This answer is currently our consensus policy on using work, franchise, and author tags, and (in my opinion) seems to cover most situations pretty well. It doesn’t really seem to cover or at least discuss short stories.
KutuluMike: I never came up with a good answer for short stories.
With books, we generally tag with the name of the book and not the name of the author (unless the question is specifically about the author or general aspects of their work), per the previously mentioned policy.
There are several problems with extending this policy to short stories, though, and creating a tag for each short story that someone asks about.
- A number of short stories have long titles compared to books.
- More pertinent, a lot of short stories have very short, undescriptive titles.
- People are less likely to be very knowledgeable about one short story (and not a bunch of others) than they are to be knowledgeable about a single book or series.
- People are extraordinarily unlikely to subscribe to most short story tags.
People are not going to search for questions about a specific short story. Even if they remember a specific short story, they are more likely to search for short stories by a certain author, because of their interest in that author. If (as is more than likely) they don’t even remember the name of the short story that they’re wondering about, they’ll definitely just search by author.
Short stories are often rather thin on plot and worldbuilding, and thus potential questions. For this reason, as well as issues of obscurity, except for the most famous short stories (award winners and so forth), repeat questions are quite unlikely. We might end up with a lot of one-question tags.
In short, the author is the unifying element of most short story questions.
In addition, as another way of looking at things, I applied the rough (and disputed) tag creation guidelines discussed in this post, to a hypothetical tag for, say, “We Who Stole the Dream,” a short story by a pretty famous sci-fi author, identified here.
- Could someone be an expert on that story? Not really. -1
- Could a question be tagged only with that? Yes, if we adopt the opposite of the policy suggested here. +2
- Would the tag have an unambiguous meaning? Yes, +2.
- Is it likely to be used correctly? Yes, +2
- Are there "enough" (> 15) but not "too many" (> 10% site-wide) questions that qualify for the tag? Definitely not. -1.
- Would people use the tag to find questions to answer? Quite unlikely. They’d just search for the name of the author. -1.
- Will anyone favorite or ignore it? No. -1.
Could it be used to feed questions to a specialized chatroom? Nah. -1.
Finally, could it productively be used to search for questions? Sometimes. +1.
The total comes to 0, compared to 8 or more for a good tag. Stories with vague titles would come out better in the “productive search” category (+2), but worse in the unambiguous meaning category (+1) and “likely to be used correctly” (-1).
Finally, this basically is our current de facto policy. The few questions about short stories that I see tend to be tagged with the name of the author.
Should we simply tag most short stories with the name of the author?