According to the results of a recent meta vote questions about identifying music videos or commercials have been ruled off-topic (and for the sake of this discussion here, that is to be taken as given and discussed elsewhere if you feel the need to). But as a result of this decision the corresponding tags and have been made synonyms of and respectively, instead of just deleting them (or leaving them questionless to further automatic deletion), which I find highly counterintuitive.

Given that those tags pertain to invalid question categories, their role as synonyms for valid question categories is somewhat questionable. This on the one hand shows that those kinds of questions are on-topic and a sub-category of movie/TV-show identification, which is certainly not the case. Furthermore, it encourages users to ask such questions in the future. While nothing stops users to ask such questions even without the tag, and it's always possible to explain the true situation with the help of the above mentioned meta discussion anyway, such a tag still actively encourages those questions and serves as "proof" that they're a valid on-topic question category. This is not the purpose of a tag synonym, which is to be an alternative name or valid sub-category of another tag, but not to automatically pose invalid question types as valid ones.

While of course the above fears about future problems might very well be ungrounded in practice and those disadvantages might just be hypothetical ones, I fail to see the actual advantages those tag synonyms bring. In addition to that the problem this brings for the structural integrity of the site and its tagging system does not need a precedence case to be an actual problem. So I would like to question the arguments in favour of making those invalid tags synonyms of valid ones instead of deleting them and the reasoning behind this decision.

  • 1
    +1: Nicely phrased and it would be good to get an "official" discussion on this (i.e. not in chat!!) Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 12:16
  • @AndrewMartin Yeah, at first I thought it was a simple oversight and easily resolved (i.e. in favour of my position ;-)) in chat, but it seemingly wasn't.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 12:17
  • Probably an attempt to stop the tags reappearing, but could be confusing. They are not really synonyms, so probably shouldn't be used like that. We can always snipe the questions and tags as they reappear.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 12:28
  • @iandotkelly Well, they are very well reappearing, just now diguised as other tags and not easily identifyable (no pun intended).
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 12:30
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    Agreed. TylerShads and I discussed merging plot-inconsistency with plot-explanation - which are synonymous, but not this one. One of the 'challenges' of being a mod is sometimes being in a position where you can't always review every small part of what you want to do - or you'll end up not doing anything. We can review this and change tack on this if appropriate.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 12:33
  • @iandotkelly True, that's why I thought it was just an oversight. Yet, TylerShads seemed to some degree dedicated to that approach to make a meta-question neccessary and let his arguments for it be officially heard and discussed.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 12:35
  • @iandotkelly "discussed merging plot-inconsistency with plot-explanation - which are synonymous" - By the way, when is this synonym expected to happen, now that the decision is definite anyway?
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 12:53
  • @NapoleonWilson - He's already done it according to the edit to this meta.movies.stackexchange.com/questions/1290/…
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 13:00
  • We can always delete synonyms
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 13:03
  • @TylerShads "We can always delete synonyms" - True, but it wasn't done, so I'd like to hear your arguments in favour of not doing it in an official answer.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 9:47

2 Answers 2


I'll keep it short, this is my opinion on the matter:

Tag synonyms should be reserved for tags that fall within the scope of the site.

If a tag is by itself outside the scope of the site (like ), all questions tagged with it should be closed if off-topic or retagged if on-topic.

The tag should then be automatically deleted by the system when no questions are associated with it anymore. This will help to discourage the user posting questions matching this tag. When they find there is no tag like this and no similar questions in this category, they are more likely to check if the question is even allowed here.

  • This would have to be a feature request ..... nothing like this exists on StackExchange, and I think its unlikely to be implemented, especially just for us.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 13:46
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    Not sure which part you are referring to, but as far as I know the automatic deletion of tags that have no questions is already in place. I did not mean that the system should automatically close or retag questions, that would be our job obviously.
    – magnattic
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 14:07

Sorry I'm not more familiar with the developer side of things but is it possible to create a Banned tag. For example instead of identify-this-music-video being deleted it shows up as red with an x in front of it or line through it and the pop up box would explain that this type of question is not allowed.

  • It is possible to blacklist tags (make them impossible to use, though I'm not sure what happens if you try), but I think this should be used very rarely (especially since this has to be done by an SE-übermod) and am not sure it should be used for off-topic question categories (though, I don't have that much insight into this matter either, maybe it's indeed the perfect use-case).
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 16:08
  • I'm not sure if blacklist is answer as it seems extreme somehow. Simply a Tag that would redflag it basically so that moderators can get the user to fix it or let them know that this is not allowed and will be removed. Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 16:25
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    I suspect that blacklisting is reserved for banning a tag that is wrongly being recreated again and again. I don't think we are quite there yet and should simply try to get rid of the tag the usual way.
    – magnattic
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 19:07
  • Blacklisting can only be done at a dev level, as in, mods cannot do this, only employees.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 14:32

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