Let's use tags for field-specific content and much more!

Following the discussion in How to best support field-specific Stan communities on Discourse we want to use tags to maintain field-specific content and generally to add more structure to the forums.

Field-specific communities

The primary reason to focus on tags now was to support field-specific communities, notably Ecology, led by @vianeylb. I granted Vianey Leader privileges to let her moderate the community more effectively. I’ve created a bunch of premade “application area” tags, but this is just a starting point and is in no way definitive.

To me, the most important feature of tags is that you can follow a tag, by clicking on it (either on a post that uses the tag or via the Tags link in the “Hamburger menu” and choosing the “Bell” icon (protip: you can also mute a tag, the same works for categories).


This way, you’ll be notified of new posts with the tag, so you can focus on supporting/following the fields close to your heart.

You can also redirect fans of specific application areas to a list of topics with that tag:, e.g., https://discourse.mc-stan.org/tag/ecology or use the tag in search.

Other tags

Generally, I think we should tag more, including model classes and other. At this phase, please tag liberally, it should help us to figure out how exactly we can use tags best. The responsibility of me and the community leaders would be to maintain tag synonyms/merges (let me know if you see a pair of tags that should be merged) and prune tags that are not useful.

Users at “Regular” level and above can also create new tags (and add them to other people’s posts - please do!).

Additional proposal: Remove some categories

Using tags well could help us simplify the category structure we have.

One thing that we could potentially also do would be to eliminate the “Interfaces” subcategories and use tags instead (we can enforce that at least one interface tag would be added to every post).

While at it we could also eliminate the following rarely used categories: “Google Summer of Code”, “Technical working group”, “Meetings” and possibly “Project Proposals” and merge them with either “Stan Governance” or “General” and add tags to distinguish them.

This is just a proposal for discussion as category structure was left out of the previous threads, so I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts.


I just want to bump this post up, to see if anybody has problem with using tags. With the help of the community leaders I’ve started adding tags for fields and model types and edited relevant post templates. Do you have any feedback on how that looks to you so far?

The categories are useful. I don’t think you can mute tags but you can mute categories. For example, a user who does not care about PyStan can mute the Interfaces>PyStan category. Muting is really important for people who get copies of each post via email.

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@ariddell You can mute/watch/… tags exactly as categories (but it is a bit more hidden - you need to visit the tag page first)

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So, taking myself as an example and assuming the Interfaces category was removed, how would I mute the topics currently posted on Interfaces->RStan? (I currently do this.)

I would still want to see posts in Developers which are tagged rstan.

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That would probably be impossible in this setting.

Perhaps we could keep the categories, remove the rstan and pystan (etc) tags but add “R”, “Python”, etc tags. That would allow a post in the Developer category which had a tag for the relevant programming language.