This is my reply to How should abbreviations be handled?. It is here posted as a dedicated question for the site community to discuss, and hopefully (+: approve.

If the Stackexchange framework supports the process the site glossary may be a blog-post, or even simply a specific question with the title Glossary as is done here.

The answers could have relevant hyperlink, abbreviation, acronym, and description. A user could post an answer to add a term. The system would take care of the edit history, and site user sensibility would take care of the suitability of the term itself by way of upvote/downvote/flag for attention mechanism.

The glossary question itself could (assuming again the SE framework is so flexible) be made available on the 'Ask Question' page. This could allow any incoming user to refer/add to the glossary as necessary.

Of course it is moot how many people would choose to utilize/contribute to such a facility. Those who do may well be the persons who even as yet provide references/quotes. For those who do not - a 'Glossary' question may perhaps provide a visible option to do the right thing

  • $\begingroup$ Thoughts please, people? If James' post remains the only reply I may just proceed with hte attempt to create the glossary question here. You have been warmed!!! (+: $\endgroup$
    – Everyone
    Sep 7, 2013 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ It's been suggested that links to external glossaries might be helpful. Anyone have any likely candidates? $\endgroup$ Mar 17, 2014 at 17:55

3 Answers 3


Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, tag wikis might be just the thing. Most of the commonly used tags on this site have short definition (exerpts) that explain how the tag ought to be used. I'm not aware of any tags that yet have full descriptions, but these are extremely common on more mature sites. They may even take on a form resembling short Wikipedia articles. These are particularly relevant to the operation of the site and how it approaches the topic.

More general glossaries are better handled by linking to external sources within a post:

$I_{sp}$ (specific impulse)

If you can't find a succinct external resource (and you are sure the term is not generally understood) you might try asking a question on the site itself. This works especially well if you also provide an answer, if you are able.


Yes we can, it sounds from your description in your question (and linked example) that we can. All that is lacking is the creation. Barring some answer that points to a better solution then Stack Exchange Glossary - Dictionary of Commonly-Used Terms I say go for it using the existing model.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It is unfortunate that posts do not support internal links (not even to headers). This means that for a glossary (like that linked) an entry can only reference and not link to other entries. (I asked about the existence of such on meta.writers, but apparently I was not clear that I was thinking mainly of links internal to a question+answers. [Perhaps I should be bold and make a feature request at MSO--after checking that such has not already been declined.]) $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2013 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ @PaulA.Clayton - That could be solved by having an alphabetical index in the question itself, and then each answer covering at most some small number of letters in the index. Problem is, the voting on answers could shuffle their order. But the internal links could still work, at least to some degree. $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Sep 9, 2013 at 2:01
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave Even without voting, equally scored answers would be randomly arranged (I think). This also still would require some scanning to find references, but it may be the best that can be done with current constraints. $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2013 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ Apparently a request has been made for internal link support over three and a half years ago. It still does not have an official status (declined, deferred, or planned). Perhaps an upvote campaign might help? :-/ (Thanks Jon Ericson for pointing this out.) $\endgroup$ Sep 10, 2013 at 1:30

I disagree.

My reasoning? I haven't seen it anywhere before - mSO doesn't have a list of programming terms, mSU doesn't have a list of computer terms, etc.

I am not however saying that we shouldn't just because no one else has - my main reasoning is that I have a hard time seeing people using it - it would be pretty hard for me to get in in y workflow to add an entry for every term I use in my answers.

Also, it doesn't seem like something that we should have on our Meta site - it isn't really about the site itself - and it would almost be better off as a question on the main site. However, it would be closed as too broad there, which I would take as a red flag for the entire idea.

  • $\begingroup$ Your main argument against is for personal perception of other peoples use of a glossary, other then that you argument to have the glossary in main space with an exception to the overly broad rule; seems to be a thought worth considering. $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2013 at 10:41

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