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Questions about Brandon Sanderson and his works are getting ever more frequent on this site, and yet I'm unclear on how our tags in this area should be used. Here's what we have at the moment:

  • , the author tag, with 61 questions most of which don't relate specifically to the author or to his works as a whole but are about some specific book or series of his. One user seems to have made it their mission to add this tag to all questions about Sanderson's works.

  • , the universe tag (?), with 20 questions most of which are about the Cosmere as a whole, although a few relate only to a specific book or series within it.

  • various individual-work tags: , , , and so on. Most if not all of these seem to be used sensibly, for posts which are actually about the work in question.

According to the highest-voted answer to What is the correct usage of individual works tags vs. author tags vs. franchise tags?, the general guidelines for author vs franchise vs individual work tags are:

  • If the question is about a work of fiction, it always gets a tag; if we have to create one, we do that (give it a tag wiki, etc.) If there's confusion over what to call it, bring it to meta.
  • If the work in question is part of a larger franchise, also give it that tag always. This makes it easier for people to follow/ignore/etc. one tag and cover the entire franchise. (For example, I believe all questions about MCU movies should be tagged as such, even if the question is localized to one movie, so I only have to follow one tag.)
  • If the question is asking about a) aspects of the author's life, or b) aspects of the author's work that are not specific to a single work or franchise, then we tag the question with the name of the author.

I'm not familiar enough with all of Sanderson's works to be certain, but I believe the Cosmere covers nearly everything he's written. If this is the case, should we be using instead of on all questions about Cosmere works (even those specific to a single book) and using only on questions relevant to the author himself? (Note that the easiest way to implement this change would not be to retag all questions, but to merge that tag into and then retag only the few questions which are about Sanderson himself.)

Or should we stick with the current usage: considering as more or less a franchise tag and using it on all questions about any of his works, with being used only for questions about the Cosmere as a whole? One argument for this is that more people are likely to be familiar with the name Brandon Sanderson than the word Cosmere. Someone new to Sanderson who wants to post a question about Mistborn is unlikely to have even heard of the Cosmere.

What should our usage guidance be for these tags?

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We should follow the existing policy: use the author tag sparingly and the series tag liberally

Our existing policy on author and franchise tags would point to using as a franchise tag for all of Sanderson’s cosmere books, and not tagging with under most circumstances.

The current policy on author, work, and franchise tag is summarized here. When should we use author tags?

If the question is asking about a) aspects of the author’s life, or b) aspects of the author’s work that are not specific to a single work or franchise, then we tag the question with the name of the author.

And when should we use franchise tags?

If the work in question is part of a larger franchise, also give it that tag always. This makes it easier for people to follow/ignore/etc. one tag and cover the entire franchise. (For example, I believe all questions about MCU movies should be tagged as such, even if the question is localized to one movie, so I only have to follow one tag.)

Although these policies are infrequently enforced and frequently not followed, they are still the blueprint that we should follow.

  1. The Cosmere is what Sanderson calls the universe that many of his books, such as the Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive, are set in:

    I really don’t. I was wanting to try and do it for this year, but the fact that I have Stormlight on my plate means that I won’t. The time to have been able to do that would have been last year, but I wrote the new Wax and Wayne novels instead. It is going to happen—in the timeline of the Cosmere it needs to have happened by the time that I am doing Mistborn Era 3; the 1980s-level-technology trilogy. We need to be caught up on where Elantris is, so that the whole Cosmere timeline can happen. So it will happen, but I know it won’t be for at least another few years.

    Perhaps more important, he even calls the series the “Cosmere books”:

    With my Cosmere books — which are the shared universe of my epic fantasies — I need to be a little more rigorous. There are fundamental underlying principles that guide the magic systems, and so there’s a larger developmental phase before I start writing the book.

  2. Not all of Brandon Sanderson’s work is set in the Cosmere universe. He is a prolific author, and has written several other series:

    • The Reckoners, a series set in a world in which superpowers corrupt those who possess them.
    • Alcatraz, a series about a young boy with the unusual power of breaking things.
    • The Rithmatist, a series about chalk magic in an alternate Earth. One book has been released and more are planned.
    • A number of stand-alone short stories, written for anthologies and so forth. Note that the tag might come in useful if people ever ask questions about these.

    The point is, the Cosmere is a franchise or universe, not just a word for everything written by Brandon Sanderson.

  3. A priori, it seems clear that is an author tag. It’s the name of the author, and as long as it’s around people will want to attach it to anything he’s written. Indeed, that’s what the question suggests: to use it to tag all of Brandon Sanderson’s work. If the tag name is the same as the author’s name, and it’s used to tag all their work, I think it’s hard to argue that it’s not an author tag, and thus covered by our current author tag policy.

  4. We should strive for consistency. We don’t tag every book question , and we don’t tag every question about a book . We do use the franchise or series name for many such books, even when the name is less official than “Cosmere,” which is the term Brandon uses.

  5. Sure, a lot of people who ask questions about works in the Cosmere may not know that that’s the correct tag. But that’s no different from what happens with . Most people who watch Iron Man probably have no idea what the MCU is. This really happens with a lot of series tag, perhaps the majority: people know the book name, but not the series name. For that matter, people frequently stick in questions. We have plenty of people willing to retag or take out tags in those cases. It will be a whole lot easier for a low-volume franchise like the Cosmere.

We should follow the existing guidelines and avoid using to tag questions about his individual books or series. And, although it is less necessary, we should also use a franchise tag if possible, for which seems like the natural and most convenient option.

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EDIT: I've now completed the merge of into , and re-added the author tag to the few questions mentioned below, as well as recreating the tag wiki and excerpt for the newly created tag.


I've finally got round to having a proper go through the questions tagged .

First, a search for those not tagged or showed me which questions needed to have the author tag removed altogether rather than replaced with the Cosmere tag. I pruned the author tag out of a few questions about non-Cosmere works such as Reckoners, Rithmatist, and Wheel of Time, leaving only five questions in that list:

  • three which will be fine after the merge, being about Cosmere works;
  • two which probably should have the author tag and will need retagging after the merge.

Then, a search for those which actually mention Sanderson (ignoring most of the questions which are just about his works and not the author at all) drew my attention to a couple more interesting cases:

Later on today (I'll wait a while so as not to fill up too much of the front page with my tag edits), I'll merge into and then retag the 3-4 questions mentioned above. Some helpful souls have already edited the tag wikis for these two tags to reflect how they should be used, so by the end of today this issue should finally be laid to rest.

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  • - since the Cosmere is really more of a "bonus" meta level of the universe and doesn't apply to all of his novels (Reckoners, Rithmatist, Alcatraz, other things involving "parallel earths" have nothing to do with the Cosmere) and is barely involved even for some works that include it, it really is a distinct thing from everything else. Last I checked the wiki for it, it specifically says to only use it for questions related to the meta-setting, not just tag every Sanderson Cosmere work with it. I think that should be its intent, and we should continue that way.

  • - people seem to have very different intents with tags that end up being "super-tags" that a bunch of other different tags end up falling under, and author tags are definitely that. I have no problem with it being slapped on every question related, because I think its value diminishes if it's not used that way; I would have no problem finding related tags and related works through tag wiki entries, but I think most guests to the site don't actually do that.

I guess this boils down to continue current usage, with a pruning of if it's misapplied.

  • I also think wax-wayne-novels is a horrible name for a tag, and have tried to figure out what to rename it, but considering even the author has just gone with that or "mistborn era 2", I admit defeat there. – Radhil Oct 21 '16 at 14:48
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    Having "Cosmere" not be about books set in the Cosmere universe seems unnecessarily complicated. – Valorum Oct 21 '16 at 15:19
  • @Valorum - I guess it is two different standards for two different "meta" tags, but the Cosmere is an odd-duck to begin with so I didn't give it much thought. It isn't really treated like it's own franchise, just something that gets glimpsed in odds and ends. Although that may be changing, which may prove your point. – Radhil Oct 21 '16 at 15:21
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    @Valorum The thing is that most people who aren't dedicated Sanderson fans probably haven't even heard of the Cosmere. As I mentioned in the question, it would be unrealistic to expect everyone who's read Mistborn, say, to know what the Cosmere is in order to look for the tag. brandon-sanderson works better as a 'franchise' tag simply because everyone with even the slightest interest in that franchise knows the name. – Rand al'Thor Oct 21 '16 at 15:36
  • Wax and wayne is what sanderson himself calls the series which is why i picked it for the tag – Himarm Oct 21 '16 at 16:26
  • @Himarm - when I first started hearing about the plans for that series, it came up as "Mistborn adventures" or "Mistborn 1.5". Which seem equally meh to the others. Ah well. – Radhil Oct 21 '16 at 18:48
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    @himarm wax-and-wayne seems a better fit :p – user31178 Oct 23 '16 at 23:48

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