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Quite often we have situation that discussion about a specific tag results in consensus that the tag should be removed. And the removal process means that the questions having that tag are retagged and thus bumped. In some cases, this might be quite a big number of questions. (For example, when the tag (straight-lines) was created, after the discussion on meta it was removed. But in the meantime it was used in more than 70 questions. There is a recent discussion about (birthday) tag - it seems that the tag is going to stay or maybe it's going to be renamed, so actually no harm was done there - but it's another example where a tag was used in more than 100 question in the first two days after creation. And I am pretty sure it would be possible to find some other examples of tags which were used in many questions when possibility of removal was discussed.)


Question. Would it be reasonable to create a special tag for this purpose:

  • For regular users, this tag would carry nor information, it would be just a placeholder.
  • Moderators could use this tag in such way that when some tag is removed, it could be merged into this tag. In this way, tag could be deleted from all questions without bumping.1 (Probably it would be useful to look at the questions first and retag at least those which are tagged incorrectly. But still this could reduce the amount of retagging and bumping.)
  • Of course, if questions having this tag is bumped for other reasons, the tag can be simply removed. (But this would probably upset less users, if the question was already bumped for another reasons.

So the main advantages would be: Less work when removing tags. Possibility to remove the tags without bumping.

Disadvantages: If a process like this is made silently, it's possible that users who disagree with the change can miss what is going on. (I.e., bumping means that more users notice that something was changed.)

I will also stress that this tag would be different from the tag, which is created in some specific situations by the system. In fact, (untagged) cannot be added by regular users, see here for more details: Do not allow users to tag questions with “untagged”.

1How moderators can "rename" tags without bumping is explained in detail here: Can you change the name of a tag? (I wrote rename in quotation marks, since it is not actual renaming, only merging with another existing tags.)


I will point out that similar system is used on MathOverflow. See: More details about (tag-removed) tag and Purpose of (tag-removed) tag.

There used to be tag with this name also on this site: What is the role of the '[tag-removed]' tag? It is mentioned in Qiaochu Yuan's answer that: "The first meaning is its original meaning on MO... This question had a tag which was inappropriate, and that tag was merged so as not to bump the question. (That is, it's a hack.)" So probably this tag was used for similar purposes also on this site in the past. (The linked post is from 2010. I did not find a discussion on meta which lead to removal of this tag.)

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There is a dedicated way to delete tags without bumping, the jargon for this is 'burninate.'

It is just that this functionality is not exposed to users and per site moderators, only SE staff can do it.

This restriction is intentional, and I do not think we should introduce something that basically only works around this intentionally imposed restriction. If we think that per-site moderators should be able to delete tags then the way to go would be to request this.

Some further points to consider:

  • It allows for more local autonomy. On the one hand this is good, on the other hand see above.
  • It can be used manually in cases where might fit, that is to say for extremely off-topic questions. But this is rare so somewhat of a non-issue.
  • There remains a trace of tag-removal on the concerned questions. This is an advantage in that it marks questions that may need some attention as regards tagging. (Of course somebody would need to do that. Often this does not happen in practice.) It is also a disadvantage in that some people do not like it when their questions carry this tag. (One could also see this as advantage in that it might motivate them to do something about it. Then, this under-cuts the idea of avoiding bumps.)
  • Even if explained well it could be a source of confusion and might be misused.

In sum, I am not a fan of this as it adds too little when used correctly, but can have serious down-sides.

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    $\begingroup$ Trogdor, the Burninator! $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Nov 21 '17 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ I have noticed this in your answer on meta.MO: "It could also now be a good time to start this, since (at least in principle, I do not know if for their work-flow the moderators still use it or want to use it) this tag for the second use-case is not necessary anymore on SE2.0. The dedicated tag serving this purpose is untagged." $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jan 9 '18 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ If I read the quoted part correctly, your suggestion was that (untagged) would be better for the purpose I suggested than (tag-removed). But still, you are saying that it is better to use neither of the two and the burnination is preferred for such situations. (I will add that I have not accepted your answer yet since you mentioned that you plan to "elaborate pros and cons in more detail". But I am aware that as a mod you have a lot of stuff to do, so this is definitely not a pressing issue.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jan 9 '18 at 8:25
  • $\begingroup$ I completely forgot about this. I hope to come back to it soon. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 9 '18 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ I'll mention that I have asked this on meta Stack Exchange: Burnination vs. merging into a specific tag. (So if the question gets some reasonable answers there, perhaps you can simply replace "I will elaborate pros and cons in more detail later" with this link.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Apr 23 '18 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ I added some considerations. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 23 '18 at 14:24

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