Recently it was decided that the questions are no longer on-topic - as a result of the discussion here: Revisiting autograph identification questions (conclusion: off-topic).

As far as I can tell, so far the only thing that was done as a consequence of this was adding a sentence mentioning that the the questions of this type are off-topic into the tag-excerpt and tag-wiki. (Certainly some users read the tag-wiki before using the tag, but it is quite easy to overlook and many users who ask a new question and use this tag might simply miss the information given in the tag-excerpt.)

Are there some further steps that should be done in order to better handle the fact that the tag is now deprecated? Should something be done with the tag? Should something be done with the existing questions?

There is a related question on meta (which is intended to be general - not about one single tag) and there was also a short discussion in chat about this tag. Various suggestions of various steps that might be useful were mentioned there:

  • Historical lock on the existing questions. (This would make clearer to a user browsing the site that questions like this are no longer on-topic.)
  • Blacklisting the tag. (This would prevent adding new questions with this tag.)
  • Burninating the tag. (This would remove all occurrences of the tag in existing questions.)

And probably there are some other things which possibly might be useful.

Question: Would some of the steps mentioned above be useful? What would be advantages/disadvantages? Are there some other things that should be done?

EDIT: Comments such as this one suggest that some users might consider the existence of the tag as indication question about autograph identification are on-topic and they are then surprised that the question is put on-hold/closed as off-topic. (Since I assume that this particular question might be later deleted, either manually or by roomba, I have added link to a copy of the comment in chat. For users with sufficient reputation to see deleted content, here is also a direct link.)


3 Answers 3


I think that if we truly want to stop the inflood of autograph questions that are now considered off-topic, we would need to delete every autograph question on our site.

All autograph identification questions are now closed as soon as they are posted, yet they continue to be posted. Why? My theory is that when someone out there has an autograph they need identified, they google "autograph identification" or "who signed this baseball" or "whose autograph is this" and our site is on the first page of results, because despite the fact that the questions are closed, we currently have 40 questions on this topic on our site.

If we delete all of these questions and get rid of the tag, our site would disappear from the search results on those types of queries. My guess is that this would stop those questions from appearing on our site so frequently.

  • What would be the next course of action? This question is a year old, and this issue still exists to this day.
    – user16112
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 19:16
  • @user16112 My suggestion is in my answer: Delete all autograph identification questions and remove the tag from existence. Users with enough rep can start voting to delete, or if my answer here gets enough votes, perhaps a moderator will take action.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 20:44
  • 1
    I ask with respect to when such action would take place. We can suggest and agree, but all I have seen are suggestions and general consensus. A request was made eight months ago that has only recently been addressed with a suggestion to alter close reasons (which, in my opinion, wouldn't deter the behavior). I respect going through the proper processes, but in my opinion, it is an elephant in the room situation and the elephant continues to be left unresolved.
    – user16112
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 11:53

I would be also for adding historical lock on the existing questions.

On some of other sites where I participate I have seen many posts (on meta) asking: "Why was my question put on hold? Look, similar question here is still open." So many users use past question as an evidence what is on-topic, without checking how the criteria of the site evolved in the past. (It seemd that this haven't been problem on this site so far, but eventually Sports Stack Exchange might grow to become a bigger site than it is today.)

Using historical lock would clearly mark that such questions are no longer on-topic (although they might have been on-topic when posted), but for some reason they are still worth keeping on the site.


In this specific case I'd recommend burnination.

As already mentioned by me in a comment to this meta it's probably a better idea to remove the possibility to find this tag on google and remove any other historical occurrences of it. Old questions that are closed and have no good answer will be deleted by the system anyway (unless they have been voted up enough), so the historical value of these questions is very low.

Why not just blacklist it?

  • people would still find it on google and we get traffic we do not want (Off-topic posters; they could just post questions without using this tag)
  • If we later allow it to some extent it's easier to re-create (no staff interaction needed afaik)

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