The usage excerpt for tag reads:

Use this tag for questions about source coding, error-correcting codes, error-detecting codes, and related algebraic and/or combinatoric constructions.

I think the use of the term "source coding" here is misleading. See for example How many "2-times" exist between two given digital times, where the OP clearly thinks this tag is relevant because he or she is interested in some theory to support a coding project. I am not sure what the best fix is. Perhaps change "source coding" to "source-coding and channel-coding in information theory", or just get rid of it altogether and leave the concepts of source- and channel-coding to the full description of the tag.

I am not familiar with the process for suggesting improvements to tags, so I didn't want just to dive in and change things. (Presumably suggested improvements do get reviewed?)

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    $\begingroup$ It might be worth using the same strategy as on some other tags which are commonly misused because they sound like something else. For instance, the algebraic-geometry tag tells users that "[t]his tag should not be used for elementary problems which involve both algebra and geometry." Perhaps something like this could be useful here? $\endgroup$
    – KReiser
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ @KReiser: that sounds like a good idea. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Arthan
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think that mentioning source coding in the tag excerpt is the source of the problem. My experience is that many programmers simply think that if a tag contains the word coding it is appropriate for all questions about programming. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ BTW, I think most of that particular tag excerpt is due to yours truly. I won't object to further edits simply because my English occasionally becomes unnecessarily convoluted. IIRC I edited the coding-theory tag wiki because somebody had misguidedly copy/pasted something there from the foreword (or a review?) of a single book. That in itself was not the problem, but it sounded like the author had read exactly one book on coding theory, so I felt competent enough to overrule. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ I would replace "source coding" with a leading phrase like "information encoding" or "signal encoding", while retaining the later mentions of coding theory viz algebra and combinatorics. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 4:54
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    $\begingroup$ It's just that source coding is standard terminology, so I would like to keep it. We have several questions for example about Kraft's inequality. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 4:39

1 Answer 1


Edit: I have made the change described below. https://math.stackexchange.com/tags/coding-theory/info

To summarize the suggestions in your post and the comments, I suggest we change the excerpt as follows.

Use this tag for questions about source-coding and channel-coding in information theory, error-correcting codes, error-detecting codes, and related algebraic and/or combinatoric constructions. This tag should not be used for questions about programming.


  • $\begingroup$ No objections from me. At some point I had the impression that pieces of advice when not to use this tag were supposed to go the wiki instead of the excerpt. But this piece of information is missing from the wiki as well. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I figured that new users, when selecting tags, will only look at the excerpt, so in order for the usage advice to have enough effect, it would need to be in the excerpt. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ That looks good to me. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Arthan
    Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ how about writing source coding (i.e., data compression); channel coding (i.e., error correction); would that help $\endgroup$
    – kodlu
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 21:02

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