This is not about closing questions labeled as big-list.

What could we do about the tag (x38)? It excerpt says:

Used to tag questions (often Community Wiki) where a collection of replies is requested, such as a list of references, of quotations, etc.

This tag has been used mostly* in the sense of making a list of (x 303), such as books (and related), papers, algorithms, software (and packages), datasets and quotations. (*see examples in the end of this question)

Reference tag excerpts says:

"References" is our generic tag for questions seeking information about books, papers, presentations, videos of lectures, on-line tutorials, etc., regarding any subject matter that is on-topic for Cross Validated.

However, as pointed by @gung the tag big-list is not solely about "references". It is also about: lists asking how to use and not to use statistics, questions to use in an job interview, and others.

Some problems I see with this tag:

  • There are many other questions (asking for references) which are big lists (or potential to become a big list) and they are not tagged with it;
  • Nowadays, big lists threads are not the focus of CV SE;
  • SE discourage the use of meta-tags on main sites. Here is the argument explaining why.
    It is different with tag, which is a on-topic subject of our site and there is specific policy designed to it

Counter-arguments which I can visualize are:

  • Retaggings (specially in old threads) are always a problem, mainly because this action bumps old questions to the active tab, and takes aways the attention of new answers on the active question tab.

Some solutions could involve:

  • let big-list the way it is;
  • rewrite/improve tag excerpts and tag wikis to avoid confusion and to narrow down how to use it correctly;
  • blacklist/burninate the tag;
  • make it a synonym of tag references;
  • other and combinations of above.

Some statistics about the 38 threads labeled as big-list:

  • Nº of threads with Community-wiki status = 25
  • Nº of threads tagged only with big-list tag = 03
  • Closed (or duplicated) = 02

In an attempt to facilitate the discussion (answers and proposals), the 38 threads where grouped into categories and sub-categories to depict into what context they are inserted.

Inside each topic links are ranked as: newest (top) to oldest (bottom)

1 - Big-list related to references.

  1.1 - also tagged with references (or actual synonyms)

  1.2 - not labeled with references or any of its synonyms

2 - Big-list not related to references.

3 - Big-list misused (meaning "list of data")

  • $\begingroup$ Sounds reasonable to me. $\endgroup$
    – Peter Flom
    Nov 1, 2013 at 15:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It wasn't only for references, but for any list of stuff (e.g., jokes, quotations, paradoxes, etc) where this isn't really a single right answer. Such questions have always been frowned upon in the SE system, but then there have been exceptions... $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2013 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ (There is the perennial question of whether we should have the tag in the first place & whether those 6 questions should be closed &/or deleted but...) My hunch is that rather than make [big-list] a synonym for [references], we should retag all the threads other than those 6, & possibly tag a few others as [big-list]. Of course, this needs to be done a little at a time during slow periods, but I think having threads tagged appropriately is a big part of the proper organization of the site & contributes greatly to its usability. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2013 at 16:16
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Nice job, this must have been a lot of work. You make a good point about the meta-tags; [big-list] is a meta-tag--it describes something of the character of the question & the nature of the set of answers that is expected &/or desired. In light of that fact (unless people disagree), it should probably end up being eliminated. $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2013 at 22:54

2 Answers 2


It is clear that is a bad tag; it is a meta tag, it is used inconsistently, and it should go.

However, batch-removing & blacklisting a tag seems to be a complicated procedure that requires an intervention of SE developers; site moderators cannot do it. In contrast, "burninating" a tag simply means manually removing the tag from all questions; this can be done by anybody (see here). If we burninate , it seems unlikely that it will appear again (at least not often): it is not a tag that will come to many people's minds; so blacklisting does not necessarily seem to be needed.

Therefore my suggestion is to manually remove from all 37 threads (cleaning them up, if needed, along the way). This can be easily done in several goes. Yes, it will bump the threads, but it's not a big deal.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sorry, I had missed the link from your answer. So, it seems the best way is indeed to accomplish the task manually (and smoothly). I'll wait for a couple of days to see if someone is against this, and if not, will do the job. Tks. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2015 at 11:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It is a bit strange that mods do not have the power to burninate a tag in one click, but that's how it seems to be. $\endgroup$
    – amoeba
    Oct 16, 2015 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Andre, I started gradually eradicating [big-list]. $\endgroup$
    – amoeba
    Oct 23, 2015 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ ok. I had already started too. I'm doing one per day. $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2015 at 11:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AndreSilva: one per day! You are a man of great patience. $\endgroup$
    – amoeba
    Nov 5, 2015 at 22:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Alright; we are done. Thanks for your help. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2015 at 13:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good job. If we end up deciding to eliminate [best-practices], it will be a longer process... But the discussion there seems to have stopped without much interest from the community. $\endgroup$
    – amoeba
    Nov 22, 2015 at 13:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes. With more experience on SE, I started having this hypothesis that subjects involving tag organizing, if not spotted very accurately and in a manner it will not consume all discussions/time in meta, it can be besides boring, harmful. Because it would (could) trigger many campaigns of tag edits at the same time, while there would be more important things to concentrate on. Not that tags are not important; they are (but it costs a lot to organize old things). Nowadays, I'm not sure if I'd write a post like this again. :) $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2015 at 14:01

Here is my proposal:

Objective: eliminate the meta tag .
The tag would be removed by the method of blacklisting (see slhck's answer). That means the tag is removed and it can't be recreated (also, it does not trigger bumping of posts).

Premise: minimize bumping of threads while performing necessary actions.

Constraints: 3 threads would require edition, but they would be accomplished separately (one per day).


  1. Replace tags in threads which the only current tag is "big list".

    The 3 threads are:

    Statistics interview questions

    • replace big-list by (x23).

    What are the 'big problems' in statistics?

    • replace big-list by (x34).

    How to NOT use statistics

2. Blacklisting of the meta tag by Stack Exchange developer.


  1. Implemented as per amoeba's answer.

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