This question is about the tag . A meta question about it already occurred here, but was less specific (and didn't generate much discussion). See also the discussion in the comments of this answer to the question "tags which encourage off-topic questions".

As a top-level tag, it is one of the of the arXiv math subjects. As an arXiv subject has a quite bad reputation, as it plays there some kind of trash role, e.g. to redirect unlikely proofs of fancy conjectures.

At MO I don't see the point to use it as a trash-tag, since we already have to retag randomly tagged highly off-topic questions. And for questions that are correctly tagged but off-topic, keeping the tag is essentially harmless or even helpful (e.g., I don't see the point to remove "" to a question of beginner level in group theory, even keeping it can accelerate closure).

Back to my point, my suggestion would be to use the tag to questions where it literally applies, that is, whose field is not specific to any subfield of mathematics, but still includes some mathematical discussion (e.g., would apply to "what is your favorite trick...?" or "examples of misleading widely use notation", rather than to "Should I tell my adviser that I don't like my subject" or "Why does arXiv reject papers such that (...)"). Thus would not be just a clone of . And I would find it quite useful in such a role, even if it will naturally have a ratio of off-topic questions higher than average.

What do you think?

  • $\begingroup$ So in short: use gm.general-mathematics for mathematics questions which do not fall into a particular subfield of mathematics, and use soft-question for questions interesting to mathematicians which are not mathematics questions? $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl Roughly yes. soft-question has a tag excerpt (Questions that are about research in math, or about the job of a research mathematician, without being mathematical problems or statements in the strictest sense. Do not use this tag for easy or supposedly easy mathematical questions.) which I find useful and its current use is OK. I guess the role of gm.general-mathematics will remain a bit vague, but I especially want to exclude it as dedicated trash tag. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ "mathematics questions which do not fall into a particular subfield of mathematics" could make a good tag excerpt. The current tag excerpt "Questions about mathematics which don't fall into the other arXiv categories. If you have a general question about mathematics but it is not research level, it's off-topic but it might be welcomed on Mathematics Stack Exchange" is quite bad, I think. Questions are usually redirected to MathSE because they're not of research level, not because they're about "general mathematics"; they are often focussed. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 12:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There is a recommendation that every question should have a top-level tag. (See: Why are MO tags formatted as they are? and Frequently asked questions about tagging on MathOverflow.) If we want to follow this recommendation, there will be many questions where this is the only suitable top-level tag. (There are many questions which are not tied to a specific area of mathematics, e.g., list of examples from various area, asking for advice, etc.) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 8:13


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