I've recently realized that the tag conflates questions about designing Integrated circuits and questions about off-the-shelf ICs.

Here's an screenshot illustrating what I mean: screenshot tag

Wouldn't it be better to have tags such "IC design" and "ICs", or "off-the-shell-ICs"? Sounds to me that the questions conflated now by "integrated circuit" don't have much to do with each other.

It's as if we had "java" tag to describe questions about Java and JavaScript.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Wow, hold on. JavaScript has nothing to do with Java. Nobody in their right mind would tag "Java" for "JavaScript". Better analogy is: it's as if a question on stack overflow was tagged "language". What language? Or is the question about language design? But apart from the analogy, you're right. In fact, this tag gives no relevant information. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Feb 22 at 12:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dim you're right, I might've taken it a bit too far. But good to see this question is finally getting a reaction! In case my petition is accepted, how does this work? someone is in charge to manually change the tags? \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Feb 22 at 12:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you think that adding a tag called IC-design would prevent it being incorrectly used? Is it such a big problem as it stands? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Feb 22 at 12:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Andyaka yes, in the long run, once people see more questions using the new tag. The current tag as it stands right now is pretty close to useless. \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Feb 22 at 12:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Andyaka perhaps the best way forward would be to delete the current tag and replace it by off-the-shelf-ICs (or something shorter I can't think of now) and "IC design". \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Feb 22 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


Just a few thoughts on this proposal:

  1. I'd propose the tag instead of .

  2. IC design is a big field. People who are experts in digital IC design are rarely experts in analog and vice versa. So it would make sense to split it up into (at least) digital and analog domains.

  3. We do have the tag already, which seems like a good place for questions about designing digital ICs, even if it doesn't strictly apply to very simple ones.

  4. That leaves the question of how to tag questions about designing analog and mixed-signal ICs. and seem reasonable, but it's hard to imagine new users will think to use these tags on their own instead of simpler (but ambiguous) ones.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I agree with all your points, much better than what I initially came up with. But I also have doubts about the last one. I think it might be best to leave it out; someone asking about switched-cap filtera or the usage of some chopping technique might always be using both tags, thus rendering the mixed-signal tag superfluous. \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Mar 4 at 7:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Although on a second thought, it could also help filter out [analog-ic-design] questions that are not mixed signal (duh!), so it could work as some sort of subtag. I'm ok either way with this one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Mar 4 at 13:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do we go from here? \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Mar 4 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Designalog, I think we need more than 2 upvotes to claim this is the will of the community. And I mostly ignore tags myself, so I don't know the process to modify them. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Mar 4 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Commercial-Off-The-Shelf or COTS is the name I've seen for IC's off the shelf. \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Mar 13 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VoltageSpike, my understanding is that COTS is a term used mainly in the world of military procurement, and applies to many other kinds of materials beyond ICs. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Mar 13 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VoltageSpike what needs to happen for these proposals to go through? I volunteer to correct the tagging \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Mar 14 at 13:22

I don't think it makes sense to have a separate tag for designing ICs versus using existing ones. If a question is asking about the design of an integrated circuit, it should simply state as much in the question body.

That said, I think questions asking about a specific IC should not use the tag whatsoever. I regard the tag as synonymous with generic integrated circuits or ICs in the broad sense. If someone is asking about using a buck regulator, although it may well be an IC, who cares? It's like tagging a question "electronics" on this site. It serves no practical purpose.

In the first and last of your examples, "integrated-circuit" has nothing to do with the question aside from "there are integrated circuits involved in this endeavor." The first example seems like the OP simply went overboard with tagging. The last one should have been tagged with identification.

That leaves the third example as the only one in a gray area. The OP is trying to identify an integrated circuit, but the question is really more about identification rather than anything pertaining to integrated circuits in general. I do, however, see that there could be some small value in tagging identification questions to indicate what type of component is being identified, making the tag somewhat purposeful there.

In sum, I don't think there should be a separate tag for IC design versus usage, but that's because the tag is often unnecessary or unhelpful in usage scenarios.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me give you an example. The tag [operational-amplifier] contains questions about designing with op-amps, as well as designing op-amps. The tag covers 2 layers of abstraction (outside/inside the op-amp). However, it's only about one component type. On the other hand, [integrated-circuit] can easily cover opamps, but any other IC type as well (regulators, current sources, ADCs, MUXes, etc), and on top of that, 2 layers of abstraction. It's only a bit better than what a [circuit] tag would do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Feb 22 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ And, on top of that, it lends itself to misuse because everyone who is looking for an IC will tag his/her question with [integrated-circuit], because they're looking for an integrated circuit after all, aren't they? I think a tag as such brings very little value; it's too general. My suggestion is to categorize them further into IC design (could be analog or digital), and using commercially available IC parts. This site says tags help categorizing questions such that it finds answers much quicker, shouldn't we strive for that? \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Feb 22 at 18:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You also say " If a question is asking about the design of an integrated circuit, it should simply state as much in the question body." You could nearly apply this same argument to not include any other tag, such as an ADC tag (which exists, btw), for instance. There are plenty of questions in IC design in this forum. Just like there's also a tag for PCB design, I cannot see why there wouldn't tags for IC design. The field is specialized and has enough factors to differentiate itself from other EE disciplines, so I don't get the "it doesn't make sense" to include such a tag. \$\endgroup\$
    – Designalog
    Feb 22 at 20:07

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