At the time of writing, the only industy specific tag I have seen is "software industry", and its a popular one - number two on the list.

While the industy can be useful background, I sometimes feel that it can drive localisation of both questions and answers, so that the outcome of what could be a good, generic problem is only applicable to the software industry.

While the software industry has some unique features, they are not unlike those found in areas like research and development, scientific research or engineering in my experience.

So should we as a community make a concious effort to try and add more industy tags where-ever we can to expand on this, or do industry tags drive localisation?

  • 2
    As a start, the tag excerpt says "Questions with this tag should be specific to the Software Industry, or to workplace elements commonly associated with said industry." feel free to remove it from any questions where that doesn't apply
    – Rarity
    Dec 21 '12 at 13:31

With a workplace focus, I don't think industry-specific tags are the way to go. More useful, possibly, would be job types like "desk job", "physical labor", and things of that ilk. Aren't the workplace problems of a software person pretty similar to those of an accountant who sits at a computer all day?

  • I think this is a great idea; many of the issues I have seen tagged with "sofware industry" are issues associated with "software development", for example. The "software industry" as a whole covers a huge range of job title and roles - I'd guess most companies have maybe 40-50% of their staff engaged in non-development tasks.
    – GuyM
    Dec 21 '12 at 22:20
  • 1
    Maybe health-wise, they may be similar, but I don't think accountants work in the same environments developers do. You don't typically see accountants in startup-type environments with bicycles hanging on the walls wearing tshirts and hoodies to work. Maybe an accountant can weight in as my interpretation is not based on experience. I've never been an accountant. So, sure, both have desks and computers, but the management and office culture may be vastly different. Again, anyone w/accounting experience, please weigh in if I'm out to lunch. ;)
    – jmort253
    Dec 22 '12 at 4:04
  • 4
    @Jmort253 - I'd suggest the "hip start-up" is a good tag, as is "corporate", and probably "family-run business", were these are relevent to the question. There probably are hip-start-up accountants that wear hoodies...
    – GuyM
    Dec 22 '12 at 4:40
  • @GuyM - And in the context of making answers applicable to the question, such tags might fit better and also open up to a wider audience. The other issue this brings to light is should question askers describe their work environment in their question?
    – jmort253
    Dec 22 '12 at 4:41
  • @jmort253 - the environment often seems relevant to the answer (or indeed part of the problem, in many cases...)
    – GuyM
    Dec 22 '12 at 4:46
  • @GuyM, and there are definitely people in the software industry who wear business dress and would never ever see a bicycle in the office. Dec 22 '12 at 22:55
  • @MonicaCellio - That's at the heart of what troubled me with "software industry" as a tag; the only commonality may well be job functions, and that gets pretty specific. Plus not everyone in the "software industry" is a developer...
    – GuyM
    Dec 22 '12 at 23:08
  • I think this is one of the only answers I've seen from you Monica that I disagree with and have to mark down. I find the industry-specific tags very relevant and useful for categorizing questions, and they provide good context for the question itself. I would not like to see these tags go away, although I do agree that some questions could be better off with job type tags like "desk-job" or "physical labor"
    – Rachel
    Aug 8 '14 at 18:52

I love the idea of "types of work" as a tag, possibly in combination with industry. Then a question asker may be able to search work type, and dig up a useful answer from another industry.

Also - I'd vote to keep industry tags - there ARE cases where the answer for a given question can vary significantly enough to have the answer be specific, even if it's reusable in another context, I'd think that the search capabilities would be helpful enough for rerouting people looking for answers.

I'd say, though, that we could improve tag editing for industry by:

  • Look for cases where tags for industries could be applied,
  • go for the broadest interpretation - for example, if the answer is tagged "software development" but really it would for any sort of develompent, call it "development" and maybe even add a tag for "knowledge work" if it's a really useful, transferable question.
  • plan that you may want multiple tags for multiple industries.
  • 2
    I actually suspect that "industry" tags might too broad to help narrow down a search because the depth/bredth of roles in that industry. "Oil and Gas" industry is a good example, where it covers everything from being on a rig drilling to running the store attached to a petrol (gas) station; even using the "upstream" and "downsteam" split woudln't help much. "Field-work" or "retail" tags would be more useful. In browsing around, the Christian.se was having similar problems with the "God" and "Jesus" tags, as you might expect....
    – GuyM
    Dec 21 '12 at 22:26
  • @GuyM - This is a tough one because even in the oil and gas industry, the type of conditions I work in may be much different than a software dev in a hip startup. I've not worked in oil and gas, but I picture those environments being very strict, with multiple layers of management and lots of rules and regulations. For instance, I work in what we call a business incubator. We focus on implementing new ideas to expand into other areas with new, innovative products. As a result, the environment is very open, unrestricted, and unregulated, which may be different than a secure data warehouse.
    – jmort253
    Dec 22 '12 at 4:12
  • With that said, I don't think we need to get rid of one tag group in favor of another tag group, as we can add up to 5 tags. However, I'm not against Guy's experiment of letting a few questions go without tags until they're answered, just to see how the answers do. :)
    – jmort253
    Dec 22 '12 at 4:14
  • @jmort253 - I suspect a most industries are the same, with a significant level of segmentation (to coin a marketing term) that is actually important when describing the culture. There are "hip start-ups" in O+G, believe it or not, as well as large corporates.
    – GuyM
    Dec 22 '12 at 4:36
  • @GuyM - Makes sense. I guess when I think oil/gas I picture BP or Shell or something really ultra-corporate...
    – jmort253
    Dec 22 '12 at 4:38
  • @jmort253 - The feeling I get is that firms like IBM and HP are similar to Shell; and fo course all of the them will employ a lot of software developers.
    – GuyM
    Dec 22 '12 at 23:04

Some workplace problems could have answers that are useful only in that industry or answers that are useful to a wide variety of industries, as long as it still applies to the industry the problem occurred in.

Consider that if I asked a question about a problem in industry A, I could get an answer that applies to A, or I could also get an answer that applies to A, B, C, D, and E industries, but if I get an answer that applies to B and C but not A, then that's a problem. Industry A must always be inclusive in an answer addressing a problem in industry A.

Thus, I don't see this as a localization problem but instead more as a focusing point. Localization is really about those extremely rare situations that won't help a wider audience barely larger than just the asker, but industries are large; there are countless possible future visitors of just about any industry.

With that said, I support adding tags for other industries, but an answer should never be limited to just applying to industry A and no other. For instance, this wouldn't be a good comment for us to see:

Hey user, your answer applies to industry A and B, but the asker was asking about industry A!

That would not be good, IMHO. As long as the answer addresses the problem the asker is facing, then it should be considered a good answer, barring other issues.

Let's wait a few days to give others an opportunity to weigh in before retagging.

  • 1
    To me the key issue is whether we'd get better answers if we didn't have industy specific tagging, and of course whether that would make it easir to edit questions to make them as broadly applicable as possible. Its probably one of those "hard to find out without trying it" deals.
    – GuyM
    Dec 21 '12 at 3:48
  • 1
    Hi @GuyM, This should be an easy experiment for software industry. If you see the tag and are first to see the question, just remove it, and we can add it back later if needed. If it seems promising, then maybe we talk about removing the tag, if it causes confusion, then we can go from there. ;)
    – jmort253
    Dec 21 '12 at 3:54

Tags are used to categorize the question, not the answer.

They're used for filters, to help narrow down the list of questions to ones that I feel I would be most interested in viewing, or that I would be best qualified to answer.

I do not see anything at all wrong with industry-specific tags on a question, providing the question is not so generic that there would be an industry-wide catch-all answer.

It will scale better as the site grows, and provides a useful way for users to filter down to just the section of questions they are interested in, much the way that Stack Overflow is divided by language tags.

For those that argue "We don't want to have duplicate answers for every industry!", fear not! Nobody said you have to mark duplicates based on matching tags, so providing there is nothing special to take into consideration about industry B that would make the answer on industry A not complete or comprehensive, mark it as a duplicate!

Some examples to demonstrate cases where I think the tag is warranted to get an industry-specific answer:

These questions could be asked in a generic form, however they would not be nearly as useful nor easy to find without the context of the software-industry tag.

  • I'd like to better understand your perspective (as I often agree with your posts). Could you link to a few questions where this tag acts as a useful filter but the question is not so generic that there would be an industry-wide catch-all answer? Thanks! Aug 8 '14 at 19:18
  • 1
    I'll see if I can hunt some down for you @Monica. The first thoughts that come to mind are questions related to giving/taking code tests, resume layout questions specific to the tech industry like how to list technologies or side projects, or how to stay current with a rapidly evolving industry. I'm sure some of these questions could apply to other professions as well, however knowing they are specifically for the software-industry allows us to write industry-specific answers that have context as opposed to generic answers that are designed to try and accommodate every possible scenario.
    – Rachel
    Aug 8 '14 at 19:42
  • @MonicaCellio I had to add the examples to the answer itself as the links made it too long to fit into a comment. Hope I picked good links... was trying to find ones that wouldn't detract from the main question and answer here :)
    – Rachel
    Aug 8 '14 at 19:57
  • Rachel, thanks for the additional info. Yes, I can see your point now. Would you agree that the software-industry tag should be applied narrowly -- to questions that are particularly about that, but not to questions that could be for any industry but happened to be asked about a software setting? Aug 8 '14 at 20:51
  • While looking for example questions, I did see quite a few where the tag was probably not needed and could easily be removed. However I also didn't see any harm in leaving the tag there as a way of providing context to the question and answers, and for categorizing the post for those that are specifically interested in following the software-industry tag. Also in many cases, it's often the answerers that would know if the question is general enough that the tag is not needed, not the asker, so I don't see any reasonable way of enforcing the tag to be applied narrowly without excessive editing.
    – Rachel
    Aug 8 '14 at 21:02

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