Related: What is the purpose of the popular-science tag?, Can we encourage the "research-level" meta tag? What about a "popular" tag?

We currently have a tag called . It's basically for questions which demand a layman explanation.

and as mentioned here it has problems.

  • It's fundamentally a meta tag
  • It's ambiguous. I've been seeing many edits in the queue that retag to the popsci tag, and I've seen many other older questions tagged with it — it seems that everyone has a different interpretation of it. This is quite harmful because it degenerates into being applied much more broadly than intended and there's confusion all around. The tag wiki is already pretty unambiguous, however it still seems like the tag is being interpeted differently. A tag called could work but it would probably have similar issues. The basic issue with level filtering is that people look at the tag as "Hey, that's the tag with all the bad questions". (Not "that's the topic I don't like", the focus remains on the tag). And then it gets applied more broadly because everyone has their opinion of what sort of questions they don't like. This is already currently happening, as mentioned before.
  • Level filtering has a rather harmful effect in that it opens the tag to abuse. We already have which has this problem1, and I'm not keen on having another. Basically, this tag(popular-science) can be used to get a question "ignored" by many users here; it's a softer form of deletion in a sense. Sure, people will still notice it, but there's a reasonable chance that the people who would have otherwise answered it won't. Couple this with the ambiguity issue and it's much worse -- it's hard to even detect such abuse because of the ambiguity.
  • Note that having a tag for it is usually taken as a sign that we welcome all such questions. While we don't disallow such posts, we don't want to actively encourage them either.
  • Does really help in the first place? Questions asking for a layman explanation usually mention it in the title. They're easy to ignore, there aren't many of them. There are a lot of and questions coming in though, and ignoring these may clean up your main page much more significantly than ignoring popsci if you don't enjoy layman questions. There are approx 3 questions per month in the tag (ignore the last data point, recently there has been tons of retagging in that tag, not all of it fitting the description). I don't see a pressing need to filter these out. There just aren't that many. Applying the tag more broadly to catch more popsci questions-- well, then you get a very broad tag, which is probably more ambiguous. And in this case favourite tags would serve you better.

enter image description here

Can we get it burninated?

1. Not entirely, though. Usually, on-topic questions don't need the tag in the first place.

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    $\begingroup$ FYI: I removed a large number of comments here because the authors had gone on to post answers which mostly capture the gist of this conversation with considerably less overhead. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 10 '13 at 4:13
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    $\begingroup$ Jesus Christ, when will you stop your vendetta against tags? Come on man, answer some questions instead. $\endgroup$ – OmnipresentAbsence Aug 10 '13 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ ...sez the guy with two answers on the site? $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 10 '13 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ @OmnipresentAbsence What vendetta? This is my only question asking for tag deletion on this site. And I'm quite busy these days, not enough time to write good answers (though I do handle flags and do some reviewing). In this case, I had planned to write up this meta post (and the book policy one), just that I kept putting it off. Dilaton later asked me to finish up the books one, so I sat down and wrote both. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 10 '13 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Shog9 I knew somebody would quite idiotically bring that up. I said he should post answers INSTEAD OF doing that stuff. I have never even complained about trivial things such as tags. It is not within my capabilities to answer the non-reposted questions yet, but I will when I get better at physics $\endgroup$ – OmnipresentAbsence Aug 11 '13 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ He has some amount of responsibility here, @Omni - the folks on this site elected him to do a bit more than just answer questions. If you read the linked discussions, you'll see this post arose out of prior conversations (started by others) that were left unresolved. (And shucks, if you're gonna start randomly criticizing people for posting tag-destruction threads, there are like 3 other threads on the first page right now, each with a half-dozen or more different tags in them) $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 11 '13 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Shog9: I don't think it's a very good idea to divert people's attention to other posts so that they don't criticise a particular 1 . (Is you're intention diverting his atttention away, or bring it to those posts? ) . $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Aug 11 '13 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ Divert, @Dimension10? I think folks would have an easier time understanding these discussions if they actually read them first rather than rushing to post uninformed criticisms. If you consider that a diversion, then... I gotta ask why you're here? $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 11 '13 at 17:53

There's been an awful lot said here already, so I'm gonna cut to the chase: is clearly a meta tag, in the same way that is a meta tag - it can't stand alone when describing a question.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's bad or should be removed though. [popular-science], like [homework] has value in describing the sorts of answers that can be found on a question... or should be provided to a question.


After years of support and many thousands of questions, we had to burn [homework] on Stack Overflow because folks were using it as a club to beat others over the head with. When folks are regularly getting into fights over a tag, that tag has become a liability and must be removed - regardless of how nice it might be in theory. And before you say "it can't happen here", open your eyes - it already is happening.

While I sympathize with Jim and others who wish to classify these questions, Manishearth is dead right with regard to the ambiguities and potential for abuse: these are the reasons why meta tags are discouraged. If this tag is going to remain in use, three conditions must be met:

  1. This should go without saying, but... Y'all have to want pop-sci questions on this site. I don't mean easy questions - I mean questions that demand answers written for a general audience: no post-highschool physics knowledge required (if even that). Answers you could give to your 8 year old when she asks an annoying string of "why" questions. You could just disallow these questions entirely and side-step the whole issue; not saying that's a good idea, but if folks really hate them then that's an option. If you do want them, and want them tagged as such, then...

  2. ...You need to be ruthlessly consistent in how the tag is used. If a given question doesn't explicitly ask for and receive a "general audience" answer, then it's not a pop-sci question. You may think it's too simple, that the author doesn't have sufficient knowledge to understand the answer he's asking for, or just detest the topic, but... Tough cookies; down-vote or vote to close it as appropriate. Unless the asker states, "I don't know any physics, please give me an answer that doesn't require it" or the equivalent of it... You must not use this tag.

  3. It cannot be the only tag on any question. If there's no clearly identifiable topic beyond "I want a layman's explanation for something", then the question is either poorly-written, off-topic, or badly-tagged - so if it's not closed or deleted, you need to tag it. is already failing this condition - there are 24 posts with no other tag.

And most importantly, you cannot fight about this. Tags should be obvious to anyone reading the question, not a point of controversy. If you find folks engaging in edit wars over whether or not this tag is appropriate, point them to this post; if they continue to misuse it, they will be blocked; if the problem becomes widespread, the tag will be removed with no further discussion.

  • $\begingroup$ What happend to the homework questions, as the tag was burnicated on SO? Were they still allowed but no longer tagged as such? $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 10 '13 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ They're allowed if they're good questions otherwise - clearly stating a problem and demonstrating enough of an understanding to allow for a reasonable answer. A tremendous number of questions (many unanswered) that consisted of nothing more than someone pasting in their assignments were removed. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 10 '13 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, I see. Concerning the "tough cookies" approach with close and downvotes, do you mean this would be an appropriate way to deal with this never solved problem too? The problem in principle still persists, though it is sometimes more and sometimes less intense. Downvoting is straight forward, but what would be the appropriate close reason (excuse) in such cases? Before the improvement of the closing system, there was the "too localized option" which worked quite well for this purpose. Of course one can write a custom comment each time too. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 10 '13 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ Yes - y'all have a homework policy already - if a question doesn't comply, close it. If it does, but it's still a lousy question, down-vote it. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 10 '13 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ How does one search for the questions that have only the momework tag? I could look at them and add some more meaningful tags too in the course of time ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 10 '13 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ You can't do it on the site, because it isn't supposed to be a problem - if you need two tags on a question, then one of those tags is bad. However, you can accomplish this using Data Explorer $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 10 '13 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, this makes sense. I'm still skeptical about the tag ever working, but this seems like a good starting point -- if people want it, they can get a much better definition for the tag (renaming it may dispel some ambiguity) via a meta discussion. And then we'll need to keep a watchful eye on the tag. Sounds like work, but if the community can come up with a clear-cut definition I don't mind. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 10 '13 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ And, this is certainly unexpected. But, I'm still cranky in reviewing edits for popsci tags (I always skip these days). I'd better watch (for a while) how people use the tag and then start retagging posts or review such tag-edits ;-) $\endgroup$ – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Aug 11 '13 at 5:20
  • $\begingroup$ The <strike>"only question"</strike> "only tag" definition is silly. higgs-boson can't be the only tag on a question either . $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Aug 11 '13 at 7:17
  • $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy yeah, that is what the skip option is for as I understand it ;-), I use it too when I dont want to decide myselelf but let others do it. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ BUT, I think the idea of standardising a definition is fine . So, +1 . Should I start a meta post on standardising the def. of the tag ? . $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Aug 12 '13 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ Why can't higgs-boson be the only tag on a question, @Dimension10? A relatively high % of questions in that tag currently do have it as the only tag - because it describes the primary topic being asked about. Beyond that, go ahead and start a discussion on criteria for pop-sci if you want - my recommendation for this is above. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 12 '13 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Shog9: It doesn't make sense to have it as the only tag. Is the post talking about the higgs in the context of QFT? ST? MSSM? NCSM? NMSSM? $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Aug 12 '13 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ You tell me, @Dimension10. Beyond that, there's no requirement that a given tag express the entire context of a post - merely that it unambiguously describe one topic. If there's a single tag and it represents the primary topic, where's the problem? $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 12 '13 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ You answered your own question then, @Dimension10. The context is assumed unless stated otherwise - therefore, stating it is optional. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 12 '13 at 16:17

This is me listing the reasons I'm pro popsci tag.

First, if I may address its similarity to and . It's true, a good amount of what's listed in popsci is also in these tags. However, this tag is certainly useful for questions like: What generates such a huge amount of gravitational attraction in a black hole? where it is clearly not a home-experiment (I hope!) nor a part of everyday life. The popsci tag is different from the other two because it is purely specific to science that the layman would have heard of. One could imagine asking a question about some part of everyday life that would be deeply complicated. For example: How can I stand on the ground? EM or/and Pauli? It isn't tagged as everyday-life, but I wouldn't argue if it were; I stand on the ground most days.

As for level filtering, it will always be a problem no matter what. If you aren't going to ban those types of questions and if you don't eliminate the tag system entirely, then there will have to be a way of identifying those questions as easy, no-brainers. I say "have to" because there will always be people like me that like to log on every so often and answer a couple easy questions. Tags like popsci help me do that. No matter what the tag indicating easy questions is, people will take advantage of it because each person defines what constitutes main-stream science or an "easy" question differently. Thus, no matter what, some people will love the tag and some people will hate the tag; this is just something that we must accept about layman science questions. Furthermore, if someone decides that they don't like an entire tag so much as to ignore all questions tagged by it, that is their loss more than ours. Personally, I don't ignore any tags; you never know where a great question might pop up and the extra 10 seconds I have to spend looking through ones I don't like is worth it if I know I'm not ignoring a potentially good question. But that's just me.

To summarize: I want my "this is an easy question and should take maybe 30 seconds to answer it" tag :)

  • $\begingroup$ Note that in it's current meaning, the post you linked to does not qualify for the popsci tag. I personally would love to remove the homework tag too (not too sure about research-level, as it was made to smoothen the TP transition and to let the people from TP.SE continue without many changes), but there's going to be a lot of community opposition to that. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 6 '13 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ The current meaning of the popsci tag is for questions asking for a non-technical answer. The tag could be changed to mean "a question asked from a layman POV", but that makes it rather broad and adds more ambiguity, worsening the problem :/ $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 6 '13 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ wait, maybe I'm not understanding. How does a question about what gives a black hole gravity not count as popular science? I'm sure everyone has heard of a black hole. I have non-scientist friends who have asked me what a black hole is and how it get its gravity. Plus the answer, essentially Newton's law of gravitation, is very non-technical. If you like, one could answer with, "it has a lot of mass and mass makes gravity, thus it has a lot of gravity". $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 6 '13 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ It's popular science, but not [popular-science] -- the meaning of the tag was settled on as what I mentioned above iirc. The answer may be non technical, but I could easily give a very technical answer. Anyway, this is irrelevant. The problems mentioned in my question still apply to the broader meaning of the tag, so I probably didn't need to comment in the first place :P $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 6 '13 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough, and like I said. I'm in no position to have a weighted say in what tags stay or go. This is just me joining the debate :) $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 6 '13 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for writing this answer, I had already my curser above the upvote button, but then the last paragraphy stopped me. I like and agree with the first paragraphs of your answer, whereas I strongly disagree with distroying any of the level tags. homework and research-level are equally useful to people as [popular-science] and non of them should be destroyed as long as the corresponding question are not banned. Of course they should not be banned ...! $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 6 '13 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, as a community member, your say has importance here :) $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 6 '13 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton Ok, I was merely trying to say I no longer would have a strong opinion, not that I would support getting rid of all of them $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 6 '13 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Jim thanks for this clarification. As I have a strong negarive opinion about getting rid of all of them, I will refrain from voting on your answer for the moment to think about it further if I want to upvote. As I agree with most of it, I will certainly not downvote what you said :-) $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 6 '13 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: "I had already my curser above the upvote button, but then the last paragraphy stopped me". That's exactly what I was going to write. Removing all of them is just going to be very confusing . $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Aug 7 '13 at 12:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Dimension10 yep, and destroying all of them would definitively destroy this nice very helpful and by the majority of the community liked and supported idea ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 7 '13 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ Very good point to the both of you. It seems you have given this more thought than I have. And as it doesn't seem to add anything to the actual topic of the debate, I suppose it might be best for me to delete the last paragraph. $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 7 '13 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: Looks like answer has been updated . Your cursor can click now . $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Aug 7 '13 at 13:42

As Manishearth said, is together with and one of the three level tags needed to realize the by Jess Riedel suggested proposal to give people a method to filter not only the topics they are interested in, but to in addition choose the appropriate level too. The current audience of Physics SE has such a wide spread range of physics knowledge, ranging from almost none, to research-level, that this proposal is a good and needed help for people to order things in accordance with their needs and retrieve what they are interested in from the otherwise too chaotic mix of questions. Why I (and obviously others who expressed their opinion by corresponding upvotes of the level-filtering proposal, its answers and by comments) think this is a very good and helpful idea, I expressed already in my answer there.

So I disagree with the suggested burnication of , because it effectively shoots down the level-filtering proposal. Looking at the high number of upvotes the level-filtering proposal has obtained, it seems the community has reached consensus that this concept is helpful and a good thing to improve the site for everybody. So it should not be negatively affected or even prevented by burnicating one of the level tags needed to implement and maintain this idea.

I seriously doubt that people who belong to the SE stuff or team care for or would even bother to actively deny people here on physics SE the very helpful possibility to filter questions along an additional second "level dimension", just because for this a very small number of exactly 3 level tags (also called meta tags) is needed.

And as already explained elsewhere, I disagree with the point of view that ignore-filtering one of these level tags is equivalent to deleting questions tagged with it. Ignore-filtering any tag affects only the view of the main page of people who have explicitely set the corresponding preferences in their profile. For the large majority of the people this does not impact the view of the page. In addition, I think that any concerns that, due to level-filtering questions tagged with will not get enough views, votes, answers, or more generally love and appreciation by the community, are not substantiated by facts. Since quite some time now it is rather the case that nontechnical questions and their answers get higher votes and generally more positive attention than technical questions. I doubt that the level-filtering changes anything about this.

I dont think that the majority of people sees popular-science as a bad question tag. On the contraty, there are people who see it completely positive and very different from what Manishearth fears. I think some of these questions are really fun too. The agreement about what kind of questions should naturally have a certain tag, is natural and the intended way how appropriate tagging works, it is nothing specific or characteristic for level tags, so in my opinion it is therefore neutral and there is nothing bad going on.

For me personally, the definition of popular-science in Jess Riedel's proposal or the description in the tag-wiki are good enough for its purpose. But if anything should be done, I would rather suggest to adjust the definition of such that the most people in the community is happy or can at least live with it, than completely burnicate this tag.


After seeing a large amount of debate on this topic, I've decided to post another answer. Whereas my previous post was decidedly pro-popsci, I hope to present this post in a more neutral tone.

It is quite clear that there are two almost evenly populated and completely contrasting sides on this issue. Seeing as mutual collaboration is not possible, in determining the next course of action we need not continue the considering of reasons relevant to each side's point of view. Put another way, we are at a stalemate; however, I believe that if we can calm down and analyze this using the logical skills that we scientists are graciously stereotyped with having, we should be able to agree on what, inevitably, the correct action should be; at least, until a majority opinion can be established.

There have been many excellent points made on both sides of the debate. As such, arguing them will lead to nothing more than a bickering stalemate. I suggest ignoring them for now. Instead, let us consider the outcome of our actions. If we were to "burninate" the popsci tag, aside from making half of the people upset (either action inevitably will do that), it will add a slight to moderate inconvenience to the users who currently rely in part on the use of that tag. On the other hand, if we leave the tag in place, it has been argued that we would create the potential for a slight future inconvenience for some users (many of whom would identify in the other mentioned category).

When deciding the correct action in this case, I believe we can all agree that the action which produces the most net benefit for the population as a whole is the most correct. Keeping in mind that future actions can always be taken when and if the opinion of the majority shifts to one side or the other, I propose the following: Since removing the tag would definitely inconvenience some users now and in the future - whereas leaving it may or may not (there is a non-zero probability that it would cause no problems) inconvenience about the same number of users at a point in the future and since leaving the tag could not create any net negative effects in the present (as nothing would change from the immediate past until now), without any foreknowledge of the future, I am forced to conclude that removing the tag would carry less net benefit for the population of users as a whole than leaving the tag in place. Thus, if my premises and postulate are valid, I must conclude that at this time, the best course of action would be to allow the tag to remain.

You may now downvote me and pelt me with criticism.

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    $\begingroup$ Good, reasonable analysis of the situation, +1. And congratulation to the 3000 rep BTW ... ;-) $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 8 '13 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton Thanks :D You know, this site just feels different once you pass 3000. And the people seem a bit more warm and fuzzy :p $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 8 '13 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ Well reasoned, however you missed one bit in your premise: if we leave the tag in place, many of us feel that it is actively harmful (which is not a "minor inconvenience") . (This is besides the fact that the tag is a meta tag and thus shouldn't have been allowed in the first place ). I'm already seeing the effects of harmfulness; many, many posts are being tagged with it and it's becoming unbelievably broad. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 8 '13 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth I see, and perhaps I was wrong when I made this assumption, but I included that with the "will make people upset now", which both actions would do for varying reasons (thus a net cancelling effect; it doesn't sway the outcome). Could you perhaps explain this a bit more to me how removing it would produce a net immediate benefit to everyone? $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 8 '13 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ Else, how is the tag's becoming broad (even hypothetically) currently actively harming users more than a lack of the existence of a tag to fulfill its role? Because as I mentioned, the harm/good ratio at the moment seems to be about even based on the fact that half are pro popsci and half are anti popsci. Thus, I would assume that tomorrow, there would not be significant change in the good/harm ratio if we left it compared to if we removed it. $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 8 '13 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Jim Hmm. There's no immediate benefit except from avoiding the harm it will cause. For the past few months, the front page and suggested edit queue have been flooded with popsci retags, and I've noticed that different people subscribe different meanings to it, and are basically using it as their personal "these are the type of layman posts I don't want to see" tag. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 8 '13 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim While broad tags aren't exactly allowed either, in this case the tag is broad because people individually subscribe different meanings to it. And broad tags generally generate too much main page activity due to retagging. The homework tag already does that. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 8 '13 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Manishearth You make a fair point and I definitely see the benefit in avoiding these things. But these all seem to be not so much a problem with the spirit of the tag, but with the implementation of it. Whereas those arguing for the tag are in favour of its spirit. It seems to me that these issues could be solve by implementing stricter rules on the usage of the tag and perhaps making retags not bump something to the top of the active list $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 8 '13 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Jim and in addition disallowing the tag because of a possible very hypothetical harmfulness (which not everybody agrees with, Mahishearth is the only one insisting very vocally on its harmfulness which has by no means been objectively proven or proved) and neglecting the opinion of all the people who say that they benefit from it for various reasons, would be a very bad idea in my opinion. I agree with the result of your analysis, the net impact of removing it (at present at least) would be negative. The present benefits of the tag should not be scapegoated just because a smaller group of $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 8 '13 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ people fears hypothetical negative impacts in the future which are by no means guarantueed to become true some time in the future. As I said in my answer, I personally think the meaning and application of the tag is clear enough, but I can well understand if other people see this a bit different and see a need for better specifying its use and application. So in my opinion, it is this what should be done if anything, instead of burnicating the tag now. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 8 '13 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ Once everyone has spoken their mind and no one has changed their mind, the only thing that can be done is to cease trying to determine what is the right answer and start trying to determine what is the fair answer. $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 8 '13 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim and this should probably be done by someone who is a bit more neutral than the people who have a strong opinion and high stakes in the issue. Maybe we should call in an outsider as an independent, unbiased, and fair referee ...Just an additional remark to consider concerning the retagging on the main page: this is neither the fault of the tags applied (like homework etc) nor the people who are doing the retags. It is simply caused and explained by the kind and nature of the incoming new questions. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 8 '13 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton it might be an idea, but I don't believe we are that far gone. An impartial mediator is actually the whole concept of the term "moderator", so I feel bringing another person in might be a step in the wrong direction. But feel free to keep discussing. I've stated my opinions and I'm going to sit the rest out unless another heated debate starts up. $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 8 '13 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim I think it should neither be me, nor Manishearth who finally decides what is the fair answer and way to go. In this issue, Manishearth has clearly a very strong opinion too (nothing basically wrong with this of course!), but I therefore repectfully doubt that he is the right person to act as an impartial mediator in this particular case. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 8 '13 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ Either way, we're going to have to call a comm team member if we want burnination, so there will be impartial mediation. If necessary (which seems to be the case) I can ask for their advice in handling this situation. While mods do make executive decisions at time, usually we stick to community consensus. I don't see a problem here. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 8 '13 at 16:23

When I look at the questions currently tagged as popular science, I think it is highly reasonable to apply this tag to questions like(how-can-i-explain-or-demonstrate-the-lorentz-force-to-a-12-year-old). I also notice that there have been instances of what can be called misuse of the tag(in my personal opinion), and questions like Why does a glass breaks when subject to very sharp sound like in opera? and physical difference between A and B are examples. In these questions I feel the the author wishes to see a technically precise answer and had not explicitly asked for a layman's answer.

There is a considerable ambiguity about where the popular science tag can be used, and this ambiguity is perhaps being exploited to tag questions which do not qualify for the tag. This is, perhaps seen by some as an effective way of keeping questions out of a main page.

Based on this I suggest we continue to use the tag for a few months, and use this period to define the tag in a way that is agreeable to a fair number of people in community. Even after this, if the tag is not being used responsibly, if there is consent from the community then it can be burniated.

Again I would like to point out that, this problem is only a manifestation of a larger problem, which is the site is getting too large for the current scheme of organization to work effectively.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for bringing in the possibility to simply improve the application of the tag, instead of just getting rid of it. For some reason, Manishearth did not consider or mention this additional good and fair possibility in his meta post ... :-/ $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 9 '13 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ Thi!s is a good idea . +1. $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Aug 10 '13 at 3:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton I mentioned laymans-terms but in general I don't feel that level filtering will work because each tagger will re-purpose the tag for their own filtering. Updating tag wikis won't help IMO. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 10 '13 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth but you did not mention it in a neutral way, such that it could be a fair intermediate way to go. You just said that one could in principle use a similar tag with a shlightly different application, but it does not work either. Prathyush here explains a real intermediate way to go without rejecting it immediately but keeping it as a real viable possibility. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 10 '13 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ @dilaton as in? Like I said, I don't think level filtering will work because people repurpose the tag. I've mentioned that multiple times. Which is why I'm rejecting level filtering -- I gave a reason for it. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 10 '13 at 9:24
  • $\begingroup$ Basically I'm not rejecting it on a whim: I semi-proposed it and noted that such solutions still have problems. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Aug 10 '13 at 9:30

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