# Should we have a reference-request tag?

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Dori made a good point about the use of meta-tags, and brought up the general policy on their use. The math.se site, however, uses homework succesfully, but it is well constrained via a faq.

So, what are the merits of having a reference-request tag? Mathoverflow has one, and is it similarly useful to us?

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I think that reference-request is not a meta-tag in the sense that "beginner" is.

If I ask a basic question under "beginner" or "help-a-mathematician", the answer might change slightly in detail, but a non-beginner or non-mathematician could ask the exact same question without the tag.

On the other hand, everyone who looks for the article that introduced superstrings to the literature labels the question as "reference-request". It is a description of the question, not of the motivation of the asker or the type of answer.

If "reference-request" were replaced by, say, "literature-search", would it still be regarded as meta tag?

To give a concrete example (that is not appropriate for this site for other reasons):

Say I vaguely remember that I read a story about explaining friction by little devils and countering every objection by the addition of properties of the little devils and now I want to find this story.

If I wanted to know if the same question has been asked, I would be more certain that the question was labelled reference-request than friction, because maybe someone else only remembered the little devils and the moral for theory-building.

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answered Sep 15, 2011 by (0 points)
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I have mixed feeling about , but generally being against it.

First, it passes Jeff's meta-tag test, as it cannot serve as the only tag (unlike a differemt gray-area tag, ).

Second, it there is very dim, and very subjective, distinction between questions that needs RR tag and questions that does not need it. In principle as an answer for every question references are highly appreciated. If the tag indicated that only answers with references are needed, I don't feel it is a good thing for Q&A site. Moreover, an analogous tag seems ridiculous.

However, once I encountered a problem, when asking a RR question (I knew a solution but was curious if there are other ones, I should refer) , but my intentions were misinterpreted. Nevertheless, such issues (reference request, complexity or inclination of desired answers) should be regulated by content of the question, not a tag (IMHO).

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answered Sep 28, 2011 by (1,255 points)

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