Today on Literature, a user was able to post a question with the tag by itself. If you look at the first revision of this question, you can see it:

screen shot of untagged question

And they did this on purpose. From the comments section:

what exactly did you tag this question with when you asked it? I'm trying figure out how it ended up [untagged] and I can't figure it out, because you can't tag your own question that... Thanks! – Mithrandir♦ 22 mins ago

@Mithrandir untagged - exactly that. – TheAsh 15 mins ago

Huh. That's... odd; the system is supposed to prevent that from being possible. That's strange. – Mithrandir♦ 13 mins ago

It works for me, too. I was able to post a question with myself on Literature – I posted one and deleted it a moment later, just as a test. But when I try to post a question on other SE sites with , I get an error that looks like this:

screen shot of attempt to post an untagged question on another site

So I don't think it's supposed to work.

It seems like something is different on Literature. Could it have something to do with Literature having a special tag wiki for ? A tag wiki excerpt was created back in September. Did that cause to become a normal tag which people can add, or is something else going on here?

  • 1
    According to meta.stackexchange.com/a/183008/270345 it's blacklisted and can't be added. Probably a bug?
    – muru
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 3:26
  • I am a little baffled. Not sure how this happened, either.
    – user80
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 4:50

2 Answers 2


I added the blacklist to all sites back in 2015.

Literature didn't exist then, so it didn't get the blacklist. We should probably get in the habit of adding it during site creation, but for now I've just added it to all sites created in the interim.


The tag appears automatically when all of a question's tags are removed. When editing a question, it's impossible to remove all the tags, so the only way a question can get down to 0 tags is if its sole tag is removed by the system. This happens because there is an automatic job that removes tags that are used on a single question and that are 6 months old. Single-question tags are common on this site since most questions have a tag for the author of a literary work and a tag for the work itself, and it's natural to have many works and authors with a single question on the site.

A request to remove this automatic job, which has zero benefit and actively hurts the site, was denied by Stack Exchange.

There is a way to preserve a single-use tag: you need to create a tag wiki. This needs to be done before the tag is up for removal: the tag killer job does its work silently, without warning or notifying anyone or leaving any log of its action. The only way to observe it is to watch grow.

Once is created, there's nothing special about it. People can add it to their question like any other existing tag. The tag may have been blacklisted at some point, but evidently it isn't today. There's another automatic job that removes most blacklist entries that haven't been triggered in a while, so even if the tag was blacklisted once, it isn't today, and even if Stack Exchange added it back, it would get deblacklisted again in the future unless the deblacklisting job was turned off.

  • 2
    Since I can't add untagged on other sites such as Japanese.SE, perhaps it's still blacklisted on older sites, but not blacklisted on newer sites, such as Literature.SE?
    – user2100
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 1:40
  • 1
    @snailplane Maybe. I don't know how the blacklist expiration works. It seems to always kick in when it's most annoying. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 11:23
  • Oh, I didn't know about blacklisted tags getting unblacklisted over time. Do you have some meta reference or other statement about this? Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 17:39
  • The [untagged] blacklist shouldn't expire, since it isn't on the blacklisted input list.
    – user80
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 18:05
  • @Zyerah There's a difference between shouldn't and doesn't. Has it expired here? I know I've seen it happen on other sites. Check in literature.stackexchange.com/admin/blacklist (mod-only). If the blacklist hasn't expired, that's a bug. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 18:33
  • I don't normally do this, but — could someone explain the downvotes? I didn't even go on a rant against the tag killer here, my answer is purely informative. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 18:34
  • @Gilles Do you normally see "untagged" there? I don't think I've ever seen it before (and don't see it there now)
    – user80
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 19:11
  • @Zyerah It's currently present on all the sites where I'm a mod. But that wasn't always the case. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 19:29
  • @Gilles Interesting. It's possible, then, I agree. Only an admin can confirm, so I'm curious to hear what it is.
    – user80
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 9:24

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