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I only realized we have a tag the other day when someone added the tag to several questions containing Python code, and then someone else disputed the validity of the tag. But now we have 17 questions tagged that way, and a question just came in asking about how to code for orbit calculations with it - Having problems with 2d orbital elements from state vectors (in python). And one of our members has questioned whether it is on topic.

I have no idea what to do with these questions. I'm not really comfortable with having a Python tag*, but when I look at the questions so tagged, it does seem like it might help someone else as they might genuinely use that as a search term. So when do we handle those here?


*Though I'm really tempted to retag If I drop a feather from orbit, would it burn up or "hit" the ground? with it on the grounds of the comments below it.

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    $\begingroup$ Some of my posts had the tag added as a proposed edit recently; I rejected one and saw you'd already rejected the rest, thanks! It might be me that created the tag, I'm not sure, but I don't thing it's a good idea now. I think it's extremely helpful to be able to add short Python scripts from time to time, but I don't think that questions here should be about Python. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 5 '18 at 4:01
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Here's the thing about Python. It is an extremely popular choice for this type of thing because it has a bunch of great libraries, so I'm not sure we can avoid questions involving Python. As much as possible these questions should be about the actual implementation of space operations in Python and not the usage of a particular library, or the regular usage of Python. If NASA has pages focused on Python (https://disc.gsfc.nasa.gov/information/howto/596e684bcbdc835ca1df23c2) I think it makes sense for us to have a tag, but we need to carefully monitor its use, and someone should probably take the initiative to write up some guidelines in the tag wiki.

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    $\begingroup$ "and someone should probably take the initiative to write up some guidelines in the tag wiki" +1 $\endgroup$ – astrojuanlu May 6 '18 at 15:01
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When the question is about Python itself (a generic question on how to implement something, or about a programming error) it might be worth moving to Stack Overflow. On the other hand, if it's like "I have this script and the result looks wrong", or "I expected algorithm X from library Y to converge on problem Z, but instead I got this", perhaps it's worth discussing in this site.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a good summary. In the events that happened here (if I remember correctly) the tag was added to questions where they happened to contain python as a courtesy to back up the assertion of the question (e.g. why does the orbit do this? (and here's how I made this plot)) but the question was about orbital mechanics. Script was there just to show that the data wasn't made up. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 16 '18 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ I understand why one might want to add the tag there (see Python, click Python) but that's deviating from how tags should be used I think. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 16 '18 at 2:01

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