Back in 2012, we launched the Structured Tag Cleanup Initiative (STCI). It was very successful in identifying tags to create, merge, remove, and blacklist. However, it has been about 3 years since this effort was launched, and I think that it's time to relaunch this campaign.

The process will be very similar to the last effort:

  1. Identify a tag that has issues. This may be a tag that should be deleted and blacklisted, or two or more tags that need to be merged or made synonyms of each other. As these tags are identified, post an answer in this question. If you think that a multi-way merge is necessary (for example, someone identified that tag X and Y should be merged, and you feel that tag Z should also be part of this merge), edit the existing answer.

  2. Vote on candidate actions. Using the comment feature, comment on the proposed actions. Up or down vote as well. I hope to take the next 2-3 weeks to gather a list of actions and then treat this question as a queue. Starting in May 1, I'll accept the top voted question and that will mark the cleanup action. After completing the action, I'll delete the answer and accept the next one. Note that at the very end of the initiative, I'll undelete all of the answers and close the question for historical reasons.

  3. Execute the cleanup. Review the questions in the tag. Vote on the question and answers, make edits to improve them, edit the tag wikis, flag for immediate moderator attention or for moderator actions, and otherwise improve that corner of the site. Each cleanup will likely last 1-2 weeks, depending on the size of the tag. Please try to avoid flooding the homepage with edits. If there are a large number of questions that require edits, the window for a particular tag may be longer.

  4. Feedback. After a few cleanups, we'll review the process and how we're doing and prioritize the work going forward.

See also:

  • strongly related: Burninate and blacklist request: [career-*] [job-*] [resume] – gnat Apr 13 '15 at 11:48
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    @gnat Yeah. I should roll that into here. Once there's a good list of tags that are just up for blacklisting (with or without destruction), I can point a CM at this question and specific answers. – Thomas Owens Apr 13 '15 at 11:53
  • Thomas, consider adding a "opposite vote target answer" as a workaround against known issue with legitimate meta polls – gnat Apr 14 '15 at 21:37
  • @gnat Looks like that was done...I was unaware of that as an issue. Thanks. – Thomas Owens Apr 14 '15 at 22:15
  • if you mean this answer, it won't do the trick - because vote reversal script won't count it as yours. Also, I would recommend keeping the workaround-answers clearly separate from real polling items, otherwise "counter voting" can obscure score of the poll items – gnat Apr 14 '15 at 22:19
  • @gnat How do I accomplish the last part of keeping them clearly separate? Just text in the answer? – Thomas Owens Apr 14 '15 at 22:22
  • right, just use text like "If you voted only up (or only down), use this answer to cast an opposite vote. This way will prevent your votes from being reversed by the script that may mistakenly assume serial voting here." -- this is clearly not a poll item, just a counter-vote target :) – gnat Apr 14 '15 at 22:23
  • One thing is still not clear to me: it participation to this initiative only open for "trusted users" (people with 20k+ reputation) ? – Mike Nakis Apr 24 '15 at 14:04
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    @MikeNakis Having more abilities is helpful, but anyone should be able to contribute by voting to close or flagging low quality questions, voting up good questions and answers, writing tag wikis or tag descriptions, fixing problems in questions and answers by editing. Once the first batch of tag(s) is selected, anyone can use any of the abilities that they have to make it better. – Thomas Owens Apr 24 '15 at 14:08
  • Thomas, does it make sense to edit the title to closer reflect current state of affairs? It says "Structured Tag Cleanup Initiative Phase II Planning" but it looks more like we're done with planning and are in "active" phase now... or are we? – gnat May 7 '15 at 14:20
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    I should point out that until the locked questions for a tag are de-tagged, the tag will live on. Unless the tag is specifically blacklisted by SE. For example, this says children is gone but it won't be deleted (and can still be used) until the locked questions that use it have that tag removed or are deleted also. That then goes to the mods - are those questions you want to keep? change to ontopic tags (that aren't part of STCI)? or get SE to blacklist? – user40980 May 20 '15 at 3:20
  • @MichaelT I will double check the "completely gone" tags today. – Thomas Owens May 20 '15 at 8:49
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    @MichaelT Cleaned them all up. – Thomas Owens May 20 '15 at 11:59
  • Is no one else bothered by "losing" the history of these actions when they're deleted??? I know the 10k plus users can see them, but why wouldn't you leave this information in the public domain? I don't get it. – RubberDuck Aug 3 '15 at 0:56
  • @RubberDuck The intent is to undelete them. Keeping them around makes it too hard to see what's been done and what hasn't. – Thomas Owens Aug 3 '15 at 1:35

29 Answers 29



source-code closed:no locked:no

software closed:no locked:no

Most of the questions in this tag should not be closed; what the questions with this tag really need is editing and tag burnination.

This tag doesn't add much value. There are already tags about more specific concepts within source code, such as , , , , and so on and so forth.

Moderators: there are 11 locked questions with this tag that need to be edited

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    I'd argue that code-quality and clean-code and code-smell should probably all be merged (into code-quality), IMHO. – haylem Jun 15 '15 at 16:48


Legal / licensing questions are generally difficult to clean up because some questions are legitimately on-topic here. See:

For this reason, we have decided to postpone these tags as being the active ones, though readers of this answer are welcome to make appropriate edits, tag removals and close votes as normal.

Some questions tagged both legal and licensing may have nothing to do with legal matters and therefore need just deletion of the inappropriate tag.

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    I recommend caution here, looking through those tags some are on-topic as you mentioned. It might be worth editing some of the borderline questions to have value, even if the value is "we can close future questions as duplicates of these questions." – user22815 Apr 17 '15 at 0:17
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    @Snowman I think caution is required in any tag. I think that a tag cleanup is about more than just getting rid of a tag. If there are borderline questions that can be cleaned up, then we should always prefer to clean up (and then maybe historical lock, if required) a question rather than close and/or delete it. – Thomas Owens Apr 17 '15 at 0:19
  • @ThomasOwens fair enough. Thus far my contribution to cleaning up tags has been voting to close blatantly off-topic questions from a time when they were on-topic. As long as we are fixing this problem with a scalpel and not a sledge hammer, sounds good to me. – user22815 Apr 17 '15 at 0:22
  • @Snowman Getting a head start, I see. I'm still planning on powering through the list of all the tags and seeing if any can be grouped in with existing ones or if any bad ones stand out. – Thomas Owens Apr 17 '15 at 0:23
  • @ThomasOwens you told us in the Whiteboard chat that we should continue to burninate tags, so I have been. – user22815 Apr 17 '15 at 0:25
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    @Snowman Ah, the other topic. Yeah. Just be careful about bumping. I'll be starting with the highest voted one here in about 2 weeks, after my schedule clears up. I'll also be pinging the comm team for blacklisting then. – Thomas Owens Apr 17 '15 at 0:26

I'm not sure this exactly falls under the teaching post or the job post, but it should be looked at.

  • Under the "skills" tag, I see only closed question. Most of them as off-topic, some of them as duplicate of another already closed question. The close ratio for "self-improvement" does not seem to be so high at a first glance, but I guess it is >80%. So yes, IMHO these tags seem to attract off-topic answers; they should be blacklisted or marked as "just for historical relevance". – Doc Brown Nov 16 '16 at 12:11

This tag appears to have two uses. One is with regards to implementation of payment systems and transactions and the other is with respect to getting paid as a contractor, freelancer, or employee. The second type of question is off-topic. This tag could be removed from the off-topic questions and a clear tag wiki provided. Alternatively, it could be renamed (example: to make it clear that it's about software systems and not getting paid.


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    also related is incentive currently mostly used for career related ("how to create an incentive for my employees to ...?") – ratchet freak Sep 7 '15 at 9:06
  • @ratchetfreak incentive is no longer with us – gnat Apr 15 '16 at 15:13

These tags appear to be resource requests or asking for educational information.

Are book recommendations on-topic?

  • We ought to revisit the subject of "canonical" books before killing off the tag. Last I was aware, canonical references are on-topic but in practice most book questions get closed. – user53019 Apr 20 '15 at 18:18
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    @GlenH7 That's true. However, that doesn't mean that every question with this tag fits the criteria. – Thomas Owens Apr 20 '15 at 22:42

Appear to be more meta tag or about working and careers. These particular topics are likely to be out of scope.


The Workplace and Freelancing exist and cover these topics. They appears to be beyond scope based on the Help Center.

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    This should probably be merged into the resume job entry, no? – durron597 Apr 15 '15 at 13:21
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    I'm a little hesitant about removing this tag without a specific question regarding freelancing remaining on-topic here or not. Granted, there's not a lot of high-quality questions associated with freelancing. But I'd prefer to see a specific question regarding its fate as opposed to it going away through a tag clean-up exercise. – user53019 Apr 20 '15 at 18:16

Tags to Burninate and Blacklist

This answer will be submitted to Stack Exchange staff for destruction and blacklisting. Conduct discussion in comments.

Education related tags

Career related tags

E-commerce related tags

  • consider blacklisting tags: *job*, *career*, resume, certification, books. I would be happy to add legal to the list but 200 questions that aren't currently closed suggest that we're not ready for that – gnat May 5 '15 at 11:26
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    @gnat I know your comment is a month old, but we're going to hit legal and copyright as soon as the career tags are done. – durron597 Jun 4 '15 at 14:39
  • @durron597 I wrote that comment when the plan was to submit blacklist request in May. I was thinking about serving legal stuff in a separate request later – gnat Jun 4 '15 at 19:58
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    Safe to assume that the plan is to add tags to this list after the relevant answer is no longer active? – durron597 Jun 8 '15 at 21:24
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    @durron597 I typically do that when I delete the answer associated with the cleanup. – Thomas Owens Jun 8 '15 at 22:20
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    I'd say most of that career block should be removed. Not sure I see anything there that should really be considered on topic – Rig Jul 12 '15 at 13:15
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    Also negotiation – ratchet freak Jul 17 '15 at 23:04
  • see also: Tags that only exist on locked questions, should we treat these the same as tags that don't exist at all? - this feature request would probably make burnination and blacklisting much much easier than now – gnat Aug 3 '15 at 8:26
  • another one: problem-solving – ratchet freak Aug 10 '15 at 15:22
  • Thomas I re-checked yesterday - bunch of tags appears to be gone. We don't have these anymore: training-courses, non-technical, grad-school, college, student, students, children, exam. And this tag has only 2 historically locked questions: courses. Does it make sense to update list in this answer? – gnat Aug 28 '15 at 9:52
  • @ratchetfreak FWIW annual-review just passed away. Last question in the tag was deleted, and there are no locked questions with this tag – gnat Aug 28 '15 at 22:46
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    another career related one: independent-contractor – ratchet freak Sep 7 '15 at 8:59

This seems like a meta-tag. If a puzzles question is on-topic here, that's probably because it's a puzzle about algorithms or some other thing we already have a tag for.

The tagged questions primarily consist of:

  • puzzles about algorithms (often on-topic, but is a much better tag)
  • career/education questions about puzzles asked at interviews (off-topic)
  • recommendations for puzzle books (off-topic)
  • questions that are worth keeping probably can be retagged from puzzles to problem-solving – gnat Jan 19 '16 at 6:59

Company-specific tags like this seem to encourage either interview questions or speculation about why they made certain technical decisions or how their technology works.


Seems to be a mix of on-topic questions about things like managing memory, and off-topic questions about off-site educational resources.

I've already suggested a tag wiki edit so new users have at least a chance to see this distinction, but we should also clean up the old questions that used this tag for what is now considered off-topic.

Edit: Case in point, we just got this question.


has the hallmarks of either a meta-tag, being a very soft question, or being completely irrelevant to philosophical discourse.

The ones that are actually about philosophy are too old to migrate to Philosophy.SE.

Questions that are only tagged philosophy may be problematic.


At first I wasn't sure if these needed cleaning, until @GlenH7 and I looked at the questions and found a bunch of underwhelming questions. Both tags are around 40% closed already, not a good sign.


(490 and growing)

Off-topic and categorically primarily opinion based. Coding style is the domain of religious debates and flame wars anyway.

While it is difficult to advocate a one-size-fits-all approach for a tag with this many questions, I would argue that based on a sampling of questions they fall into two categories:

  1. Questions that are about coding style as defined in the tag wiki: how to structure code to affect readability and maintainability. Stuff like formatting.

  2. Questions that are about techniques, how to call a method, what to name a class, etc. which may have some value but might be better served with a different tag such as ?

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    I think this one can have on topic questions. Tread lightly – durron597 Apr 27 '15 at 23:10
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    @durron597 please see my most recent edit. – user22815 Apr 27 '15 at 23:52

A meta-tag. It's implied on all questions that do not have a tag for a specific language. Other, more meaningful tags (like or or , as examples) already exist to describe what the question is about, not what it's not about.

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    The language-agnostic tag is actually useful to clearly communicate that the asker is interested in the general concepts, not just in the way these concepts apply to the language in which the illustrating code happens to be written. In its absence, I'd rather infer that a language tag was forgotten, and not that the asker could use a Haskell-powered answer celebrating the awesomeness of Monads when they only know procedural PHP. – amon Apr 20 '15 at 15:31
  • It does fail the "sole tag" test though. – ivan_pozdeev Jul 16 '15 at 16:08

Off-topic and primarily opinion based. There are a few borderline questions that could be retagged, but a lot of these are not salvageable.

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    I don't disagree that there are some low quality questions in this tag, but I don't think that all ethics questions are off-topic or generally bad. I think that ethics are going to be more subjective than other topics, but as computing professionals, we do have codes of ethics for us that may apply, such as the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice. Some sites, like Philosophy have ethics as a tag, so maybe it's an issue of scoping these questions properly? – Thomas Owens May 23 '15 at 11:59
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    @ThomasOwens I don't see anything here that indicates ethics are on-topic. If anything, they may fall under "career advice." – user22815 May 23 '15 at 13:59
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    Maybe it should be a separate discussion. I think it's important to clean any off-topic or low quality questions up so people don't get the wrong idea first, one way or the other. Then, let's talk about it. – Thomas Owens May 23 '15 at 19:49
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    Consider adding politics to this one. – user40980 Jul 3 '15 at 14:33

This one is pretty self explanatory. 12 closed, 28 open questions.


Questions about how to do scrum are on topic, for example, but those questions should be tagged , not . At best this tag is too broad, at worst it's off topic.


appears to be many things that are more related to the workplace than actual programming / architecture / design questions.


is used either to ask "how do I sell my software", "how to avoid overcommitment from the sales team" or "how do I deal with the sales portion of my job". All are off topic


either a meta tag or asking us to choose a language for them (explicitly off topic)

  • quick look through open questions in this tag suggests that many askers indeed interpret it as you describe. Looks worthy of cleaning up (and possibly of improving tag wiki) – gnat Aug 21 '15 at 19:02

often more meta in a question that happened to mention startups as the word-du-jour than about startups themselves (which is also be off-topic as career related)


mostly about employment contracts (burn)

however has some design-by-contract questions which are valid but should be retagged to reflect that.


Feels like a meta-tag, and seems to be a magnet for opinion-based questions about what to do with said projects.

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    Could be a valid tag to clean up, but needs caution. Should take a closer look and maybe provide guidance, though, since working alone may have different considerations than a team in the office or an open-source project. – Thomas Owens May 30 '15 at 14:15
  • @ThomasOwens I think tag for working alone is solo-development – gnat May 30 '15 at 22:47

Often becomes a "name this thing"-type question.

Relevant meta discussion from last year: On the troubles of naming and terminology

Related is which also tends to get into opinionated questions about naming conventions.

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    Why are "name this thing" questions a problem? Industry terms are often difficult to define, and we can help add clarity to confusing issues. – durron597 Jun 4 '15 at 14:01
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    @durron597 because it's usually a polling question and sometimes several answers are equally valid. Several of the questions are also mistagged with it IMO. Those should be cleaned up at least. – ratchet freak Jun 4 '15 at 14:05

needs some garbage cleaning (not the "this tag is really not appropriate for the site" many other tags in this post fall into).

Ideally, one should be able to click on the tag and find good examples of project management questions as they relate to software development and architecture. Currently, this is hit or miss (with a better chance of a miss with someone asking for a logo for a project or a list of all the possible risks in project management).

People familiar with this topic please:

  • down vote poor questions and answers
  • detag good questions that aren't about project management
  • close vote (or flag) questions that are opinion or too broad to be properly answered on the site

In general, try to make it so that if someone clicks on a random question within the tag, they've likely got a good question with good answers that is about project management.


Tags "angular" and "angularjs" should be merged or synonyms.


If you voted only up (or only down), use this answer to cast an opposite vote. This way will prevent your votes from being reversed by the script that may mistakenly assume serial voting here.


We should not delete any tags. All the tags are great.

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    For the sake of completeness. – psr Apr 14 '15 at 20:42

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