I would recommend going with air-traffic-control, for the following reasons:
- It's much more easily discovered through auto tag completion
- It's a much better SEO benefit
We can then make atc a synonym of it if the use persists, which also solves auto tag completion of those that would naturally start typing the acronym instead of the phrase.
This isn't a blanket suggestion, as there are some things that just won't fit in a tag and require a creative compromise, but it's generally the best way to approach it.
I originally agreed with Tim, but have since changed my mind as we have progressed through the beta and have been creating more tags:
Aviation has tons of acronyms, and this can make it hard for new pilots and non-pilots to understand some of the conversations. However, it is also standard usage and there is a long list of them in the pilot-controller glossary (among other places). In addition:
- VERY rarely do I see "air traffic control" used in an aviation magazine or publication, using instead ATC.
- Pilots, air traffic controllers, and other experts will almost always use ATC.
- Many of the expanded acronyms will not fit in the 25 character limit that we have for tag names (FAR, AIM, EASA, etc.).
- If someone doesn't know what ATC stands for, they can simply hover over the tag and it will tell them "Air Traffic Control" (along with other information). Now they even learned (or were at least exposed to) another acronym and will probably recognize it in the future when they see it.
- If we "baby" everyone by not using the acronyms, then we won't be helping them learn and they will be just as lost when reading an aviation article or text somewhere else.
- Also, tag synonyms can be used to catch the people who don't know better and start typing "airtrafficcontrol" or "air-traffic-control".
I agree with lnafziger that there are simply too many acronyms and abbreviations in common use to expect to eliminate them. Stack Overflow doesn't use structured-query-language or remote-dictionary-server because no one talks that way... they say SQL or Redis. I think that's well understood, and no one would realistically advocate for tags like tacan or rnav to be spelled out long-form.
The reason I didn't comment on this question initially was because I think ATC is a weird fuzzy area where "air traffic control" is a phrase almost everyone who flies (as a pilot or commercial passenger) knows. So, having a spelled out version I think is appropriate in this case, and the solution of having atc synonymous with air-traffic-control doesn't bother me.
As far as SEO, the spelled out version is probably more helpful since a search for "atc" brings up many results which have nothing to do with aviation. This is going to be true of other tags such as taf and ils.
My opinion is that we shouldn't discourage people from using the abbreviated tags, because that's how most people talk. However, where it's practical to have a spelled out version as the canonical form that's a positive. I'm sure anyone who might become a moderator of this site, including myself, would be happy to maintain this mapping.
The abbreviations I think we need to most be on the look out for are any which could have multiple meanings (I can't think of any offhand, but I'm sure there are some) and those which are so specific/localized that only a small percentage of the community would immediately recognize and understand them.