I recently got the urge to update the tag-wiki for finite fields. Basically because I wanted to add that second warning there with a view of trying to prevent further confusion about the unfortunate (but not too well known) overloading of algebraic terms (primitive element, primitive polynomial) that are in common use in the $\Bbb{F}_q$-community, but occasionally generated confused responses from well-meaning members. The worrying aspect of that was that newbies (correctly!) using those terms were mistakenly thought to be confused instead.

Do you think that this is an appropriate use of tag-wiki?

I thought so, too :-) Anyway, that lead to a need to include examples, i.e. references. I am unhappy with Wikipedia here, and I prefer to use on-site sources as much as possible anyway. So I added a link to an earlier answer of mine, where I explained how a primitive element gives us a straightforward algorithm for generating a discrete logarithm table - an integral part of many computer implementations of finite fields. Unfortunately that answer was surrounded by a lot of coding theoretical chit-chat. As answering a couple of recent questions in my adopted tag would have been aided by having such tables for $\Bbb{F}_8$ and $\Bbb{F}_{16}$ at hand, I decided to publish a local copy of them in this self-answered "question".

I'm sad to say the formulation of that Q&A leaves a lot to be desired. I will keep working on it, but seek to keep the prime-time bumps to a minimum.

As self-answered questions have not been always warmly welcomed, I want to solicit opinions about, whether this is an abuse of the site SW? Note, the thread is now CW (thanks to Arthus Fischer for the help). My planned use of this is to refer to it in the tag-wiki and other answers. Rep-farming is to be ruled out. The idea is to partially outsource the tag-wiki, and otherwise similar to Joriki's idea of modularizing some answers. Currently two of my other answers refer to that Q&A.

But I'm not sure, so I want to hear your opinions.

Is it ok to write a CW self-answered Q&A solely to be able to refer to it elsewhere?


How do you see the future of tag-wikis in general? They are oft neglected. Does anybody read them?

Do take this also as an encouragement to work on tag-wikis of your choice! The newbies don't read them as much as they should, but my thinking is that experienced members might benefit from having "standard" sources of terminology conflicts/overloading explained in tag-wikis.

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    $\begingroup$ To answer your last question: I read the tag-wikis and I really think that improving them increases the overall quality of the site. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R Dec 3 '13 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ I try to improve tagging (at least on questions which I understand sufficiently). When in doubt which tag is appropriate, I always look on the tag-wiki and tag-excerpt. So yes, there are people who do read tag-wikis. (On each tag-wiki you can see the number of people who have viewed it. But more people probably see the tag-excerpt, since it is shown automatically when adding tags to a question.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 3 '13 at 18:39

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