I want to make some tiny contribution to the community by retagging the entries that has already been voted to closed. But after the retagging the entries move all the way up in the main-page as if they have been edited, and they bother since we just don't want people to look at them, but they appear at an eye-catching position.

  • Is this the right procedure to retag as [tag-removed], or is there any other way we can do without making the entry up?

  • There are closed entries which have not been retagged as [tag-removed], should we do this? Or is there any policy about when to make an entry [tag-removed]?

  • $\begingroup$ Why do you need to retag the questions as [tag-removed]? $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Oct 29 '10 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ Since it is easier to filter out the questions I need to see in the main-page by adding to the "Ignored Tags". Is this reason proper or not? It is fine if we just leave them there. $\endgroup$ – Hsien-Chih Chang 張顯之 Oct 29 '10 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ If you want to filter out closed questions, it should be possible without doing a lot of manual work – we are computer scientists after all. Besides, as you observed, the manual work actually distracts others, as the questions get promoted to the top of the front page. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Oct 29 '10 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ For example, the page cstheory.stackexchange.com/search?tab=active&q=closed%3a0 looks very much like the front page, but without anything that is closed. Bookmark it if you want? See cstheory.stackexchange.com/search for more search tricks. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Oct 29 '10 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks very much for the search tricks, and sorry for misusing [tag-removed]. Should I retag them back, or just leave them there? $\endgroup$ – Hsien-Chih Chang 張顯之 Oct 29 '10 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ I guess it's best to just leave it as it is... $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Oct 29 '10 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ actually Kaveh has been systematically tagging closed questions as 'tag-removed'. If done at the time of closing, it's not a bad thing $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Oct 29 '10 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think it is a bad thing. It is unnecessary manual work. And we lose information: it is no longer easy to find things like "all closed questions in [dc.distributed-comp]". If you aren't happy with the way the closed questions are handled in search tools, I strongly suggest that you ask the SE developers to improve the user interface, instead of encouraging people to do distracting manual edits. (Naturally incorrect tags or off-topic tags should be deleted, but here we are talking about correct tags.) $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Oct 30 '10 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Jukka: I have only removed tags from questions that seemed completely off-topic, not all closed questions, see tag-removed. And we haven't lost any information, the site keeps track of changes. But I understand the point that it can make searching for closed questions in with some tag difficult. I guess a middle ground can be removing tags when they don't apply or when the question is completely off-topic. Jeff suggestion is of course better, i.e. don't show the closed question by default when searching for a tag. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 31 '10 at 7:20
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    $\begingroup$ I think we need even better search functionality, e.g. we should be able to restrict the number of votes to a range, asked by a user, answer by a user, date range, no accepted answer, search in revisions, ... . $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 31 '10 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: Some of them are already available (but not all). See the page which Jukka linked to. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 31 '10 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi: I didn't notice it. :) Thanks, this is going to be useful. ps: Should we add it to our FAQ to make it easier for new users to find it? $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 1 '10 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Hsien-Chih Chang: thanks for accepting my answer, but since the right thing to do is still being discussed, could you please remove the accept sign from my answer? $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 1 '10 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: “Should we add it to our FAQ to make it easier for new users to find it?” Might be. But I am not sure if it is worth the efforts to make many FAQ entries about the many features of the Stack Exchange engine…. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 1 '10 at 0:12
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    $\begingroup$ It seems to me that we have a conclusion here: that is to retag a question only when the tag has nothing to do with the topic. Otherwise, we just keep all the tags on a question to preserve information, even if the question is closed. This makes the searching easier; for the one who is annoyed by the closed topics, there is always "closed:0" for you. Are we all agree on the policy? How about the modification to the default search options? $\endgroup$ – Hsien-Chih Chang 張顯之 Nov 2 '10 at 8:04

I have created [tag-removed] because I saw a similar practice and tag on MO. I think the point is not really tagging closed question, the point is removing all tags from off-topic question so they do not show up when we search for those tags, and adding [tag-removed] is mainly for stating that the tags are removed from the question and keep all questions tagged with at least one tag.

  • $\begingroup$ that actually makes sense, so that closed questions don't clutter up searches for tags. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Oct 29 '10 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for answering, so do you mind if I help to retag these closed questions? $\endgroup$ – Hsien-Chih Chang 張顯之 Oct 30 '10 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ Sure. Just be careful so others won't get annoyed (well, at least not too much), i.e. don't modify old questions aggressively s.t. the front page becomes full of them. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 30 '10 at 6:42
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    $\begingroup$ I'm with Jukka on this one; this is a mistake. The right thing is to exclude closed questions from tag searches by default, but still allow including them if that's what the user wants. Thou Shalt Not Erase Information. $\endgroup$ – Jeffε Oct 30 '10 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with the modification of the system to exclude these questions by default. But the search trick is unknown to me until Jukka told it. Maybe an "Advanced Search" bottom can be shown on the main page. (Or did I miss it, except an unclever way by pressing enter with empty search entry?) $\endgroup$ – Hsien-Chih Chang 張顯之 Oct 30 '10 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ @JeffE: It does not remove any information since the system keeps track of all changes, it just makes one task easier while making another task harder, i.e. it is a trade-off and IMHO this practice is more useful as most people would be more interested in searching for questions without the completely off-topic closed questions than in searching for old completely off-topic closed ones using a tag. But I will stop doing it for now till we agree on what should be the policy on this (other than those questions where the tags used do not really apply to them). $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 31 '10 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ [continued] your suggestion that when searching for a tag the system should not list the closed question by default is better. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 31 '10 at 7:56
  • $\begingroup$ ps: to be fair, removing tags can makes it way harder to find the closed questions using a tag. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 1 '10 at 0:12
  • $\begingroup$ two related MO discussions: meta.mathoverflow.net/discussion/181/retagging-to-tagremoved/… meta.mathoverflow.net/discussion/391/… $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 15 '10 at 5:20

We have been rather strict in closing questions. To make this policy successful, it would be useful for the closed questions to remain on display for new users, so that they can see the kinds of questions that are likely to be closed. Removing correct tags from such questions reduces their visibility, and I think we should not follow MO on this. MO uses an older engine while ours is still being actively developed, and as several people point out, a more constructive approach would be to ask for the required functionality of excluding closed questions from searches.

Note that the really terrible questions have typically been deleted by the moderators after being closed, so they are already out of the picture.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how this reduces visibility compared to the proposed feature (exclude closed questions when searching for tags by default). The new ones are still on the front page or one can search for closed or tag-removed. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 31 '10 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ András, I agree to Kaveh, but I am not sure if you referred to excluding closed questions from searches by default. Personally I am against excluding them by default exactly for the reason you stated. And you can choose to exclude closed questions by adding “closed:0” to search terms. blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/07/… $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 31 '10 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ I am simply saying: we could ask for an interface element that appends "closed:0" to searches. $\endgroup$ – András Salamon Nov 1 '10 at 11:16

Please do not remove tags mechanically just because questions are closed. If a question is about graph theory and tagged as [graph-theory], there is no need to remove that tag if it is closed for being subjective or for some other reasons. As András wrote, closed questions should be reasonably exposed as such to users who are trying to ask similar questions.

If a question is tagged as [graph-theory] but it is not really related to graph theory or any other reasonable topic, I think that it is perfectly fine to remove tags and just tag it as [tag-removed], unless you bump many questions at once for the sake of retagging.

As Jukka wrote in a comment on the question, if you want to exclude closed questions from search results, add “closed:0” (without the quotation marks) to search terms. See https://cstheory.stackexchange.com/search for other search options.


While I'm with Kaveh on the way things are currently being done, it seems that there's a preponderance of feeling against the policy. The acceptable solution appears to be to

  • Not do any extra tagging when the question is closed
  • Use a search filter if you're annoyed by seeing closed questions pop up in a search.

We should thus enshrine this as official policy and stop the use of tag-removed from now on, if sentiment is in favor. If there's general agreement, we can modify the FAQ to provide Jukka's helpful search link as an answer to a question "I don't like seeing closed questions ! What can I do ?"

  • $\begingroup$ It makes searching for closed question with a specific tag much harder, so I agree with this, but I think we can still use tag-removed for questions with no appropriate tags. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 1 '10 at 9:26
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree. If the question is not related to any topic, it should be retagged to [tag-removed] even after it is closed. Honestly speaking, I do not think that my opinion is any different from what Kaveh has been doing. Just that my answer emphasizes what Kaveh did not write explicitly in his answer (when to avoid retagging to [tag-removed]). $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 1 '10 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ Tsuyoshi: what exactly do you disagree with ? $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Nov 1 '10 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree with the part “Not do any extra tagging when the question is closed.” $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 2 '10 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Tsuyoshi, there is no point in keeping those tags on a question which do not apply to it, even if it is closed. But it is better to try to correct the tags before closing so we won't bump up a closed question later. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 2 '10 at 10:59

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