I recently discovered that we have a tag.

Firstly, I'm really not sure when this tag is meant to be used. It can't be for all out-of-universe questions, as it would then have a lot more than 35 questions to its name. The tag wiki doesn't give much help or clear guidance:

This tag usually refers to how something in Sci-Fi or Fantasy works in the real world. It can also refer to a version of our world featured in a Sci-Fi or Fantasy work. For instance, Stephen King uses a version of himself in what is supposedly our world in his Dark Tower novels.

Secondly, we have a policy (and even a custom close-vote reason) that questions asking about real-world science are off-topic unless somehow linked to a particular work of SF/F. This policy is still unclear, however, and having a tag that seems to apply to such questions is only going to exacerbate the problem.

Can we nuke this tag?

2 Answers 2


Nuke it

  1. Does it make sense to be an "expert" in ?
    No (-1)
  2. Does it make sense for a question to be tagged only with ?
    No (-1) — it's a meta tag.
  3. Does have a single, universally-unambiguous meaning?
    Maybe (1)
  4. Is likely to be used correctly just based on its name?
    Maybe (1)
  5. Are there "enough" (> 15) but not "too many" (> 10% site-wide) questions that qualify for ?
    Yes (2) — currently 35 and could be used on more.
  6. Are people likely to use to find questions to answer?
    No (-1) — not by itself, perhaps in conjunction with another tag, but even that is unlikely.
  7. Are there likely some users (be objective!) who will favorite or ignore ?
    Yes (2) — the tag currently exists and has 2 followers.
  8. Could be reasonably used to feed questions to a specialized chat room?
    No (-1)
  9. Can be used to search for questions (for any reason) in a way that keyword searching cannot accomplish?
    Maybe (1)

Total is 3, which is low enough to get rid of this tag.

  • Though I agree with your conclusion, perhaps the answers to #3 and #4 should be no (as discussed in my question) and the answer to #6 should be maybe (a real-world scientist might indeed look for real-world questions to answer). On a more general note, IMO the facts that the tag has unclear usage guidance and its most obvious usage is off-topic are more important than several of the questions in this list, which after all was originally designed for a different site and hasn't been changed at all for SFF. I'm beginning to agree with CreationEdge about these criteria ...
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Feb 20, 2016 at 18:36
  • I've weeded out all the questions in this tag that are about real-world explanations, and all the remaining questions would fit just as well with the influences / inspiration tag. In a day or two (giving people time to object) I'll get rid of real-world by merging all three of these tags together - thus, in a way, satisfying both your answer and CreationEdge's :-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Feb 26, 2016 at 12:12

I'd say no, but that it just needs to be renamed to

Expert? Yes. +2

Tagged only? No. -1

Unambiguous? Yes. +2

Used correctly based on name? Yes +2.

Enough? Yes. +2

Use it to find questions? Maybe, but leaning to no. -1

Favorite or ignore? Maybe +1

Specialized chat? No. -1

Search? Yes (people use "influence", "origin", "idea of", etc., in questions.) +2

Total: 8

An okay tag, but not terrible.

  • Not sure what you mean by real-world-influence. Would that be used for questions about what (in the real world) influenced this or that in a work of SF/F? We have the inspiration tag for that. If you look at how the real-world tag is used, it's often on questions about whether such-and-such would actually work in the real world. (Although now that I look at it, you're right that some of those questions are actually about real-world inspiration instead. Some serious retagging needed here.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Feb 24, 2016 at 15:22
  • Retagging, or a synonym. Someone tried using influence recently, and it'd make a decent synonym, if not already explicitly worded in the wiki. Can't see it atm.
    – user31178
    Feb 24, 2016 at 15:23
  • @randal'thor Although, I agree that if it's used to ask for real-world explanations, it seems redundant and pointless. Just like tagging plot-explanation.
    – user31178
    Feb 24, 2016 at 16:58
  • I just realised we already have two tags for the thing you're talking about: see this new meta post. Would you agree on nuking the real-world tag, retagging some of those questions with influences, and simply removing the tag from the questions about real-world explanations?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Feb 24, 2016 at 17:01
  • @rand I think having it for real world explanations is overkill, yes. But for retagging, isn't it possible to rename a tag (as a mod?) and then just make it a synonym. Less work, and less disruptive, if possible.
    – user31178
    Feb 24, 2016 at 17:04
  • Yes, that's possible for a mod to do, but before merging the tag into influences we'd have to untag all the real-world questions which are about real-world explanations and not influences.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Feb 24, 2016 at 17:06
  • I've weeded out the real-world explanation questions, and everything that still has the real-world tag would fit with influences. In a day or two (giving people time to object) I'll merge all three of real-world, influences, and inspiration together - thus, in a way, satisfying both your answer and SQB's :-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Feb 26, 2016 at 12:10

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