I'll mention the history of the problems with tag, although I think that most people who visit meta regularly know about this.

The problem with was that it was used for different purposes, and to make the tag useful they have to be somehow separated. This was discussed here (and also in some related threads) and the community consensus was that and should be used instead.

However, the questions which already were tagged had to be retagged manually, one by one. This was a long process but, eventually, all of questions using originally this tag had been retagged.

The new problem is, that new users, unaware of this, created the algebra tag again and again.

Some solutions have been suggested:

  • http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4472/disambiguation-pseudo-tags: Creating some "pseudo-tags" which cannot be used for questions, but they have tag-wiki containing information which tags can be used instead. (This would be a definitive solution of this problem. But we do not know, whether this will be implemented.)
  • http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/5074/algebra-disambiguation-tag: As a provisional solution was created again, some questions were added to this tag artificially (so that the tag is not deleted in the regular pruning of empty and low-usage tags) and tag-wiki for this new tag contains information that it should not be used. (So the effect is similar as in the suggestion about pseudo-tags, with the exception that we cannot prevent users from applying the tag to questions.)
    Despite the warning given in the tag-excerpt and tag-wiki, a few questions are tagged with this tag every week.
  • Synonymize and , as suggested here.

When discussing tag, the possibility of blacklisting this tag was mentioned a few times in comments, e.g., here and here.

Blacklisting would mean that tag with this name cannot be created again. Again, to some extent, this is similar to "pseudo-tags" with the exception, the user trying to apply this tag doesn't see recommendation which tags should be used instead of this tag. Blacklisting seems to be rather extreme option, I quote from the tag-wiki for tag-blacklist-request at meta.SO:

Tags must be "quite bad" to be blacklisted. Generally, these are tags that could never convey any useful information or are actively harmful to the site. Because of the potential consequences of getting something wrong, only the dev team is able to add tags to a site's blacklist.

AFAIK the complete list of blacklisted inputs is visible only to mods. But to mention just a few examples, the tags that have already been blacklisted at MSE include proof (see this post), mathematics and equations (see this post).

So the question is:

  • Should we request to be blacklisted?

EDIT: At the moment there are 27 votes for and 5 votes against blacklisting this tag. So it seems that the prevailing opinion is that this tag should be blacklisted. I guess the rest is up to our moderators, who can ask SE team to do this.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If someone knows more about blacklisting, I'd be glad to know how exactly the warning for a user trying to use a blacklisted tag. (I tied to search meta.SO, but didn't find this information.) Or, for that matter, if you know any information that might be relevant for this discussion. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 14:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would say further that even the abstract-algebra tag is somewhat obsolete. I would prefer the more specific ring theory, commutative ring theory, group theory and field theory tags. $\endgroup$
    – the L
    Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 17:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You get the message "sorry, the 'algebra' tag is not allowed." when you try to create it. To get the tag blacklisted, one of your moderators has to ask an SE community manager to blacklist the tag. $\endgroup$
    – user9733
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 18:53
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ I would be more in favor if the rejection message could be customized. I'm worried about giving new users the impression that questions about algebra are not welcome. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 19:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm I've asked at meta.SO, it seems that the text of the warning cannot be changed: Warning when using a blacklisted tag - is it customizable? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ you can ask SE admins to black list the tag so no one can recreate it again. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm Willie Wong said in a comment here that "math", "mathematics" and "equations" are blacklisted at MSE. Yet people still ask questions about solving equations. But I agree that the word algebra is slightly different; people are more likely to try to use it as a tag. (I think that only mods can see the list of blacklisted inputs, so the only information I have about them is from comments like that.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ Should we keep the poll longer? I mean it's quite conclusive already... $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 15:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Asaf Last time we asked SE management to do something (question quotas) it lasted only a week until some MSE users asked to change the decision. So I did not want to be hasty. But as you write, voting seem to be evidently in favor of blacklisting the tag. So I've accepted the answer with more upvotes. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ Martin, it only took a couple of months and a flag! @Shog, thanks!! $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 9:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank robjohn for cleaning up the last few instances of the tag being used! $\endgroup$
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 15:54

3 Answers 3


Please do not downvote this answer


  • $\begingroup$ Since I cannot vote my own; I vote for this one. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ I upvoted this, because I've long given up on deleting that bloody tag from the questions that keep getting tagged with it... not worth the hypertension. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ Shouldn't you make this CW (as well as the other)? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 21:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Nate: Should I? There is no reputation gain from meta posts; there is no badges that are awarded/unawarded for votes which depend on CW; I was also posting this from a cellphone... :-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I didn't realize that reputation wasn't awarded on meta. Never mind then. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ There are badges awarded separately for meta though, including at least some badges related to questions/answers. Asaf, you've got a few recently; and this is the only meta answer you have which appears recent enough to be likely. meta.math.stackexchange.com/users/622/… $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Dan: True, but I would have got those regardless of these answers being CW. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 19:45
  • 15
    $\begingroup$ The negation of nay is actually yea... Though I can see why someone could be so tired of the continual reappearance of the (algebra) tag that they would simply let out an exclamation of joy instead. $\endgroup$
    – user856
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder who downvoted, and why... $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 8:10
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Is “yay or nay” an acceptable alternative to “yea or nay”? at ELU (english.SE) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I am sure you know that there are proper English words that might be better here. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 14:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I am considering downvoting for your failure to correct the misspelling! $\endgroup$
    – dfeuer
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 15:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @dfeuer: Sure, bumping a solved topic from last year is a great idea. Also, I was quite excited from the idea of the tag being blacklisted, so "Yay!" $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 15:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila, some puns, unfortunately, are too common as misspellings to be recognizable as puns. I'm sorry I jumped into this one, though. $\endgroup$
    – dfeuer
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 16:47

Please do not downvote this answer


  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Until I started using this site, I had never heard of "algebra precalculus" (Wikipedia says it's an American term). This makes me feel a bit skeptical about blocking "algebra" which is what it's called here (=Australia). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 23:11
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @DouglasS.Stones: It's not a term used anywhere, it's a disambiguator. $\endgroup$
    – Charles
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ Now this one has 1 downvoter, too (not me)... Strange, but at least there is the same number of downvoters on both possibilities. (Maybe that was the reason.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 5:32

RE: The blacklisting: since a new user attempting to create an algebra tag may be astonished that this math blog has no algebra section, maybe there is a way to handle this through the reputation filter portion of the code: By asking the developers to put an unlimited requirement on the reputation necessary to create the "algebra" tag, and creating a specific info-bubble that says, "please choose either abstract algebra, precal algebra etc" instead of the default "only users with x reputation can create a new tag," the problem could be avoided completely, without the negative side effects.

  • $\begingroup$ I'd say this is very close to the suggestion given at Disambiguation pseudo-tags $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 6:29
  • $\begingroup$ And certainly there are other MSE users who would prefer that solution over blacklisting. One of the problem is - your solution needs to be implemented, mechanisms to blacklist a tag already exist. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, makes sense that it's been thought of. I guess I was just trying to join in the convo :) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 0:29

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