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The is used rather widely currently. I just wrote the tag-wiki to correspond to the question that currently use it and I think this is a good use, but see problems with this (especially it overlaps with the concept of scheduling.)

The current tag-wiki I wrote:

Automation refers to the concept that a program does things by itself
without being supervised by a user in this very moment. If you want to
instruct a program to do something at a given time and to given targets
by itself this is automation.

I added this example:

"Send E-Mail later" is not automation as you will have to click "Send now" by yourself.
"Send E-Mail at 14:00 tomorrow" is automation.
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TL;DR

I suggest we leave as-is, and create an additional when required. I disagree the two are synonyms. A scheduler is exactly that: execute a task at a given time. Automation is something that might include a scheduler, but does a lot more things.

Details

There are quite complex automation systems like tasker on Android which are much more than simple schedulers. I guess differences are best explained by examples:

  • would be e.g. Cron, and the "Send later" example. Even an alarm clock would match this tag.
  • goes far beyond this, and
    • a) reacts on certain triggers, e.g.
      • "if battery-low then disable network"
      • "if headphones-connected then launch player and set volume to X"
      • "if mail-body contains RegExp then mark it spam"
    • b) connects several "manual task" to a complex job (macro), so if you launch the macro, the whole thing goes off (and the user does not have to start each task manually)

Without adding more to this list, I think it's clear that tagging e.g. an alarm clock "automation" would look ridiculous – while tagging the application described in case a) a scheduler would not be a match at all.

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  • Would you have a look at the questions currently tagged "automation" and suggest which would better be tagged "scheduling"? – Angelo Fuchs Feb 15 '14 at 15:40
  • also, a scheduler is only a specialized automation for the trigger "When time X is reached then do Y" – Angelo Fuchs Feb 15 '14 at 15:41
  • Admitted. Still, would you call your alarm clock an "automation tool"? – Izzy Feb 15 '14 at 15:45
  • maybe not, but if they are synonyms and I type "scheduling" and get "automation" automatically that wouldn't surprise me. – Angelo Fuchs Feb 15 '14 at 15:51
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I suggest we keep and create as synonym to it.

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  • These names mean very different things. It doesn't make any sense for them to be synonyms. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 16 '14 at 21:49

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