Currently, there are 2 questions tagged and another two that could fall under this category, one of which is closed and another with a history of being closed.

In addition, I've heard a couple of people disagreeing with the creation/existence of such a tag.

So this question is twofold:

  1. Are questions about 'mythology' on topic?
  2. If they are, do we want the tag?
  • $\begingroup$ Note: either way, we need to be careful about how we define mythology: asking about complexity classes that aren't physically realisible (they can still be implemented in theory, even if it requires some impossibly large/exponential overhead etc.) isn't the same as asking about FTL communication or other pseudoscience $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Mod Mar 23 '18 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ Hey just a thing, can you not post links to peoples posts that are being downvoted? It a huge pain because it piles them on $\endgroup$ – Christopher Apr 6 '18 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Christopher Sometimes it can be necessary, but in this case, it's not really, so I've edited the link out $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Mod Apr 6 '18 at 21:55


I'd argue that asking about misconceptions, whether accidentally or on purpose, is important. That's not what I disagree with here. (I actually think one of the questions tagged with is pretty decent - the one on the quantum bogo sort - because it asks an interesting question about why the algorithm doesn't work and what we can learn from it from a quantum computing persepective.)

I think it's perfectly on topic to ask why an idea about quantum computing is wrong, if one is clearly asking in good faith. I also think that removing questions explicitly about misconceptions produces an unfortunate juxtaposition - if someone asks a question in which they are clearly thinking incorrectly about the subject, that's a misconception which I think most here would agree should be corrected in an answer to the question (and which I think most here would agree is on topic) - but misconceptions in general are supposed to be off-topic under our rule. So that bans a large set of good questions from the site.

So, yes, these questions should be on-topic.


Quantum Mythology

The real problem here is that as a tag is honestly kind of terrible. It uses a term that is not academically used (i.e., I can't think of anyone who would think of a misconception in their understanding of the field as a "quantum myth" as that conjures up the image of Zeus in a lab trying to put a quantum computer together, which is...ehm...well, obviously not right). This makes it harder to find the correct tag. Further, the style of the tag would drive off experts. If an expert comes and finds this tag which is not commonly used and easily brings up the wrong idea of what it means, they'll think this is a crackpot site and run away.

Finally, is just a simpler, more commonly used term for what we're talking about. So if we were to have a tag for this, it should be .

Should we have a tag at all?

I'd argue, though, that we shouldn't have a tag at all, for one simple reason: this tag is a meta-tag. It doesn't convey much useful about the question, and a lot of questions could have it depending on your definition.

The purpose of a tag is to help categorize. If a tag can have a varying amount of questions in it due to the vague definition, then it can't convey much information about the tag, and therefore shouldn't be used. This on top of the fact that the tag would be a meta-tag, which is discouraged to begin with, makes me think that a tag called OR would be a bad idea.

Tl;dr: These types of questions are on-topic but should be tagged normally, without any special tag.

  • $\begingroup$ "Tl;dr: These types of questions are on-topic but should be tagged normally, without any special tag." Hmm, would a tag with the name "education" or something be appropriate and not confusing? I think that this really is crucial to my questions: I want to be able to convince 'proponents of the myths' to learn. Hence, I must explain to a novice! That is important info! $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Reread the section on "Should we have a tag at all?" - education would be a. a meta tag and b. rather impossible to define well. So I'd say that again, education would be a bad tag. $\endgroup$ – karatechop Mod Mar 24 '18 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ Really? How should questions on teaching Quantum Computing be tagged? None at all? Why? I do think these things are done on other sites. Am I wrong in this? Could you explain? $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ Education is too broad of a tag. I would bring up the whole idea of teaching quantum computing and how to teach it in a separate post, as that may not even be on-topic, but you seem to be swerving from the main thrust of your original post, that things clarifying misconceptions should be on topic (I agree) and tagged with quantum-mythology (I do not agree). $\endgroup$ – karatechop Mod Mar 24 '18 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I'll make a separate meta for this, I think this is more important than bickering on something we aren't going to agree on $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, there are no true education questions or tags yet. Let's just wait until it pops up naturally $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 25 '18 at 0:14

It's difficult to envision "myths" becoming a useful categorization of content. I don't feel particularly strong about its inclusion or not, but I'd like to answer in context of the purpose of tags and where this one went wrong.

Tags are meant to describe the subject of the question. The reason the popular myths question is closed is it didn't really contain a specific problem statement that could be answered definitively in the space of a post. Stack Exchange is about assuring the most-correct, most-regarded solutions rise to the top — but "bikeshed questions" refer to topics that are simple/trivial enough that (nearly) anyone can offer an opinion, and often (nearly) everyone does. That's why "List your favorite {x}" questions tend to create a big list of answers that are all essentially correct. It's a bit of junk food that's difficult to deprive "the next guy" from asking too, so they tend to fill the site.

But I'm drifting off topic.

If you eliminate questions about listing myths or asking if {x} qualifies as a myth, you are left with practical, answerable questions that someone decided to (inconsistently) apply "myth" status. Whatever that means, the myth tag starts to describe some other axes of the question (like hard, important, or frequently-asked) rather than describing the subject of the question itself. E.g.:

  • I hear this problem popularly described one way, but it is probably something else
  • Let's mark this question as something most folks generally misunderstand
  • Warning: If you don't know what you're talking about, you'll probably get this wrong

Whether I got that categorization correct or not, it doesn't seem likely we'll have a subject space called "myths" that wouldn't better be tagged with the actual subject itself. Question authors often hunt for keywords they just happened to mention in the text, so when these meta keywords actually match a tag, they often fail to describe the subject of the question at all.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree with this answer, but I also feel that I should point this out. Myths by definition refer to stories that attempt to explain the unexplainable. And I can't see how you can answer a question with an unexplainable subject. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Burkhart Mar 23 '18 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielBurkhart Well, an alternative dictionary definition of myth is "a widely held but false belief or idea". For example as used in "the belief that evening primrose oil helps to cure eczema is a myth, according to dermatologists". $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 23 '18 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue You are correct, there are other uses for the word myth. That said, you could easily misuse the tag if you are not thinking in the context of the alternative definition. I stand by my suggestion as stated here. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Burkhart Mar 23 '18 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielBurkhart Sure, I agree. That's exactly what I was talking about in the chat, today. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 23 '18 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ I have internally defined 'myths' as those 'tales' that require special care to dissect for meaning and be very very careful to explain. This is a crucial property of the tag subject, not merely a bikeshed. Also, this useful categorisation, 'quantum bogo sort' hits this squarely and cannot be tagged meaningfully with little else (ignore synonyms) $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ My tag wiki has been rejected mostly because someone didn't like the tag. Can someone suggest one that will not get rejected, perhaps @Blue as you claimed to have rejected it, so I'd guess you know what to avoid? (damn shame I can't track my edit) $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ Well, go ahead and play language games as much as you want, but I (creator and 'championer' of the tag) really don't care about the name. I'm sure we can get a compromise with the synonyms. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ So, as dispelling the myth is a useful character of the question not present in other tags, I do think this tag is a good idea, although perhaps poorly named. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielBurkhart Mythology exists and is a sort of objective science. Oh and the trick here is to cut out the myths and look at the real meat of the matter, so to speak. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Discretelizard On going through Robert, heather and Mithrandir's opinions, I feel that it would be wise decision to get rid of that tag completely. We should not create orthogonal axes of question classification unless absolutely necessary. Create new tags only when there is no existing tag which describes the question well enough. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 24 '18 at 5:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Don't forget the main reason tags were created in the first place! They were created so that later visitors can find/sort questions relevant to them, quickly and easily! Pretty sure no visitor would dig through a mythology tag to look for a question that might help them in their study or research. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 24 '18 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue I do think your orthogonality argument has merit, could you expand on that a bit? $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Oh and I am always in favor of keeping tags and currently the tags are on my questions, so once again I'm putting my foot down, once I again I reject your request. (I saw no strong dissaproval from Robert or Mithrandir (that of you and heather I already knew), perhaps you can clarify that ) $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertCartaino Could you please give us a conclusive decision about how to ultimately deal with the existence of tags, against which there is a clear community consensus? I, heather, and Mithrandir (and perhaps you) clearly do not want the presence of the tag "qauntum-mythology" (from my point of view). Who takes the final decision? Should I just go ahead and clear out that tag? Please make that clear if possible, to avoid "internal conflicts" within the community. It is very stressful for me to keep on and on debating about this with the user Discrete lizard, who seems reluctant. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 24 '18 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Discretelizard I am not willing to converse about this particular issue any more, without further instructions from either Robert or other community moderators. Let's wait and listen to the people, who actually have experience in running such sites. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 24 '18 at 23:19

Firstly, quantum mythology isn't a standard term. You won't find it used in any academic paper or Wikipedia.


  1. The dictionary definitions of mythology are:

    • a collection of myths, especially one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition

    • the study of myths

I don't see how such a topic would be relevant to a technical quantum computing site.

  1. I don't really prefer the existence of such a tag. But if others are insisting, since those questions ask about common misconceptions regarding quantum computing, I recommend changing the tag name to something more explicit and self-explanatory. I suggest something like or or maybe just . We already have quantum as prefix before several tags on the main site. Using that prefix too much, makes things sound cringy. So I would strongly recommend not to add that prefix to the new tags, unless absolute necessary (i.e. when it is an actual term used in academia).
  • $\begingroup$ I was with you until your point #2 solution. It seems to contradict (or ignore) the rest of your post. $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Mar 23 '18 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertCartaino My point is basically that, "mythology" isn't the correct description of the type of questions for which the previous tag was being used. But maybe we could use something like "myths-and-misconceptions" if they are insisting on it. We had a long chat about this in the chat room. By the way, I'd be fine with totally getting rid of it. I've edited the post to reflect my pov. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 23 '18 at 16:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Blue As I explained in this comment, I can't see how you can answer a question about an unexplainable subject. I feel like "misconceptions" would work better (as in be less likely to get misused) than "myths-and-misconceptions." $\endgroup$ – Daniel Burkhart Mar 23 '18 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielBurkhart I personally don't like having "myth" as a tag. I mentioned that several times in the chat room today. Anyway, I've updated the post to reflect my suggestions if others are insisting on making such a tag. And yes, maybe "misconceptions" would be a better tag-name. But, have a look at Robert's answer. He does have a point. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 23 '18 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ Is there anyone very much against just keeping the current name as a synonym? $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ Oh and that it isn't a standard term doesn't mean it shouldn't be. And you do have an authoritative paper on 'quantum myths' with a better name then, I presume? $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ Oh and this tag is precisely a collection of things that can be considered 'myths' and the careful study of them. Well, at least my two questions with the tag. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Discretelizard "Oh and that it isn't a standard term doesn't mean it shouldn't be." Yes. This is professional site. We want to avoid becoming another Yahoo Answers or Reddit. "And you do have an authoritative paper on 'quantum myths' with a better name then, I presume?" No, I don't. Secondly, yeah, I am very much against keeping quantum-mythology as a tag synonym. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 24 '18 at 5:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue I take offense that a tag name makes this site Yahoo Answers. That is a ridiculous hyper-bole! $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ A tag name like that would set a bad precedent and would justify even more such bad tag names. The rule of thumb is to not set bad precedents. @Discretelizard $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 24 '18 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Ah, the slippery slope argument! Are you going to pile on the fallacies, or give meaningful arguments? (yes, I'm aware of the fallacy fallacy, this is a question, not an argument!) $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Discretelizard I, Robert, heather, Mithrandir have given a lot of meaningfuI arguments as to why we don't want that tag. But I have been waiting for long to hear a meaningful argument as to why you think that tag you made should be kept. Unfortunately, I haven't found any reasonable point from your side. So your question/request for a reasonable argument from my side, is fallacious in itself (since I've given many). $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 24 '18 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Ah yes, but I adress those arguments. Really, I have the feeling I'm running on repeat (I've told you under the original question why I like the tag and its not just the silly name!) What exactly do you want? A monologue? If you so desire, perhaps. Maybe in chat would be better. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 24 '18 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ As I said, let us wait for Robert's (or other community mods') response. I'm not willing to on about this non-issue-turned-into-big-issue any further. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Mar 24 '18 at 23:28


I wrote one of the questions mentioned :P

The tag proposed would be a meta-tag :/


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