Having the first appearance of every acronym expanded helps newer people.

But it adds a lot of extra words if we make sure that the first instance of every acronym in each post is expanded. We really don't need to see , "Local Area Network (LAN)" in every post.

I'm suggesting a standard way of marking up acronyms. Editors can swing by and tweak existing posts.

Why use the link markup (BGP)[...]?

Just to get the mouse-over effect of acronym expansion without having the extra words always there.

I'm suggesting linking to our NE tag's page, (which never 404s, just gives a tag search and tag info if it's been edited to exist,) so that the general link markup would be valid.

If a reader needs more information on LAN, BGP, etc, they can open a tab and go search the Internet.

Why not TAG them?

(aside: [tag:BGP] leads to automatic tag treatment like .)

  • They don't look like capitalized acronyms; [tag:...] downcases.
  • They visually stand out more than simply "BGP" would when linked.

Which acronyms?

Ok, not every acronym.

Of course, there's no harm in linking every acronym -- it's just a link when you read. But we don't want the trivial edits of people editing in a link for the IP acronym.

For example:

OP innocently writes:

I have a problem with GRE.

an editors swings by and adds a link:

I have a problem with [GRE](/tags/gre "Generic Routing Encapsulation").

Markdown renders that as:

I have a problem with GRE.

If you hover over the anchor, the title attribute of the link pops up to reveal the acronym.

Also notice if you click on it, the tag has some relevant posts, but doesn't (at the moment) have a tag wiki; So it's a good example of an editors dropping in an acronym link to a lightly used tag.

(aside: Because this post is on Meta, I had to put a full URL in the example just above. Out on Main the link url is simply /tags/gre.)

4 Answers 4


I think this is great idea, especially for more the obscure acronyms. Yes, we all know what a LAN is but we still might get readers wandering in who don't and the have been some, especially non-Cisco, acronyms that made me break out Google.

And yes, the reader can go search for them but the whole point of this forum is to be the place with the answer so why not add them? It's not a lot of effort and if you don't add it to your question then someone else will probably come along and add if after they get back from Google.


Chiming in to point out what would make this especially useful is if folks are able to actually take the time (as it permits) to add in at least a short tag wiki entry for the acronym expansion. It's one thing to have a mouseover that tells you what the acronym stands for, but it's another to click on it and be taken to a 404 page.

  • Note that having tag wiki descriptions which ONLY expand an acronym has been explicitly deprecated by SE, to wit Robert Cartaino's post: meta.networkengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/46/… Jun 5, 2013 at 10:58
  • 1
    That would make sense. I wonder if there's a way to change the link to wikipedia or the first page of google search results with a search string of "LAN" (for example)? Jun 5, 2013 at 15:21
  • ..."where to link to" is part of what is up for discussion. But yes, we can link to anything. My Q only suggests linking to the NE tag page, (which never 404s, just gives a tag search and tag info if it's been edited to exist,) so that the general link markup would be valid. I was only trying to get acronym expansion via the mouse-over effect; If readers need to know what a LAN (or BGP, whatever) is, then they can open a tab and search. Jun 5, 2013 at 15:30
  • 1
    Oh great, now I can see how it's being done (with the expansion in quotes after the link itself)! That makes more sense. Sorry, the actual question where I saw this done for the first time didn't put effort into making the link itself, so I just got sent to a 404 page if I clicked on it. Now I can actually see that you can set the aref to whatever you'd like. Awesome! Jun 5, 2013 at 15:37
  • Thanks for your comments. I didn't realize it wasn't clear enough. I've expanded the Q to try make what I'm suggesting more clear. Jun 5, 2013 at 15:42

Anyone coming here should know what LAN stands for, I would think. But maybe this could apply to acronyms that are beyond perhaps the CCENT/Network+ level. For example, a newcomer might not know what BGP stands for, but they'll almost certainly know what LAN stands for. On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't spell out any acronyms or spend time tagging them simply because it isn't difficult to open a new tab and type "BGP" into a search engine.

It seems like this site is more about getting answers to specific questions instead of a one-stop-shop of all network engineering knowledge :-)

  • 1
    I was going to mention this as well. If there are things I don't know when browsing the site I usually open a new tab and do a web search for it. So I don't feel an acronym tag is entirely necessary. As a side note, when I make tag wiki edits I try to make sure the full term is written out and the acronym is included.
    – Carlo M
    Jun 3, 2013 at 1:50
  • @WaxTrax: Why presume anything? (e.g., "anyone coming here [knows] LAN") My question – it's really a suggestion looking for support – is that with just a wee bit of effort, we can leave mouse-over bread crumbs to ensure no one needs to go look up acryonyms. Jun 3, 2013 at 13:17
  • 2
    I understand, and if someone wants to take the time to do that, more power to them. It just personally feels like a wasted effort. It's just my opinion, it's not right or wrong :-)
    – WaxTrax
    Jun 3, 2013 at 13:24

We already have a great feature for this: tags.

I'm sure that after some time acronyms, which are at least a bit important, will have a tag. If there would be no tag after one or two years, I guess the acronym would really nead an explanation.

Tags can have a short explanation what they mean and a longer text in addition. So, we could simply mention , , , and people can click and see what's meant. there's even the syntax [tag:eigrp] we can use when posting.

Capitalization? Tags are written lowercase. Perhaps no big problem, today also many acronyms are written in lowercase and used in software, such as protocol names such as tcp, ssh, icmp in Cisco ACLs.

  • I had considered this. I really like how short the tag markup is... but it lacks the mouse-over reveal of the acronym expansion. So that's why I like the slightly more markup anchoring to the tag's page that I described. Jun 5, 2013 at 3:09
  • 1
    @CraigConstantine I missed something and see you're already meaning pretty the same but with another syntax. I see your markup works well! Perhaps a feature request for better mouse-over text for tags would be good - always "show questions tagged xyz" could be replaced by the short tag info with a link.
    – Stefan
    Jun 5, 2013 at 7:39
  • yeah! What you've described would nail and and trump my more general link-them-to-tag-page gymnastics. Jun 5, 2013 at 10:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .