I was thinking about creating tags for some famous or important people, like Erdős (that already exists, as pointed out by Joonas: erdos), that could be used for questions related to their work. What do you think?

Reasons for would include that it makes search easier for a specific problem you recall seeing on MO and trying to find. Another is that it would give a better overview for someone looking at problems related to Erdős. Also, it might give extra interest, people might add the Erdős tag to their favorites.

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    $\begingroup$ Questions related to specific individuals often contain their names and are therefore easy to find with the search feature. Moreover, many famous mathematicians have worked in many fields, and people today probably specialize in those fields separately instead of specializing in all the work of a a great mathematician. Can you elaborate on why such a tag would be useful? $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 21 '15 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Joonas: Added. $\endgroup$ – domotorp Jan 21 '15 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ No, and I see even less point in making a meta-tag for Erdős. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 21 '15 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ It seems that we already have an Erdős tag: erdos. Should we remove that tag from those questions if people are against introducing an Erdős tag (as current votes suggest)? $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 21 '15 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Joonas: This is funny, I should have checked before asking... Well, at least this seems to show that many people agree with me. $\endgroup$ – domotorp Jan 21 '15 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ Oh come on. Who decides who is famous? $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Jan 21 '15 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Yemon: Is this the same Who from first base? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 21 '15 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ I think you should use the names in ascii version, f.e. domotorp instead of "dömötörp" and "erdos" instead of "Erdős", and having tags for well-known mathematician would make the site better. $\endgroup$ – user44394 Jan 22 '15 at 8:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Peter: This is not really related to the question, but I agree with you, someone edited my question and changed the spelling. $\endgroup$ – domotorp Jan 22 '15 at 8:31
  • $\begingroup$ O.k. The essence was the second half (I suggest to have tags for well-known mathematicians). Anyways, you can always edit your question as you wish, or revert into one of its previous versions. $\endgroup$ – user44394 Jan 22 '15 at 8:33
  • $\begingroup$ Tags cannot contain special characters. That part of the discussion is moot. (Except there is also for Hungarian a thing as for German to write "oe" instead of "ö"; out of general curiosity I would be interested in a reply to this.) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 22 '15 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: During the time of telegrams and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was customary to use the German notations, but nowadays I think most people prefer to just write o for ö (which is btw not the same as ő in Erdős). This often causes troubles, like I cannot self check-in, as my reservation by the travel agancy is for Domotor but my passport encodes my name as Doemoetoer. $\endgroup$ – domotorp Jan 22 '15 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reply. I guess it really makes more sense to just drop it, since reducing ö and ő to the same thing does not even really solve the problem. // @StefanKohl I am not sure what exactly you refer to when you talk about "the AMS"; in various AMS publications there are certainly diacritics. But possibly it is about search in MathSciNet. However, I essentially agree with you, and argued longer ago in favor of using kahler instead of kaehler in tag. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 22 '15 at 11:14

Since other "named" tags got mentioned, I would like to make some general remarks first.

I see (at least) three different types of tags or tagging involving the name of a mathematician, and I think it is important to keep them separate.

  1. The purpose of and are to signal that a question is such that Bill Johnson and Noam D. Elkies, respectively, seem like "canonical" respondents. These tags are a reference to two key-users, something like an in-joke, part of MO-folklore, or something along these lines. Anyway, they cannot be measured according to the usual standards of a tag; would be another tag in that category.

  2. Tags for mathematics named after a certain mathematician. We have several of them. Over time we tried to make them "specific" by which I mean that different notions named after the same mathematician have different tags and/or the name of the tag is the notion not the person. There is still some work to be done in this direction, for example is still a bit unclear. Though it is at least not "gauss."

  3. Tags about (the work of) a mathematician. Some question about specific mathematicians are on-topic. In my mind there is no reason a priori why there shouldn't be a tag "erdos" to tag questions about Erdős (or his contributions in a specific way). And the same goes for any mathematician about who (or whose work) there is a meaningful number of questions.

To sum this up, I think we can have such name-tags if there is a need for a specific tag. Can you find, say, five questions about some given mathematician? If yes, I will not object if you tag them like this. (The "you" is an abstract you.) If no, the tag seems pointless. (Obviously there is nothing "holy" about five, but please let us say at least two, single used tags get eventually auto-deleted.)

However, we should be careful as to still keep type 3 and type 2 above separate. This is an indirect reason I can see somewhat against these tags (and this is further motivation to try to keep their number somewhat under control via imposing that threshold above). It would not be a good idea to tag some general question about as and possibly in addition . And, in my mind, there is no questions whether this will happen, the only question is how often it will happen.

  • $\begingroup$ The ask- tags were discussed before, here or on tea. Do you happen to remember exactly where? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 22 '15 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: Both are near the top of the list at meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/642/… , though it seems no one took it seriously enough to put the result of the vote into effect. I’m not aware of other discussion here. $\endgroup$ – Emil Jeřábek Jan 22 '15 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: mainly I'd have mentioned the thread Emil gives. Here is an old one on tea giving the historical question where ask-j was created. This is me complaining about ask-n and this is me getting Will J. to not create more. Meanwhile I made my piece with them. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 22 '15 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Emil and quid: Thanks. I probably meant both these threads. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 22 '15 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ I'm probably the main "no one" @Emil is referring to. To clarify and summarize: The two ask- tags have nearly zero semantic value, there wouldn't be a loss if they disappeared. They haven't been removed since these two tags were much less problematic than some more pressing tagging issues. In both cases, the origin of the tag was a 'joke' which is only a distant memory by now. On the positive side, there is some evidence that Bill does monitor the ask-johnson tag though, contrary to what the tag suggests, Bill doesn't always answer such questions. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jan 23 '15 at 0:45
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    $\begingroup$ FYI: I just merged ask-noam into nt.number-theory since it only had two questions and it was unlikely to be of much further use. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jan 23 '15 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Francois: Sorry, I didn't mean to pressure you to action. I don't think the tag is doing any harm. $\endgroup$ – Emil Jeřábek Jan 23 '15 at 11:16

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