With the growing number of private space activities, both for commercial and for non-profit (educational/scientific/hobbies/...), it is legitimate to ask questions on whether a regulatory framework already exists and is fulfilling well its job. If there is consensus that the current framework is not adequate, what is the most suitable way to regulate and control, internationally, non-governmental activities in space?

Some on this site may think - and some even promote the belief – that the Outer Space Treaty (OST) and its accompanying Conventions (see here) largely address these questions (for ex. the answer to this question).

The current tags used to flag questions dealing with this subject (“law”, “regulatory”, “treaty” ...) are too broad and diluting. Would a new tag, for example “space-governance” be useful to capture the subject? Can it serve as a convenient gauge of how the Space SE community feels concerned about this specific (and critical) issue? How much this community wants to contribute in progressing consensus, e.g. by exposing the "fog of law" situation?

Questions off-topic of this new tag would be, for example (very short list):

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I made an edit; SE has the feature that if you click the "share" button under a question or an answer, it generates a short but standard URL and if you just drop it in the middle of a post SE will display the full title of the question, which some readers may find helpful. Please feel free to roll back the edit if you prefer this. :-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 29, 2021 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh, Thx. Happy to learn about every editing tips. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Jun 29, 2021 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ But any 'governance' will be by law, treaty, or regulation back here on Earth (at least for the moment). So do you want those to be subsumed in 'governance', or are you just adding a further tag? $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 30, 2021 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ @John Custer, my preference is adding a new tag. In scope, it will be narrower than "law" and "regulation", but broader than "treaty". It could be just an "experimental" tag. If it is used only by me, over a certain time, I am happy to have it removed (if such a process exists). $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Jun 30, 2021 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


Also see answers to Should I create a new tag?

Above all else, do no harm!

Before adding a new tag, we should perhaps do a little house cleaning, because if a new tag is simply created out of thin air, then we need to add it to all existing questions to which it applies. Rather than retagging as many as 200 questions, we should narrow the field.

We should first see how far we can get using moderator tools like merging and synonymization.

Just fyi, from meta FAQ:

I am not sure if there are important distinctions between these five that needs to be preserved, or if they all nicely and neatly fall under one space-governance tag, or if it's somewhere in-between. We need to think about this.

We have already:

Next let's look at how they've been used together. Here is a table of pairings, but note that some of these might also be counted in the next section (three or more):

                int'l-pol  gov't regula  treaty  law
int'l-pol            37      2      2       1      9
   gov't                    35      5       0      6
  regula                           49       2     16
  treaty                                    5      3
     law                                         115

And a few have three or more:

Fyi for the search I used this to make lines, then pasted each one in the search bar:

import itertools
things = ('[international-politics]', '[government]', '[regulatory]',
          '[treaty]', '[law]')
pairs = itertools.combinations(things, 2)
triples = itertools.combinations(things, 3)
quadruples = itertools.combinations(things, 4)
all_five = itertools.combinations(things, 5)

possibles = (pairs, triples, quadruples, all_five)
for results in possibles:
    for pair in results:
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    $\begingroup$ Impressive analysis! Now we have the "helicopter view". We can see for ex. that "treaty" was used only 5 times. We can see that discussions on what is the definition for "outer space" (e.g. Karman line), should be at least tagged with "treaty", logically (how can you agree on a "Highway Code", w/o specifying the term "Highway")?. Does this mean that "treaty" is too "barbaric" a subject for Space SE users? $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Jul 1, 2021 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think moderators need to re-tag questions. The authors of the questions may do, and if they don't, it's an indication that the subject doesn't attract interest. The biggest harm would be that it creates confusion. But, I don't expect it will, it it is well-explained. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Jul 1, 2021 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @NgPh: Past experience has been that retagging is most effective when one person steps up to do it. Leaving it to the original question askers means that it doesn't get done. But the volunteer who does the retagging doesn't have to be a moderator. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Jul 1, 2021 at 22:55
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    $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon agreed (viz.), if and when it comes to that. I still wonder how many of these 200 questions can be consolidated under a single synonymized tag like the one proposed in the question. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 2, 2021 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ I am a newbie. So I am happy with whichever conclusion you think most suitable. If you decide to do some "tag cleaning", I would say that a systematic scope description for each tag will help. The description for "space-governance" could be "Questions covering the problems and challenges for International Space Law, in view of the increased non-governmental activities, both commercial and non-profit". $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Jul 2, 2021 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ @NgPh for a situation of this size (potentially 5 tags, 200 questions) we should wait for additional viewpoints to be expressed by others, and build up at least some amount of consensus. let's give it a little time and see what other viewpoints are expressed. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 2, 2021 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, no problem. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Jul 2, 2021 at 21:12
  • $\begingroup$ @NgPh your question is now featured, hopefully more people will contribute their views i.stack.imgur.com/HvWHF.png $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 8, 2021 at 2:17
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    $\begingroup$ Nice analysis! Do we now have to call you DrUhoh? (A reference to First, do no harm.) $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2021 at 16:15

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