Would a 'derivations' tag be useful? i.e. for questions asking about the derivation of established laws and equations. In my experience, understanding derivations (at least of college-level physics material) can be extremely useful and insightful---often far better than memorizing a result. A 'derivations' tag might be good to give these types of questions/answers more attention, and let people especially fond-of/expert-at them find them more easily.

My primary concern with such a tag might be that it's too meta. Being a derivation, however, does directly address the content of the question itself and the relevant skills/material required to address it.

An additional modifier might be good to distinguish "derivation" as in, 're-deriving an equation'; as apposed to derivative 'derivation', as in an anti-integral. Especially for non-native english speakers, this could be an issue.

This post ("Rigorous treatment of blackbody radiation"), for example, might be a good candidate for such a tag.

  • $\begingroup$ More on meta tags $\endgroup$ – rob Jan 11 '17 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ @rob thanks for pointing that out, I've added some discussion about that in the below answer. $\endgroup$ – DilithiumMatrix Jan 11 '17 at 16:22

Thanks to @rob for linking to Atwood's Meta-Tag post (which I somehow always forget about...). To quote:

[1] The reason meta-tags are a problem is that they do not describe the content of the question. They describe some other aspect of the question, like the author's skill level[...]

[2] Meta-tags are actually [...] dependent tags. These are tags that don't say anything by themselves - you can't tell what the question is about unless they're paired with some other tag[...].

Re [1]: I'd argue that 'derivation' is not consistent with [1] in that, like the much discussed 'homework' tag, it does describe the content of the question itself, and seeing the 'derivation' tag would indeed provide a keyword/description of the content of the question.

Re [2]: I think [2] does apply, but only marginally. A 'thermal-physics' could go-it-alone, and be perfectly sufficient, while a 'derivation' tag would be missing the actual physical content of the question. But, that is to say 'derivation' would not be a complete description tag, much like 'computational-physics', 'forces', or 'mathematical-physics'. So I personally don't think [2] is a deal-breaker. Comments welcome

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    $\begingroup$ I think when Jeff writes about "content of the question", he means to exclude things like "derivation" or "homework". He's talking about the topics involved in the question. The idea is that there will be people with expertise in a tag area, and they can use the tags as a way to identify which questions they're likely to be able to answer. E.g. it's quite reasonable that someone might specialize in, or have particular expertise in, thermal/computational/mathematical physics, or force problems (think of a student). That's not likely to be the case with derivations. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jan 11 '17 at 20:15

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