Jason Baker's answer to Let's figure out our Tolkien tags provides an excellent description of the situation as it currently stands with tags related to the Tolkien legendarium, but it doesn't really do much to suggest a path forward, especially for the tag.

The purpose of this meta post is to establish some consensus on what to do with our Tolkien tags:

- How should the and tags be used?

- What tag should we use for the Tolkien legendarium as a whole?

Either of the and tags could be used as a general legendarium tag, and both have partially been used in that way so far. But the latter has a tag wiki saying it should only be for questions specifically about the Middle-Earth region, while the former is an author tag and therefore subject to this meta post; although its tag wiki says it should be for questions about Tolkien's works, people have in recent weeks been removing it from questions not about Tolkien himself. On the other hand, it would be nice to have a general legendarium tag: works like LotR, the Hobbit, the Silmarillion, etc. are clearly in the same universe, and it's one of the biggest and most famous fantasy universes out there.

When making this decision, let's try not to worry too much about existing usage patterns for these tags. How they've been used so far is very inconsistent, and we shouldn't let the large volume of poorly tagged questions stop us from creating a consistent system.

If nothing else, we can make sure new questions will be tagged consistently from now on, thus reducing the problem to a finite one; the hundreds of existing Tolkien questions can then be retagged at our leisure, bit by bit over months or years. Let's not worry about the size of the task when deciding on a course of action - adding the Star Trek tag to hundreds of questions is also a mammoth task, and we have enough willing helpers. It's more important to make ourselves a good system than to minimise the work we need to do. Mod tools such as tag merges will also be available if needed.

  • It might be worth anticipating the imminent release of "Shadow of War" (the sequel to "Shadow of Mordor"), and covering the use of game-specific tags, and how they might, or might not, fit into the legendarium. Mar 8, 2017 at 15:08
  • @DavidThomas, they don't fit. They're non-canon and awful (although I enjoyed playing it). If they were to be tagged, they should just be tagged Shadow of War and any relevant tags ( elves / lord-of-the-rings / middle-earth ...)
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 8, 2017 at 21:38
  • On another note, how do we decide our course of action? Is there an answer that gets accepted which decides the fate?
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 8, 2017 at 21:44
  • @Edlothiad Once an answer gets enough votes to reflect a reasonable consensus, I'll accept it. Note that the current highest-voted answer here just says how we should be using tags rather than what we should do to fix existing usage, but the latter may be doable in one massive editing event.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 8, 2017 at 22:15
  • @Randal'Thor, the latter post is what led me back here to ask about how a consensus is reached. The reason I asked is because I fully agree with the below answer, except for the usage of the arda tag (which I expressed in the comments)
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 8, 2017 at 23:12
  • @Edlothiad The arda suggestion is only a minor part of that answer - even in the header it only says "possibly a new arda tag". The main proposal being made there is about the usages of the big tags middle-earth, tolkien, and tolkien-legendarium.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 8, 2017 at 23:14
  • @Randal'Thor, just making sure I fully understood the process :) thanks!
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 8, 2017 at 23:18
  • It would solve a great many problems if Stack Exchange tags could be given a hierarchical structure, making it unnecessary to apply a more inclusive tag when a more restrictive one has already been applied. Of course searching for a broad tag would have to find all questions marked with sub-tags.
    – PJTraill
    Mar 9, 2017 at 12:02
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    @PJTraill Related feature request on main meta.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 9, 2017 at 12:13
  • @Randal'Thor: Thanks, have voted that up – but am not too optimistic, given that Jeff is said to have refused such requests in the past.
    – PJTraill
    Mar 9, 2017 at 13:29

2 Answers 2


Keep for questions about the geographical area, for the author himself, and a new for his works as a whole. Also, possibly a new tag.

This would mean all questions tagged or would also get the tag.

How would this work?

  • As according to this meta answer that lays some guidelines for 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.

    So should probably be used for questions about J.R.R. Tolkien as a person, or things that aren't specific to a specific work of his.

  • Jason says in his answer:


    Q. Isn't everything in Tolkien's Legendarium part of Middle-earth?

    A. No: Middle-earth is one small section of the world Tolkien created, Arda. Other regions include Beleriand, north of Middle-earth and the original home of the Elves; Númenor, the land of the Dúnedain; Aman, the undying lands of the Valar and the elves; and the Dark Lands, south of Middle-earth.

    Q. When should I tag something Middle-earth?

    A. Use when you want to ask a question about something general to Middle-earth: a location, a race, or a historical event. You can use it in conjunction with other, more specific tags like or . Do not use it when you want to refer to other parts of Arda, like most of the events of The Silmarillion.

    I think this is probably a good idea. TL;DR: use for questions about the (actually pretty small) location of middle-earth. For example, "How big was middle-earth?". Do note that Beleriand, Númenor, and other locations were not in Middle-earth, but were still in Arda, the name for the whole earth. I'm not sure whether we should make an tag however.

    We may want that tag, and hopefully it would be used on questions such as the middle-earth one, and would go in conjunction with a tag like or (if that doesn't exist already, it should (i.e other location tags like )), but maybe it's unnecessary for that reason. I'd be in favor of creating it now, but possibly not retroactively retagging. That might be it's own meta post though... ("do we want [arda]")

  • As for the legendarium as a whole: Make . This would be used for pretty much everything related to his works, however would only sometimes go with the tag. For example, "Did Tolkien smoke?" would not get that tag, but "Did Tolkien design the Valar to be based on Greek gods?" would. (both of these were off the top of my head, pretty bad questions)

    This one is pretty intuitive, but I think it's probably a good idea. Again, this would go on really any question about Tolkien's works, not just the franchise as a whole (i.e. "how was the lotr movies marketed" would probably get it, but "how tall are hobbits" would also).

  • 3
    Further, questions on stories like Mr Bliss and the Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun wouldn't get the 'tolkien-legendarium' tag. I however disagree with you statement about Beleriand not being in Middle-earth. Middle-earth is the entire continent that we hear story about, from Nevrast to Hildórien. So no, a 'belerieand' tag would be useless, and an 'arda' tag would do the same as a 'tolkien-legendarium' tag except for questions about the timeless halls.
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 2, 2017 at 10:51
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    I haven't seen a reasonable justification for arda yet, so just adding here that I think it's worth leaving out altogether, unless that meta topic you suggest ever comes up on its own (and I don't think it's necessary to force it now)
    – user31178
    Mar 5, 2017 at 2:16

Leave 'em.

As per my stock objection to massive tag updates.

  • As things stand, these tags are pretty harmless and possibly of minor use to anyone with a passing interest in specific elements of Tolkien-related works

  • Mucking around with these tags on a systematic basis will result in the front page being disfigured with worthless edits for (at minimum) several weeks.

  • As usual, I see that that OP has offered no concrete justification to explain why messing around with these tags is of more benefit to the site than simply leaving them in situ.

  • 2
    So ... what exactly is your proposal on how Tolkien tags should be used in the future? Since the current usage is highly inconsistent, are you suggesting that the OP of a new Tolkien question should simply toss a coin to decide whether to tag it tolkien, middle-earth, both, neither, a new tolkien-legendarium tag, or something else entirely?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 1, 2017 at 14:51
  • @Randal'Thor - I have no objection to codifying their onward usage. I don't think we should back-track through hundreds of posts and retag them (for no discernible benefit).
    – Valorum
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:21
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    Well, this question is about codifying their onward usage, all the way from the title ("the way forward") to the final paragraph ("If nothing else, we can make sure new questions will be tagged consistently from now on"). Honestly, I'm struggling to see how this answer addresses the question at all.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:25
  • @Randal'Thor - "the hundreds of existing Tolkien questions can then be retagged at our leisure, bit by bit over months or years." - That's the bit that I object to. That this question will provide a justification for that action.
    – Valorum
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:26
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    "can be". If there's strong community backlash against doing so, then by all means we can only use the new system for new questions and let the old ones keep the inconsistent system. But it seems like the community as a whole (or at least those who care enough to vote on meta) is in favour of a consistent tagging system. The "bit by bit" is a compromise between those who want to fix the tagging system and those (like you) who want to preserve the front page; by doing tag edits slowly and gradually, we can achieve both these goals.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:31
  • @Randal'Thor - This seems like the classic justification for "scope creep". Pointing at this post to allow the disfigurement of the front pages for weeks at a time.
    – Valorum
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:34
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    The front page is not some holy sanctum of quality content that must remain unperturbed. By my estimates it's maybe half new questions/answers, and at any time a user could go in and answer a slew of Tolkien questions rendering the front page argument useless. Furthermore, in the near future, the new navigation menu will be rolled out allowing for a more robust, customizable display of the front page also rendering many of the arguments about improving our site too much moot. We should be thinking about the quality of our content as as a whole, the future, not a single page.
    – user31178
    Mar 5, 2017 at 2:05

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