the tag would only be recreated again anyway. unless we were planning on giving etiquette a proper definition and then willing to enforce its proper use its probably best to just make them synonyms
    – user5305
    Sep 8, 2013 at 22:42
  • @RhysW no harm in retagging them all (even if it does bump them) so long as it's on a weekend when there tends to be incredibly little activity anyway.
    – jmac
    Sep 8, 2013 at 23:52
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    @jmac Ok took the time out of my weekend when it was quiet, retagged every etiquette question to now be professionalism
    – user5305
    Sep 14, 2013 at 12:57

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(alternatively just set it as a synonym)

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    If making it a synonym works we should do that; retagging bumps the questions. Sep 1, 2013 at 19:04

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