A recent question introduced the tag. Click here to read its wiki.

I like this tag. I think it reflects the highly creative nature of the site and balances the fact that far too often we favor the science-half of "science fiction."

We consider "how to name my X" questions off-topic and I completely agree with that. However, I can see a difference in that technobabble (whether a word or a full explanation) is specifically trying to reflect a definable concept.

  • This is reality, and...
  • This is what I want to do with reality...

So, I'm looking for community concensus. Do we keep the tag, or do we burn it and group technobabble as off-topic with "how to name my X" questions (or is there an alternative)?

I'll post the two basic yes/no answers for folks to vote on.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I think it was meant as a joke. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Aug 9, 2018 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent, the creation of the tag? Why do you suggest that? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Aug 9, 2018 at 22:48
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Not only is it a joke, it should be destroyed. We shouldn't try to spread scientific technobabble jargon, which is a form of misinformation--and I'm not comfortable, either from the ethics perspective or the scientific perspective, with the idea of making scientific language seem "complex babble" and spreading inaccurate, cherry-picked, fake science as the real stuff. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2018 at 0:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @FoxElemental, that's curious, because we do it all the time. I'm also wondering about the +3no, -3yes spread, which suggests our ethical members are voting twice.... $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Aug 10, 2018 at 4:13
  • $\begingroup$ I think technobabble could be an interesting halfway point btwn sciencebased and magic. For those that want to strictly avoid magic but have found that sciencebased or hardscience just does not support them...yet. It's a tag to say "try stick with science terms as much as possible but you can use your imagination, please avoid the concept of magic". TB in no-way implies it is real scientific fact. Personnally, I double check all the science jargon I find on wb.se ...or any forum for that matter :) $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2018 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ Some users take science-based to mean that already. I've found plenty of users who want science-based, without having to be hard-science, but only actual science, they don't want the imagative workarounds. Some really don't mind the more imaginative answers but still want to avoid magic. And some want their magic to be more sciencebased... It's a tricky slope to navigate sometimes. Maybe we do need a wider range of choices than HardScience>ScienceBased>Magic $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2018 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @EveryBitHelps It gets even more complex than that. It's perfectly possible to have science-based magic; 107 questions thus far have that specific combination of tags! (78 of which are currently open.) $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 10, 2018 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling so true. now image if we created one tag for that combination. save a tag slot for something else :) $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2018 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH What is the intent of the tag? What does it give us...or maybe better asked, what would questions with this tag be asking for? $\endgroup$
    – James
    Aug 13, 2018 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ @James, Have you reviewed the tag wiki? If not, look there first and I can build on it. I'm not sure it's important, though. This is such a hated idea that I can't imagine securing additional support. Too many people favor the word "science" over the word "fiction" in "science fiction." $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Aug 13, 2018 at 18:07

1 Answer 1


I'll post the two basic yes/no answers for folks to vote on.

Well, you deleted those answers (with "no" at +5/-0 and "yes" at +0/-4), so here's my take on it.

Used for questions seeking plausible descriptions of factual scientific failures.

Here already, the tag seems awfully similar to perhaps a combination of and (which themselves are somewhat problematic, being meta tags).

Explaining things is something we pretty much do all day long.

Explaining things that can't be explained by science is more or less the bread and butter of this site. It's how we end up with popular tags being for example or or or or or or or or or or or... well, you get the idea. Even though they (and many other things that get discussed regularly on Worldbuilding SE) cannot be explained by science in our world, that's no reason why explanations cannot be internally logically consistent. We also established very early on that unless the question specifically allows for magic, magic can't be used to answer that question.

A proposed tag should make sense in a sentence on the form "I'm an expert in ...". Those I listed above, and many others that see significant use, seem to pass that test pretty well. "I'm an expert in time travel" isn't an unreasonable thing to say, even though one could argue that time travel is impossible according to our understanding of our universe (which is a different issue). "I'm an expert in technobabble" sounds rather less useful.

What's been done here seems to me to be more or less to add a tag that could apply to just about every question on the site. That adds nothing useful for categorization of questions, and is another slot used out of the five tags one can add to a question.

My vote is for no, it's not a good tag.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ To top on your excellent answer, we usually downvote or delete answers solely based on technobabble. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Aug 12, 2018 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ I closed those questions because given the time period during which they were answered it seemed highly probable that people were double-voting. In other words, it wasn't really +5/-4, it was +5/0 (removing the double votes). If I could trust that people hadn't double-voted, I'd have left them up. I felt that that the aggregate vote on the question would be more realistic. At -8, it's an obvious "no." So I'm going to unhook the tag and let it die (if that hasn't been done already). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Aug 28, 2018 at 23:44

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