The tag is for:

Questions about science and the perception of science in a fictional world. Use [science-based] for questions on how to explain fictional things based on real-world science. Use tags relating to specific fields (such as for example [space-exploration], [astronomy], [biology], [xenobiology], [mathematics], [sociology], ...) for questions relating to particular fields of science.

Emphasis mine.

Initially, the tag usage was consistent with this definition; users asked how people would treat science in a set of given circumstances. However, usage quickly departed from this definition.

As noted by the relevant meta discussion Dealing with the science tag, many people tag when they have a question that deals with scientific explanations, but isn't necessarily about the study of science itself. The meta discussion had one solution to this problem:

Now, if tags have been misused, we should correct them, and make sure everyone knows the correct use of the tag. So re-tag and clarify tag-wikis.

However, it's been nearly 4 years since that discussion, and over 300 questions have the tag. No one re-tagged, and now the popular usage, imo, clearly defies the tag wiki. I think the tag wiki has been insufficient to promote proper usage because a) so many questions have already been mistagged, and b) the tag name itself is just too ambiguous.

I propose that we either

  1. Delete the tag, since the large majority of questions with this tag defy the original definition. Salvaging it arguably might not be useful.
  2. Update the tag wiki to include questions that use science, not just questions about in-world science. This course of action assumes that tag definitions do or should change with usage, not the other way around. It also assumes that there is a clear distinction between questions about using science and questions about using science so keeping the tag would create a meaningful distinction.
  3. Rename the tag to to accurately reflect its wiki and original use. Then remove it from irrelevant questions.

What seems like the most reasonable course of action? Alternatively this might be a non-issue so no course of action is needed. Or the original suggestion of retagging existing questions could work if someone commits to doing so, but imo we still need a less ambiguous name.

  • $\begingroup$ For clarity could you please explain how the usage of the tag defies its original definition. What about applying both 2 and 3 together? This would create a new tag based on its wiki & original use. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 25 '20 at 7:13
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android The original definition of the "science" tag pertains to how societies interpret it, whereas today, most people use it for "science-based" questions. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 25 '20 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. So essentially a sociological perspective on the nature of science. Could it deal with how science might be affected by this (given) worldbuilding element type of questions? Just wondering. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 25 '20 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android Yeah, I think so. My issue is that right now, people apply it more at a meta "how do I use science to design this creature/tech" level instead of asking about science in-world. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 26 '20 at 3:48

The tag has been one of those things on my to-do list that I kinda keep meaning to deal with and then keep pushing off again and again and again, and now it's . . . a bit of an issue. I feel like incorrect usage is something we should have been pruning regularly, but now the bush is so overgrown that nuclear options seem tempting.

I'm inclined to vote for the third option - some way of renaming it that makes the usage clearer, and updating the tag wiki accordingly; we could then map as a synonym of . I'd at least like to try this, rather than get rid of it right away - give it a month of so, and see what happens. If, for whatever reason, people are still using it incorrectly . . . we might have to accept that it's a pretty niche tag, and might not be worth the trouble of keeping it around. The asking rate of questions that need it is quite low, so getting rid of wouldn't be terrible.

Regarding the name - I like , but I'd also like to hear other ideas.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Could also try science-as-concept. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Feb 20 '20 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ The hard-science tag is also long overdue for fixing. It is consisting misused by users who confuse it with hard-science SF (where SF is the better acronym for 'science-fiction'). This is a simpler fix. It only needs relabelling. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 26 '20 at 0:00
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    $\begingroup$ Seeing as people have had a week or so to provide input, I think a tag rename might be in order. I'm down for science-in-society or science-as-concept, though I'm leaning slightly toward the former as it feels more concretely sociological and less abstract. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 26 '20 at 3:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra I've performed the rename science -> science-in-society. We might want to synonymize science as a synonym of science-based; I think we'll also have to perform a good bit of retagging to clean up in the improper usage of science-in-society on existing questions. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Feb 26 '20 at 16:17

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