There are several questions on this meta regarding acronyms in tags and questions, and it's undoubtedly a tricky issue when it comes to Aviation... there are multitudes of acronyms involved in both direct Aviation (ATC, VOR, VMC, ILS) and the areas surrounding it eg bookings (GDS, PNR, TTL, ADM)... and that's before we even start explaining jargon and technical words:

Example meta posts

And here's a great (non meta) example of a question asking for a definition for a word used by ATC (company, referring to "The same airline as you"), while using another acronym (ATC)....

The simple solution to this is to add tags eg , which gives a quick description for some of the most common ones... this works, but have to be added manually and rely on the asker/answerer adding them, or somene having the time to (laboriously) edit them.

So to ask my 2-part question

  1. Would it be possible to include an auto-replace system for replacing common (or uncommon) acronyms and jargon? eg using the html <abbr> tag to include a definition?
  2. Assuming it's possible, should we do it?

1 Answer 1


Short answer to Part 1: Nope.

  • The abbreviation HTML tag doesn't work on Stack Exchange sites
    (and as best I can determine there's no plans to make it work).
    The <abbr> tag solution relies on everyone using it consistently (or some crude auto-replace algorithm, which would demonstrate its inherent brokenness quickly and probably be unpopular), so it's not really a great solution anyway.
    Also as Jeff pointed out on the Meta.SE question I linked to above generally a link to an external reference (or a question here) explaining the abbreviation is far more useful than simply saying "VOR stands for VHF Omnidirectional Range." (and good luck figuring out what the heck that does buddy!)

  • The tag system doesn't quite do what you're describing.
    exists - It's a synonym for . If someone searches for [ATC] in the search box they'll get sent to the Air Traffic Control tag page, but that relies on (a) a synonym tag existing (we're good about that usually), and (b) the person knowing that square brackets are the magic "Find me a tag with this name" search syntax.
    (Using long-form names in tags was a result of the discussion on Using acronyms in tags. )

Short answer to Part 2: It's worth doing, and it's been done (the FAA just hasn't seen fit to make it searchable).

Longer answer: There's a certain extent to which "speaking the language" is essential in any technical field. Aviation isn't an exception. The basic expectation is that if someone wants to know what "standard" abbreviations like ATC, VOR, RNAV, ILS, RVR, etc. mean they'll be motivated enough to Google (or ask on the site / in chat).
On questions asking for basic explanations we can (and do) include the details in answers, often supplemented by external links that give detailed explanations, but to do that on every question is a bit much (a question asking about a VOR approach shouldn't spend time explaining what a VOR is and how it works).

For non-standard slang like company (which does not appear in the Pilot/Controller Glossary) this site's Q&A format is probably the closest thing to a canonical reference.


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