A number of meta tags are still present on Stack Overflow. A previous thread identified some (especially Aarobot's answer). Please kill them.

Some tags are likely to indicate bad questions. Before the tags are killed, or maybe even instead of banning them, their questions should be reviewed for closing.

A few tags may be grandfathered in but should at least be banned for new questions.

A few I'm not sure of:

  • , , , , : seems a jumble of uselessness and computational-foo missing its hyphen.
  • , , ? the HTML meta use is legitimate, but they're getting a lot of misuse.
  • ? gets some misuse for , mathematical real numbers, floating point numbers (which are admittedly called “real” many some programming languages), x86 real mode, RealPlayer, real estate(!)…
  • ? (does it have a legitimate technical use in some programming community?)
  • 3
    Because of the whole HTML Meta tag, it really does make handling the [meta] tag or any derivative that is intended to refer to it very... troublesome.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jun 3, 2011 at 14:46
  • 4
    [related] in incest trees?
    – random
    Jun 3, 2011 at 14:55
  • 1
    I'm going through and voting to close all of the [self-answer] questions. The authors can write a blog post in the future.
    – user7116
    Jun 3, 2011 at 16:49
  • No more questions tagged [self-answer]. Voted to close the low quality ones. Flagged a few for attention.
    – user7116
    Jun 3, 2011 at 17:00
  • 2
    @sixlettervariables: Self-answers are ok. Each question should be evaluated on merit, independently of whether the asker answered it. It's only the tag that's useless. Jun 3, 2011 at 17:01
  • @six, I wish you hadn't untagged them so quickly. Now it's harder for the rest of us to look through them to vote to close the ones that are low-quality. @everyoneElse: Not impossible, though! See stackoverflow.com/users/7116/sixlettervariables?tab=activity
    – Pops
    Jun 3, 2011 at 17:15
  • @Gilles: the act of self tagging is a clue its low quality. @Popular: hadn't considered that, will do in the future.
    – user7116
    Jun 3, 2011 at 17:51
  • Thanks for pointing me here, [learning] definitely fits to this. A lot of these "legacy" tags are no longer being used in newer questions as Stack Overflow's purpose is more well defined than it was when it started. [learning] was just one of those tags that are still being used in newer questions and I wanted to put a stop to that. Might as well put a stop on them all. Jun 4, 2011 at 1:31
  • @Popular: I'm considering working through [tip-and-tricks]. Should I add an answer to this question detailing my findings or should I start a new question.
    – user7116
    Jun 8, 2011 at 16:06
  • @six, I'm no expert, but I think an answer here could be okay, since that tag is explicitly already mentioned in the body of the question.
    – Pops
    Jun 8, 2011 at 16:13
  • For the record, a few weeks ago, I’ve removed the development-practice tag from a few questions as well. Aug 23, 2020 at 21:02

3 Answers 3


The following are burninated:

I'm not so sure about as I think that with some discipline that one might be salvageable. It has a kinda-sorta-approved analog in .

tag burninated

  • could one-liner get burninated too? Most of the questions with the tag have no need for it.
    – user7116
    Jun 8, 2011 at 16:33
  • 1
    @six this is done Jun 8, 2011 at 20:51

is off-topic and useless everywhere: if the question is a rant, it needs to die. Ironically, there is a Ruby library named Rant and questions about such would be on-topic on Stack Overflow. There are several questions tagged but are really just implementation questions by a frustrated user. They could safely be retagged (and, optionally cleaned up) and be fine on Stack Overflow.

The recommendation series of tags seem to be mainly people asking for shopping recommendations: what book should they buy, what language should they use, what IDE should they use, etc. Shopping recommendations are off-topic pretty much everywhere and should just be closed unless they are one of a few historical questions. There are a few questions in those tags that aren't recommendations at all (likely tagged by someone being brainless when tagging) that should be retagged and kept on Stack Overflow barring justification that they are really off-topic there.

would likely be on-topic on one of the several Area 51 proposals dealing with people, people skills, and general office-related issues. But they don't exist now and are indeed off-topic on Stack Overflow.

The rest of the tags you point out as possible candidates for migration explain absolutely nothing about the question. They should be killed as meta-tags. There are almost certainly on-topic questions within those tags that were just subject to some mindless tagging.

I also want to note that Programmers.SE, or any other site, should not be part of this effort to clean up tags. The default action, when a question is bad or off-topic, should always, always be to close it. But in a mass retagging, I'm not even sure closure should be part of the equation.

Why? The only time a question should be migrated over to a new site is if the user asking it is going to be better served by the destination audience: that is, it's remarkably suited for the destination site. It requires at least a modicum of special attention to make that determination, and evaluating questions en masse (like, say, during a tag cleanup) makes getting that special attention extremely unlikely and increases the likelihood of a ton of crap being migrated because nobody wants to make the uncomfortable decision to let a question die with dignity.

If there's a relatively recent question that happens to get closed in this project and is really well-suited for any Stack Exchange site, be it Webmasters.SE, Android.SE, DBA.SE or Programmers.SE, it can always be migrated later or can be migrated by a moderator. But that should be the rare exception, not part of the process.

  • Ok, ok, I've removed all references to Programmers. Maybe you should get Jeff to remove the migration path? Jun 3, 2011 at 17:02
  • @Gilles The issue isn't with the migration path, it's the mindset that Programmers.SE is a "safe" place to keep questions you don't want to close but don't belong on Stack Overflow. Just let the question die. But in many cases, the tags tell us nothing about how to close or where to migrate anyway: many of the questions I've found have been tagged incorrectly.
    – user149432
    Jun 3, 2011 at 17:04
  • Someone has now created the ruby-rant tag to hold things in the rant tag that are indeed about the Rant library for Ruby.
    – Charles
    Jun 3, 2011 at 17:30
  • @Charles: Hm, what if someone wants to rant about ruby?
    – user102937
    Jun 4, 2011 at 20:08
  • 2
    @Robert [rant-ruby]. If you want to rant about the framework Rant, it's [rant-ruby-rant].
    – user149432
    Jun 4, 2011 at 20:26

I cleaned up , it was being abused by about a dozen Facebook questions, most of which were about the Open Graph API or the Like button.

I cleaned up half of . It turns out that someone synonimized with , which is going to make it hurt for people that don't know to look for tag synonyms when picking tags. Sigh.

Anyway, , , and + are now all shuffled into their own pre-existing hyphenated blah-computing tags. That took care of about half. The remainder seem to mostly be about "how do I compute X formula" or some variation thereof.

I've now completed removing .

is now also burninated. It was being used most frequently to refer to computational complexity, which is covered by (and, irritatingly, , which I'll be fixing in a moment).

Starting to clean up . Most of the questions tagged were about Facebook's Real Time Updates mechanism, now tagged . Most others that were tagged with are now tagged .

The rest seem to be either talking about the data type or are talking about "real" physical or logical things, as opposed to ... uh ... fake? I'm cleaning up the physical things mentions, but I'm not sure what else can be done to make the data type more clear. There are still about 20 questions, mostly topical.

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