This has bothered me for some time, and since bad tags are on the table, I think this is a good time to do it. The original burninate request got good traction, and all that remains is to implement it.

The general-physics tag is absolutely terrible, because it adds absolutely no information. It is no more descriptive of a question than the fact that it was posted in this site. Moreover, if absolutely no other tags apply to the question, then it is essentially guaranteed to be off-topic here.

There were about fifteen questions that had that tag only, of which only this tricky example remains. There's still about thirty questions with the tag and there's a slow process to remove the tag from those questions. (That could be speeded up by just burninating the tag, as originally requested, but for some reason, despite the upvotes, it hasn't happened.)

  • Update: it's done: the tag is no more. All the posts that had the tag (60 at the time this question was posted) have been retagged with more descriptive tags, and the tag is currently empty. As things stand, the tag will expire in a few days, but there's still a definite danger that some new user will re-introduce it if they can't find a tag that will fit their post.

Once that's done, though, can we blacklist the tag to make sure that it doesn't come back? Seriously, it adds nothing to the site, and it only works as a misleading marker to some people that their bad questions are on-topic here.

  • $\begingroup$ Ah, and it seems there's this old post in the catchall thread. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 23 '17 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, generally speaking, tag burninate & blacklisting requests should go there. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Jul 23 '17 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ Thing is, tag burninate requests in that thread, even highly upvoted ones, see remarkably little forward action. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 23 '17 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ Concerning v2: Is 'blacklisted tags' a SE notion? And if yes, does it in practice differ from the SE notion of 'burninated tags'? $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Jul 24 '17 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic Blacklisting is related to, but separate from, burnination. Blacklisting completely prevents the tag from being re-created by some hapless new user, which I think is justified in this instance. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 24 '17 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ That is already implicitly understood by the previous burnination meta questions. Why would we ask the SE team to just remove the current tags, only to see them return in the future? $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Jul 24 '17 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, may change the wording of some of the previous burnination meta questions to make this clear? $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Jul 24 '17 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic That's not really in the text of the linked duplicate as currently posed, and as far as SE is concerned the two concepts are separate. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 24 '17 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ Can you think of an instance where we would ask the SE team for burnination without black-listing? $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Jul 24 '17 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic Mostly mis-spellings and some ambiguous tags. Burnination looks like a lesser hurdle with SE than blacklisting so if the tag's unlikely to come back then it might only be necessary to remove it as is. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 24 '17 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ FYI: Tag misspellings can easily be fixed by the Phys.SE mods by playing a bit with the tag synonym/merge tool. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Jul 24 '17 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic Sure. My previous comment is mostly a re-statement of the standard SE position, which may make more sense in other sites (like say, the enormous churning mass of SO). I agree with you that it doesn't make much sense on this site to burninate without blacklisting but the fact remains that for SE they are separate concepts. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 24 '17 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, now that "general physics" has been deleted we should really take care of "laws of physics". $\endgroup$ – valerio Jul 26 '17 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ @valerio92 I don't think that one is a particularly obvious candidate for removal. Structural questions about the laws of physics in general would be hard to tag otherwise, and there's several such examples. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 26 '17 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I agree on some of them, but "laws of physics" is just too prone to misuse and it is often just thrown there because the question is about physics. That means constant retagging work. I am sure that it is possible to find something more descriptive and less prone to misuse...I will think about it and if I got any decent idea I will propose that here on Meta. $\endgroup$ – valerio Jul 26 '17 at 9:21

To offer something authoritative: pursuant to our discussion in chat and the strongly supported suggestion for its removal, the mods are currently working on getting this tag blacklisted. I'll update here when it is done (or if the process fails for some reason).



The set of "all physics knowledge that could be described by any human's symbols" is countable and is a subset of the $\sigma$-field of all possible human's symbols. Therefore, obviously, all the tags except general physics are of Lebesgue measure zero. Deleting general physics is equivalent to deleting all possible physics knowledge from Stack Exchange almost surely.

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    $\begingroup$ Is there any rationale behind this that you can propose? What usage do you envision for this tag that cannot be folded into more specific tags? What kind of questions would you argue are on-topic here but don't have any other applicable tags? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 25 '17 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Almost all physics knowledge possible in the universe are not described by any of the other tags. $\endgroup$ – High GPA Aug 1 '17 at 7:47
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    $\begingroup$ So it seems to me that you're suggesting that every question could be validly tagged as general-physics, which means it really is useless as a tag and should be burned because it adds nothing to what the question is about. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Aug 1 '17 at 11:55
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    $\begingroup$ Note also that we're talking about deleting the tag itself and not the questions with the tag. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Aug 1 '17 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ @HighGPA Well, the tag just got blacklisted. I guess if you're right then the site will implode shortly. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Aug 2 '17 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos It tells that the question is not describable with any current tags. $\endgroup$ – High GPA Aug 2 '17 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @HighGPA name one physics subject that can be accurately tagged 'general-physics' that couldn't be tagged with something existing or creating a new tag? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Aug 2 '17 at 22:30
  • $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos Any physics in the universe that yet to be explored by human beings. $\endgroup$ – High GPA Aug 2 '17 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ @HighGPA in which case (a) does but satisfy a named subject and (b) an appropriate tag can be generated in that event. In either case, Gen Physics tag isn't needed $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Aug 2 '17 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos Yes, in logics after the question being asked, a proper tag could be generated. But you forgot that most ppl do not have 1000 rep to create new tags. $\endgroup$ – High GPA Aug 3 '17 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ Fortunately there's some very nice people who do have >1k rep and don't mind editing questions (cf. this list). Further, I'd also argue that a 'general physics' tag wouldn't apply to this case as well since there would be a specific, named field and wouldn't be a general physics question. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Aug 3 '17 at 10:03

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