I hereby propose to ban , as well as should it arise and any other similar meta-tag.

First, let me reiterate the main generic arguments in the blog post. These tags do not indicate the topic of the question, they indicate its breadth or depth. They cannot work as the sole tag on a question. They are hardly any use in searches. There is no reason to subscribe to them or ignore them. Their applicability is subjective at best; at worst they highlight questions that are not suitable for a question and answers format (not constructive or too broad).

On Math, the description of the soft-question tag is

For questions that don't admit a definitive answer. Please do not ask too many of these.

Saying that a question with this tag is probably no good for the site does not bode well.

CSTheory has a different description of soft-question:

A soft question is a question (possibly subjective) about the field of theoretical computer science as opposed to being a question in theoretical computer science.

And CSTheory's description of big-picture is:

for a "broad, overall view or perspective of an issue or problem."

which comes back to “probably doesn't fit in the Q&A format”.

I can see one use for , which is to highlight questions that provide an introductory overview of a topic. But Stack Exchange already has a mechanism for that: list the question in the topic's tag wiki.

If your argument for having those tags is that they do no harm on Math and CSTheory, please keep in mind that CS is likely to have a larger programmer crowd, weened on Stack Overflow, where such tags are routinely burninated and questions such as lists of books¹ or career considerations² tend to have far worse quality and are usually closed after some conflict.

¹ Tag wiki.
² Academia, if any

  • $\begingroup$ Would questions about computer science as a field be off topic here? It seems those type of questions would be tagged soft-question. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2012 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ @OghmaOsiris Do you have an example in mind? If so, please link it here. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2012 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have any in particular, but if someone were to ask like, "how important is commenting your code in the real world?" or something like that, I would think it would be tagged as a soft-question. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2012 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ @OghmaOsiris No. That would be closed as non-constructive or off-topic (toss a coin), unless the focus was on sociological or economic studies, in which case soft-question would not be warranted. I think you're making my case. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2012 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ It was just an example that I came up with off the top of my head, I didn't expect that specific question to be on topic. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2012 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ I removed the tag from my question as I could not come up with a convincing reason for it to be there. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Mar 10, 2012 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like a good idea to me. Such tags don't convey any useful information about a question. A good question is a good question whether it's about a soft subject or not, so we shouldn't use a tag to excuse questions we wouldn't otherwise accept here. $\endgroup$
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Mar 14, 2012 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ What about questions like "What are the applications of X in Y?". Are those types of questions allowed? $\endgroup$
    – Daniil
    Mar 17, 2012 at 5:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Daniil: This question is not about forbidding questions, but the tag. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Mar 30, 2012 at 6:25
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    $\begingroup$ I think you are misunderstanding their use on Theoretical Computer Science, and similar other sites (and also on [MO]). They are not subjective as you interpret them, and they do give information about the content of the question. I guess part of the confusion arises from the name soft-question. Career questions, questions about teaching, questions about books, ... are generally categorized as "soft-questions" on cstheory in the sense that they don't have a mathematically right answer. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Mar 30, 2012 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe another name like non-technical would serve better. I will try to come up with a reasonable tag name that does not cause confusion. IIRC, we had a discussion about the confusion it causes for people from outside at some point on Theoretical Computer Science Meta, but again IIRC the community decided that they understand it well and should keep it. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Mar 30, 2012 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh I don't think I misunderstand the meaning of the tag (you haven't said anything that disagrees with what I understand). I oppose having a tag with this meaning: I see the potential for arguing about it, but I don't see any benefit of having the tag. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2012 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think you have a problem with the meaning of the tag, you can think of it as an umbrella for tags like education, career, etc. It seems that having them separately is working fine so far so the tag is not needed (at least for the moment). Since there seems to be an agreement about not having the soft-question tag I suggest that you remove it completely (ban it), so people will not use it in future. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    May 17, 2012 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ imho broadness is discovered over time by "too many answers". imho there are questions that are broad that deserve an answer, but have no or few answers posted, in which case there is really no issue. as for soft-question, to me the point of that is that its not asking for a rigorous answer, which is quite appropriate among humans and not robots.... wonder at times if there is too much navelgazing about the nature of questions and answers on stackexchange & if the software encourages that.... imho tags behave better when not "policed" as much as they are at times.... $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Sep 27, 2012 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ @vzn You seem to be confusing popular questions with appropriate questions. Stack Exchange is not about popularity, it's about providing useful answers. High-score questions are not necessarily good questions. Please read the faq. $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2012 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


Looking at the questions currently tagged , it's all over the map: education, epistemology, I-can't-think-of-a-tag, I-put-that-in-for-no-discernable-reason… It's clear that the tag doesn't mean anything.

Please burninate and blacklist .

The questions that still have the tag will be just fine without it.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm all for it; I'm not a big fan of meta-tags in general anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Patrick87
    Nov 19, 2013 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ Seconded. Or thirded, for that matter. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Nov 20, 2013 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, I don't find it useful either. $\endgroup$
    – Juho
    Nov 21, 2013 at 18:12

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