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A conversation with DavidZ prompted this question (see this question's comments).

Thinking about the tag: when should it be used? Putting it on a question is kind of redundant...that's what the tag is for. Also, looking at questions, most are on hold, closed, etc. Finally, it seems like having such a tag encourages such questions - and honestly, that's not what this site is about (as evidenced by the down-votes, etc).

So, with this in mind, I have three questions:

  1. What is the tag supposed to be used for? What uses are now appropriate?
  2. Do we really need the tag? I don't think so, but I want to know what others think.
  3. If the answer to two is no, or not really, should we delete the soft-question tag?

Thanks! I'm interested to see what others think.

Update:

I might also add that while I definitely agree with DavidZ's answer, I'd like to see what the community thinks, and hopefully everyone will come to a consensus.

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My personal viewpoint: there are no valid uses for and we should burninate it (i.e. purge it from the system and forbid future use).

In my experience, basically all questions which are given the tag are either off topic, or don't really need the tag. I'm not entirely sure what it means for a question to be soft, anyway, but the questions we do allow that would fit most people's definition of "soft" are already identified by more focused tags like .

If this answer emerges as the community consensus, we (mods) will arrange to have the tag removed.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree. +1. I'm interested to see what the rest of the community thinks. $\endgroup$ – heather Jul 10 '16 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think we should be anywhere that trigger-happy. There's currently 460+ upvoted, open questions with the tag. That's a very broad brush to use on a lot of questions. On the other hand, there's a fair number of questions there that don't really need the tag, and if after it gets removed then everything left there is off-topic, then sure, yeah, burninate it. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 10 '16 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty From a sampling of the first page, all the question I see on that list either shouldn't have the tag IMO or are off topic. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jul 10 '16 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ That may be. But the first page is very rarely a good sample, and there are a lot of questions. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 10 '16 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Why would the most recent questions not be a good sample? In any case, perhaps we can discuss this in chat sometime (not now, I don't have time) at which time I will take a more comprehensive look through the list, but in the meantime I would pose this question: which questions do you think need to have the tag and are also on topic? $\endgroup$ – David Z Jul 10 '16 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ I think e.g. this, this, this, this, or this questions do benefit from the tag, but again (i) that's a very partial look at the list, (ii) it's a subjective assessment, and (iii) it is indeed a meta tag, so we could argue for days with no agreement. I don't think the tag causes that much harm, either, though. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 10 '16 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Indeed it is subjective; I believe none of those questions should have the tag. That being said, I think the fact that posts like this keep coming up is evidence of the harm the tag causes. (I guess to a defender of the tag, this wouldn't really be harm, exactly, but my point is more that "it doesn't really matter so we don't need to do anything" isn't a viable argument.) $\endgroup$ – David Z Jul 10 '16 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ No, that's not my argument. I'm saying that (i) I feel the posts are on topic, (ii) the tag is not (or at least not always) harmful - with both points obviously subjective. I'm also saying, on a bit more objective track, (iii) that I think straight burnination is too drastic an action for something with that many (open, score>0) posts in it. In any case, let's wait and see how the votes look like. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jul 10 '16 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty, looking at the questions you linked, they seem like they could be tagged with the physics subject they are discussing, and don't need a soft-question tag at all. Also, I think the tag is harmful. I think people will take these types of questions a little less seriously, and it certainly also seems to be like the homework tag (i.e., it's bad, let's slap that tag on) or it fits with the resource-recommendation tag. Finally, burnination doesn't mean the good posts get deleted...just retagged. $\endgroup$ – heather Jul 10 '16 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I'm not sure I buy that argument against burnination; after all, the reason the functionality exists is to deal with tags that have too many posts to make editing them out viable. That being said, if people object to burnination, I would also be okay with simply preventing use of the tag on new questions. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jul 10 '16 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ, do you think it would be okay to go through the soft-question tag and retag where I can (i.e., where it is clear) five at a time, to start clearing the tag of stuff that shouldn't be in there? $\endgroup$ – heather Jul 10 '16 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ @heather Well, I personally wouldn't mind, but I think it's better not to. After all, I figure this debate ends one of two ways: either we decide to eliminate the tag, in which case it'll be done all at once by the SE team, or we don't, in which case editing out the tag will be pointless. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jul 10 '16 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ, I understand, I was just wondering if maybe editing out the questions that don't really belong would allow people to make more reasoned comments about the situation (no reference to anyone in particular, I mean in terms of gathering data of how many are on hold, etc). But, as you say, probably not the best idea. $\endgroup$ – heather Jul 10 '16 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ @heather The issue with that is deciding which questions the tag does or doesn't really belong on. It seems not to be the sort of thing one person should decide on their own. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jul 10 '16 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ It seems that this is a question for only 2 -3 people $\endgroup$ – user122066 Jul 11 '16 at 1:40
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This question is not about the usefulness of this tag, but about the usefulness of its topic.

Now think, which direction find you better to follow.

Additional info about the main sociological structure of the SE sites.

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    $\begingroup$ @heather Yes, it is an answer - because it explains very clearly, why should we follow them, too. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ @heather Yes, the flagships of the SE network. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ Those two are not flagships. Stack overflow is the flagship. And even if they were, who cares? Physics.SE is different from both. We have our own set of users and topics. We have our own tags. $\endgroup$ – heather Aug 14 '16 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ @heather I explained in the answer, why are they flagships. I've also explained in the last sentence, why leads your suggestion to destruction. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ You have not. What, they are flagships because they have the second biggest square? A flagship is the leading ship - the first. Stack overflow was the first. But that is beside the point. Your last sentence, "Now think, which direction find you better to follow" says nothing. I think it's best to follow the direction that is best for physics.SE! $\endgroup$ – heather Aug 14 '16 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ While I'm mostly in favour of keeping the tag, there is nothing in this answer that actually presents a working argument for that. You're welcome to think otherwise but have a solidly earned -1 from me. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Aug 14 '16 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ @heather This is why I explained in the last sentence, why should a site be the possible most widely open. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I am sorry to hear. I think the well-goingness of the site is a strong argument. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ @heather No, I didn't say that. I can't see any evidence, why a closed site with continously narrowed topic, ruled by an inbreed inner circle randomly picking and closing most questions would be better as an open site, full with life, with a broad topic where everybody can get the answer to his/her questions. I think your suggestion takes the things in the first direction, this is why I am for the clear rules and for the openness. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding the "well-going"ness of maths.se, I think it's a terrible argument. The reasons for that site's "success" in terms of throughput are completely different to what many/most users here would consider success for this site. I for one would pretty much stop participating if the level of questions dropped to what it is on maths.se, and I suspect most professional users here would do much the same. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Aug 14 '16 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty What I would find very unfortunate. The problem is that in the physics enthusisasts/professionals there are significantly different groups in their preferences, and their wishes are contradictory. If the communities of the MathSE and the MO had to share the same site, it had leaded probably to a not really well-going site like the current PhysSE. But, I can see 2 solutions for that: 1) The creation of a MO-like PSE site 2) using euphemistic tagging to separate the LQ/enthusisast/soft questions from the HQ ones. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ @heather Because they describe the main sociological structure of the SE sites. As you try to hold together the possible largest and possible highest Q community, you should consider it. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ @heather It is because you are a new account, a new star in the sky of the PSE, with a surprisingly fast appearance. But you probably don't have enough experience from the sociological structure and from the preferences of the different groups here, thus you prefer your own and don't understand others. I think you need some months, some years to understand the things here correctly. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ You can daydream all you want, but I personally find your level of understanding of how the communities here, at MSE, and at MO, actually work to be remarkably off-target. (The fact that you're using a post that's exclusively about SO as a stand-in for the whole of SE puts you even further down the track.) I won't argue here further - I just wish I could downvote again. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Aug 14 '16 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ @heather Yes, but the SO has a lot of additional sites, more than 50% of the sites of the SE network are IT-oriented, thus they don't need it. From a physics site, there is only one. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Aug 14 '16 at 14:54

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