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About a year ago, Jeff Atwood wrote a blog post titled The Death of Meta Tags. In it, he wrote:

## From this point on, meta-tagging is explicitly discouraged.

How can you tell you’re using a meta-tag? It’s easier than you might think.

1. If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag. Every tag you use should be able to work, more or less, as the only tag on a question. Meta-tags, like [beginner], [subjective], and [best-practices], are useless by themselves — they tell you nothing at all about the content of the question.

2. If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it’s probably a meta-tag. In a cruel, ironic twist, the meaning of the tag [subjective] itself … is actually subjective. Ditto for [best-practices] and [beginner]. Best practices to whom? Beginner by what criteria? These tags are impossible to define by anything remotely resembling an objective metric. In comparison, the meaning of tags like [java], [c#], and [javascript] are crystal clear to all but the nuttiest of nutbags.

This is now policy for all SE sites, and consequently, I'm about to blow away the tags and . Please help the site out by not recreating them, okay? Thanks!

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retagged Mar 7, 2014
I am not so sure that "reference-request" is a meta tag.

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I used the reference-request tag on my question. I'm not sure I see the harm of it. It is just a signal that I'm looking for a book or article that explains my question, not for a long and elaborate answer (which probably isn't reasonable to expect for that question anyway).

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For the most part, I agree. However, math.se seems to have a successful meta-tag: homework. But, they have a rather strict faq on its use. I agree with help-a-mathematician, but the reference-request needs to be discussed. I'm not sure if it is useful in the long term, per Jeff Atwood's objections, but this one, in particular, needs to be looked at more closely.

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answered Sep 15, 2011 by (240 points)
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