I just saw the tag on the main site.

What does it mean? Is it about software related questions? Or is a "soft-question" the opposite to a "hard-question"?

See first question tagged with it seems to be How to encourage TeX as a homework medium. The other questions tagged with it are all kind of unrelated to each other.

I do not see any reason for having this tag. At the very least its wiki page should explain what it means.


I want to go on record saying that I think is a bad idea and should not be allowed to take hold in your community.

Why? It's a meta tag.


I believe it is "inherited" from the math community (math.se and mathoverflow.net) but I would view this as "inheriting" a genetic deficiency. Don't do it!


  • 4
    Thanks Jeff. My plan is to get rid of it. I see that the tag hasn't a wiki page on math.sx as well. – Martin Scharrer Apr 4 '11 at 8:50

I agree with Jeff, both that it should go and that it probably came from the Mathematical SE community (originally MO, possibly by way of maths-SX).

On MO, it means "I'm tagging this 'soft-question' because I know it shouldn't really be there but hopefully by admitting that then Andrew Stacey won't immediately vote to close it.". Of course, it actually has the opposite effect since anything tagged 'soft-question' on MO almost surely shouldn't be there and I almost automatically vote to close such questions!

To be clear: I wouldn't vote to close the questions here that are tagged 'soft-question' (those that aren't already closed), but I agree that the tag 'soft-question' adds absolutely nothing to those questions.

If you can figure out a cure, put it into a retrovirus and I'll see if I can infect MathOverflow with it.

  • The cure for TeX.SX is simply to retag those questions (there are only a few left). Then the tag will vanish and people aren't tempted by it. That might be a bit harder on MO (you could hack into the admin panel and simply delete and block the tag...) – Caramdir Apr 4 '11 at 21:01

Pace Jeff & Andrew, I think [soft-question] has a role on math.se and MO, since there is normally a particular level of precision expected of mathematical questions, and [soft-question] can usefully be applied to questions that are on topic but cannot be made that precise. It is "bad" in that it is a meta tag, but the distinction there is pretty sharp (the appliciability of the tag is in line with other major tags) and useful to make. So the general case against meta tags doesn't apply in this case for those sites.

Here, the questions we have are generally problem-solving questions as on SO and [soft-question] is marking an unclear distinction and so is actively harmful. Don't use it here.


I retagged the remaining four questions now. AFAIK the others were already retagged by Caramdir (Thanks!). Mostly I simply removed the tag.

The tag is gone now I hopefully doesn't come back. If so please give me a shout.

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