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I've been browsing through some of the over 9,000 questions tagged with , and I'm seeing tons of problems with it. There are several "categories" of questions that fall under this tag:

  • Questions that use it as a meta-tag to indicate they are building a math equation, but the problem is not actually related to math. Usually it's related to finding a function/method that completes some mathematical action, which is better off with only the tag for the language they're using.
    Example: Does less.css support exponents?

  • Questions that are just plain math problems and are completely unrelated to programming in any way, needing to be closed as off-topic.
    Example: Point laying near line

  • Questions that have nothing to do with math at all, but more with formatting of numbers.
    Example: Keeping “useless” 0s when performing calculations

  • Questions that are actually about math in a programming context, but have better tags than that are much better at categorizing the question.
    Example: Maths error in PHP - number truncated?

  • Questions that are actually about math in a programming context and fit well with this tag. This doesn't seem to include very many questions.
    Example: Get results that fall within marker radiuses from database


So with only one case out of five being a proper use for the tag, how useful can we say the tag is? It definitely needs some cleaning up if we're going to keep it, and the tag wiki should be updated to outline more specifically when a question should be tagged with it. What say ye?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You can't look at only 5 psuedo-random questions and declare "1 out of 5 questions tagged aren't using the tag correctly".

Math problems are different for different programming languages and often require solutions that aren't portable to other languages (or operating systems), so there's that to consider.

You just retagged this one "CSS" when it's technically not a CSS question any more than it is a math question, so I don't quite trust your motives on this issue.

The tag is useful. I actually have it on "ignore" because I suck at math. If you see questions that aren't using the tag correctly, retag them; but I see no reason to completely "nuke" the tag.

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I didn't say 1 in 5 questions were using it incorrectly, I said 1 in 5 cases. I don't know how spread out the cases are as far as numbers, but I'm having a hard time finding any questions that really benefit at all from having the tag. I'm also not proposing nuking it. There are still questions that benefit with the tag, it's just much more widely misused. I'm merely saying something needs to be done to clean it up. –  animuson Jul 24 '12 at 3:44
    
Yes, 1 in 5 cases that you handpicked. You said "...if we're going to keep it" which suggests you want to get rid of it. If you want to improve the tag wiki, then by all means - go for it. –  Wesley Murch Jul 24 '12 at 3:45
    
It's certainly a possibility, I'd much rather see it cleaned up though, then see where it goes from there. –  animuson Jul 24 '12 at 3:48
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I'm looking forward to the inevitable, eventual overhaul of the entire tagging system, but I really can't envision the "math" tag being banned/removed entirely. To answer your question "To what extent is the [math] tag actually useful?" I would say "when it's a programming question about math" and there are quite a few of those. –  Wesley Murch Jul 24 '12 at 3:57

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