I just noticed the tag . It seems to be applied to a random-looking selection of questions whose title starts with “why”. It doesn't reflect anything about what the question is about, or who might be interested in it. It's useless as a way to classify questions. It's a prime example of a meta tag.

At 30 questions, it's a bit big for manual cleanup, that would flood the front page.

Please burninate .

  • How did I not find this question when I was posting a dupe of it? Anyway, Stack Exchange does not like this kind of tag. They call them "meta tags" and wrote a whole blog post on why they're getting rid of them some years ago: The Death of Meta Tags Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 3:39
  • Are you saying that only the tag should be burninated? Or are you saying that we should start to consider questions like "Why do airlines do X?" or "Why is X practiced at airports?" off-topic if they have no practical value to travelers but are only asked out of curiosity?
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:32
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    @Fiksdal I'm saying that the tag should be burninated. “Why do airlines do X” is not intrinsically bad or off-topic. “Asked out of curiosity” is about motivation, and we can't know what motivated a question, we aren't in the asker's head. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:40
  • @Gilles Thanks for clarifying.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:44
  • A lot of "why" questions come down to opinions and theorizing, but certainly not all of them. Each question would stay or go on its own merits and of course only after the usual number of close votes. I don't think anybody's in any rush to go through all the questions with the tag and robotically closevote them all. Most of them have surely already passed muster. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 15:52
  • @pnuts; I make no such suggestion. [Fiksdal's comment] is one that I read in which a user was worried that "burninate" meant the whole questions would be off-topic. And questions that are off-topic are closed on SE sites. Just clarifying that there's nothing to worry about as far as the questions go. Not everybody is familiar with the Stack Exchange jargon "burninate" I suppose. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 5:16
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    @pnuts: My intention was only to spell out what the two interpretations would lead to if their implications was followed. Basically that it would not be the end of the world as some may fear. Clean up as you wish. (-: Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 5:45
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  • Gilles accept an answer if this is solved.
    – JoErNanO Mod
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 13:47

6 Answers 6


Coming here from hippietrail's new question on the same - I agree that this is obviously against StackExchange's own rules and as such the tag should be deleted.

Going by the rationale of "rationale", every single "why" question could be a rationale question. This falls very solidly as an unimportant, unuseful tag.

However, this causes another problem: as far as I know, there's so simple way of "deleting" a tag or nuke it altogether en masse (possibly why it fell through the cracks first time): the only way is any unused tag is automatically deleted at 03:00 UTC every day.

Given the breadth of random questions it has been used for, it cannot easily be merged / synonimised with anything else.

For what it's worth, I think it just needs a community cleanup of manually deleting the tag from every question and then it should die.

  • Stack Exchange staff can delete (“burninate”) a tag. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 23:01
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    @Gilles I feel like someone needs to remind me this every few months [monkey hiding eyes emoji] LET'S DO THAT THEN. Will raise in Teacher's Lounge. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 23:30
  • @pnuts On SO these requests tend to get lost in the noise. In my experience, on smaller sites, requests from a mod backed by a sensible meta thread do get processed. Also, SO doesn't have a “flooding the front page with hundreds of old question” problem. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 0:40
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    Mods on sites complaining about "flooding the front page" is a pet peeve of mine. I have no respect for such bullcrap. Front pages are busy by their very nature and mods of all pople now how to view by other criteria than "active". That said, an official burninate operation by mods that doesn't cause such a flood is still better for several reasons. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 5:20
  • +1 it clearly goes against the intent of the website. Burninate it.
    – JS Lavertu
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 15:44
  • Hmm so is this a decision or not a decision? Not many are voting but the majority of those who are are against the tag. Yet it's still feverishly being added by some users. Should I ask a new meta question about how to actually decide things? Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 15:27
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    Ankur, could you go ahead and delete the tag then? I presume this is "word of god" from the mods so there's no more need to discuss this matter. @hippietrail If the mods are inactive let's go ahead and do a manual cleanup
    – JonathanReez Mod
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 19:24
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    @hippietrail the tag is now gone :)
    – JonathanReez Mod
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 18:16
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    Can we mark this as solved?
    – JoErNanO Mod
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 13:43
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    @JoErNanO Done! Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 13:44

After knowing that I am the top user of this tag, I totally agree that the tag has no rationale. Just saying 😁 😁 😁

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    Top asker or top answerer? (-: Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 15:49

I re-asked this question without finding this original. I'll re-post my version of the question as my answer. I may tweak it later:

Six Years ago, our venerable overlords at Stack Exchange had a hissy fit about what it calls "meta tags":

The Death of Meta Tags

We have also discussed them at least once, four and a half years back:

Meta tags - time to eradicate? (Though the tags we actually discuss are bad for other reasons and are not meta tags as Stack Exchange defines them.)

Anyway, I've just noticed we have a meta tag with in the vicinity of 100 questions.

What shall we do with it?

What shall we do in regard to the Stack Exchange policy against meta tags?

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    We should remove this tag. Not because it's the law (it isn't really a rule, in that in the end it's up to individual communities to decide), but because it's a good idea. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 8:06
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    I disagree simply because we have a fantastic collection of travel-related trivia on that tag, although I do agree it's kind of meta.
    – JonathanReez Mod
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 8:59
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    @JonathanReez We should remove the tag, not the questions! Remove the tag, keep the questions, we still have those questions around. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:41
  • @pnuts: Yes that is how meta questions work. They're not about one right answer like on the main site. Questions here must have the discussion tag or one of several specific other types. Here I provide the rationale about what meta tags are with official links to what Stack Exchange's stance on them is. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 15:42
  • @JonathanReez: We already have a trivia tag. But since the community was in favour of keeping them we didn't trivialize it with that name. Instead we named it [factoids]. I often call them "curiosity questions". Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 15:46
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    @Gilles: Is it true that SE sites other than SO can choose to have meta tags? How do we know they have such a status? Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 15:47
  • It's more my rationale than my answer. But SE calls them answers even though they're often not really answers on Meta. Oh this question is the original. Mine was rightly closed as a dupe, which is how I became aware of this one. I then brought my thoughts here. I was in a rush to check out at the time so didn't edit it into proper meta-answer form if there is one so just added that introductory paragraph to explain what I was doing. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 15:56
  • @hippietrail so [factoids] should be removed as well? If [rationale] is a meta tag, then [factoids] is meta as well
    – JonathanReez Mod
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 16:24
  • @JonathanReez; Please re-read the Stack Exchange blog post on meta tags. I don't think factoid questions are the best use of the site by SE rules, but we've previously decided we want them, a policy decision I've gone along with since debated so I contribute to and ask factoid questions despite my misgivings. What I think is wrong with them is not that they rely on a tag which is too meta, but that they're off topic since they're not about travel. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 16:28
  • @hippietrail Nobody from SE's come and killed rationale and factoid... Or [big-list] on a few sites, etc. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 16:41
  • @JonathanReez Indeed factoid (the tag, not the questions, this thread is not about the questions) should go too. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 16:42
  • I don't think factoids are a travel topic but they form a definite coherent topic of our site. I suppose much like [statistics]. Feel free to start new meta threads about either or both of those tags or any others you might feel are meta. If you do then each should be a separate meta question so that decisions can be clear. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 5:23
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    @Gilles: I went ahead and asked on MSE whether it is up to each site to decide whether to allow meta-tags: Are meta tags banned across the board on all Stack Exchange sites or can each site decide if it wants to allow meta tags? Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 15:39

I disagree. is specifically about rules or behaviours which seem unreasonable to many travelers. The highest rated question (about lifting window shades) reflects that kind of perplexion — it seems stupid for many passengers to open the window before landing/taking off, when they'd much rather be asleep in their seats.

Not every why question fits this tag, only those which are concerned with human activities. Why is the moon hiding from me? doesn't fit the bill, for example.

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    “rules or behaviours which seem unreasonable to many travelers” is a highly subjective characterization. Most of the questions with this tag don't seem to be about unreasonable or even surprising practices to me. I don't see the connection with human activities, either. Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 11:35
  • There sure are a lot of fun, interesting questions under that tag. @Gilles , is your point that it would be too hard to objectively distinguish between useful questions and non-useful question? So people could ask almost anything?
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:36
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    @Fiksdal No, I'm saying that whether to apply the tag or not is subjective and therefore the tag is pointless. I'm not saying anything about the questions. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:41
  • @Gilles Ah, I see.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 9:44
  • @pnuts the mods can terminate a tag if they wish to do so. I'm not trying to break the rules. But until [rationale] isn't officially banned, I'd say it's fair play to keep using it.
    – JonathanReez Mod
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 16:25

I agree that it is not the greatest tag, but it is certainly useful. Regarding your link: There is nothing subjective about the tag and it can be used just fine on its own.

It is used for finding reasoning (rationale) in to the question-asker strange behavior. Strange behavior is subjective, yes, but the question-asker is looking for clarification. There is nothing subjective about them not understanding something.

The tag is also fine to use on its own, although this will not be common. It is often useable in combination with other tags as this rationale should be about something related to travel to be on topic. It can fit in any question about why we do certain things. It does not matter that those questions can also be tagged with different things. On this SE site we will have many questions that have multiple tags.

It is also useful for searching. If I wish to know why they do X on an aircraft, I'll search [rationale][aircraft] instead of skimming through all aircraft questions or searching 20 times. I wouldn't do that with subjective or beginner though.


I'm not sure why it would be too hard to objectively say when a question should be tagged .

If a question is about why something is practiced by a travel-related entity, then it's a question.

For example:

Why are airlines against the transferring of tickets to other persons?

is a question. But:

Can I transfer my British Airways ticket to another person?

should not be tagged with .

I don't see how this would be too subjective? I think the definition is quite straight forward? Maybe you could give a few examples of questions that are in a sort of gray-area between being suitable for and not being suitable? I'm open to having my view changed.

Awaiting further discussion, though, I'm going to say it's pretty straight forward to know which questions to tag with , and I think we have a pretty objective definition for it (as described above.)


  1. We have an objective definition for the tag (I believe we do.)
  2. We think such questions are on topic (I think they are.)
  3. The tag helps distinguish such questions as a group (I think it does.)

Then I don't see any reason to get rid of the tag. It seems useful to me.

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    Then why do only about 1/3 of the questions asking “why …?” have the rationale tag? And what's the point of a tag to distinguish why questions anyway? Tags help people locate relevant questions. How is it helpful to filter questions based on whether they're asking why something? Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 11:34
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    @Gilles It's not only the word "why". It's whether they're asking for the reason behind something. I think that's a clearly defined criteria, so we can keep such questions sorted. As for why questions starting with "why" don't have that tag: Maybe they aren't questions about reasons for something, yet they still start with "why". Or maybe OP didn't know about the tag and thus didn't use it. Many users don't add importance to tags.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 11:43

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