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?


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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 at 12:10

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