We have a tag that is currently on 48 questions. To wit:

Offspring that have not yet fully matured or reached the designated stage of adulthood.

Of these, fully 43 are , a use that seems to be made unnecessary by the more widely used . The other five are all over the map, with no consistent theme. Certainly most are not specifically about children.

On the other hand, how would we use this tag if it were employed more consistently? Using it on any question about child characters would not be terribly helpful, so should it be questions about children as a group? The treatment of child characters compared to adults? Something else?

Do we need this tag? If so, how should it be used?

  • 18
    This might be the only case where I can advocate burning children without people giving me funny looks. May 15, 2017 at 21:41
  • 15
    Burn baby burn!
    – Edlothiad
    May 15, 2017 at 21:50
  • 2
    I would have thought the children tag was for stories where children or childhood is a major theme, e.g., Bradbury's "Zero Hour" or Kuttner & Moore's "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" or Bixby's "It's a Good Life" or Shiras's "In Hiding". Silly of me, I know. If your point is that tags are useless, why not get rid of them all at once instead of piecemeal? Or if you just want to get rid of the most useless tags, I know a good place to start. It's enough we have a star-trek tag; we don't need tags for individual characters like spock or princess-leia.
    – user14111
    May 16, 2017 at 3:59
  • 1
    @user14111 - Well, if you think that we should have a children tag (and use it the way you mentioned), it’s worth making an answer. That’s not at all how people are currently using it, so it could use some clarification. As you say, I am only trying to get rid of the “most useless” tags. I don’t see the need for most character tags, but those are separate issues.
    – Adamant
    May 16, 2017 at 4:17
  • That's not how people are currently using it? I only looked at the first few: (1) Little girl alone on a generation ship with a robot, (2) Girl excited to meet "aliens" who are us, (3) "Star Bright" about a super intelligent child, (4) Do [baby] Kryptonians wear diapers, [5] Immortal children. But I'm sure you people have studied the matter more thoroughly and more scientifically, so I'll sit down and shut up.
    – user14111
    May 16, 2017 at 5:50
  • 2
    @user14111 - There’s little indication that most (including those) are books where children or childhood are a major theme, though. Just books that feature children. There’s a difference, just as “adulthood” is not a theme in most novels featuring adults. Or to give another example, the nature of being female is a major theme in The Left Hand of Darkness, or Suffragette, whereas Star Wars Episode VII and Twilight just happen to have female leads. Certainly, if that’s how we want to use the tag, the wiki needs a rewrite at the least.
    – Adamant
    May 16, 2017 at 5:52
  • @user14111 This is a discussion, not a declaration of axing. I don't think the sardonic replies are necessary. As one of the most active supporters of tags I would say you have enough content to post an answer to this discussion, but it'd be more productive and engaging with less bite. I personally see children as a bad tag name for the usage described, but for *-identification questions featuring child protagonists? That seems like a clear, useful tag. So perhaps child-protaganists would be the more useful name.
    – user31178
    May 16, 2017 at 7:20
  • 3
    We need an answer for voting purposes. Won’t someone please think of the [children]?
    – Adamant
    May 16, 2017 at 18:02
  • Burn that tag down with nos second thought. May 17, 2017 at 5:57
  • @Cliquey - We need an answer first.
    – Adamant
    May 17, 2017 at 5:57
  • 1
    Yes, we need children for the survival of human race.
    – user931
    May 18, 2017 at 6:23

2 Answers 2



This tag should be deleted.

  • We don’t really need it to label questions about children’s books. We have the tag for most of those instances, which is used on far more questions.

  • While there could be a potential usage case for questions about the nature of childhood in fiction, or the treatment or prevalence of children as protagonists, much as is used, that’s not how it’s currently being used. It’s just being placed inconsistently on questions that feature children. In addition, I have seen very few questions about childhood as a concept, rather than just characters who happen to be children (that is to say, almost none).

  • We don’t really need to label questions about children vs. those about childrens books, any more than we need to label questions about adults or . Though the latter tag is sometimes used in such a manner (like ) the vast majority of questions about female characters, like the vast majority of questions about child characters, don’t need a specific tag.

  • 1
    "Have seen very few" isn't a case for getting rid of a tag. We have an enormous amount of specific work tags where it's only used once so far, it doesn't mean we get rid of the tag. If needing to have questions about childhood as a concept is necessary now, then I could probably post a few for you, as for one of my college English classes I had to evaluate the evolving role of children in the sff/horror films, and could easily pull questions out of that.
    – user31178
    May 17, 2017 at 19:50
  • @CreationEdge The fact that a particular tag is consistently being used badly at the moment can be a case for getting rid of it though. It shows that people would be likely to continue using it badly in the future. If we have a children tag that's mainly been used for ID questions about children's books, then people won't start using it for questions about childhood instead just because we have a meta post saying so. Changing the name of the tag might be a way to achieve that.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    May 21, 2017 at 17:33
  • @Randal'Thor I address these concerns and others in my question and answer about story ID related tags. If this is removed from story-ID you will do a disservice to those questions, unless someone preserves a list of them so I can add a better tag after
    – user31178
    May 21, 2017 at 17:35
  • @Randal’Thor - The consensus does seem to be to get rid of it at this point.
    – Adamant
    May 27, 2017 at 5:50
  • @Adamant Have you looked at the questions tagged children thoroughly enough to know whether merging the tag into childrens-novel would be appropriate, or shall I just merge it into story-identification after retagging those 5?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    May 27, 2017 at 16:54
  • @Randal’Thor - I think the latter. All but perhaps one of the non-story ID questions don’t really need the childrens-novel tag. Merging it into childrens-novel wouldn’t quite work either: you’d have to edit it out of the questions about movies and so forth.
    – Adamant
    May 28, 2017 at 19:01
  • @Adamant Done .
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    May 29, 2017 at 10:26

seems to be a poorly-defined tag for the purpose it can serve.

There is a clear usage case for when a book contains children as primary protagonists or antagonists or major plot points, especially when coupled with and other ID tags, and . In essence, we should treat as a sub-genre of SFF.

There are some notable works that are not children's novels, but feature children as primary characters throughout all or most of the work:

  • Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials
  • Stephen King's IT
  • John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let the Right One In
  • J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter (if you admit they're Young Adult and not Children's novels)

We can improve the tag by changing the tag wiki excerpts away from a definition of what children are to actual usage guidance. Definitions do not belong in tag wiki excerpts anyway.

Should be used when a character being a child is important to the question, but not just for any question about a character that happens to be a child.

We can rename the tag to: .

Then, we're left with a small handful of questions that need to be changed from to or , or simply be removed.

In general, I believe our first response to tags should primarily be improving them and making them useful, versus simply deleting them. Generally when a tag gets to the point of being used on nearly 50 questions, it means a decent number of people found it useful. When it's brought up on meta, though, the main issue appears to be that it's not applied consistently or defined well enough.

Both of these changes would mimic .

Stories about child characters (that aren't specifically children's novels) or female characters are notable, and are essentially sub-genres in SFF. To that end, as discussed on meta about genres, these examples for the *-character tags follow the same trends and use cases as our other genres, some of which have been long-accepted by the community.

  • Because the tag wiki was already simply a definition, I've already suggested changes to it. If it later gets decided to be done away with, it won't matter, but I think we can make this useful for now.
    – user31178
    May 17, 2017 at 18:32
  • @user14111 Pinging you to see if you have any input.
    – user31178
    May 17, 2017 at 18:58
  • You say “There is a clear usage case for when a book contains children as primary protagonists or antagonists or major plot points.” This doesn’t “mimic female-characters. We don’t use female-characters for story-identification questions about books with female protagonists. In fact: “It should not be used for just any question about a character who happens to be female.”
    – Adamant
    May 17, 2017 at 19:07
  • @Adamant It's different than "happens to be female", because it's notable when a child character is the lead in a story. And we do use female-characters with story-identification the same way, because, again, female protaganists is a notable thing because it's done far less often that teen/adult males. 2/3rds of female-character questions are story-id...
    – user31178
    May 17, 2017 at 19:12
  • And a lot of science-fiction-genre questions were or are story-identification. That’s still not in accordance with the tag guidance, which is clear: It should not be used for just any question about a character who happens to be female. While you are correct that female characters are (unfortunately) underrepresented in science fiction and fantasy, we still have enough questions about them that the tag was wisely not designed to be slapped on any such question.
    – Adamant
    May 17, 2017 at 19:13
  • The original answer about the tag says, describing the sort of questions it should be used on: “All of these are questions that arise from the previously-mentioned cultural baggage. And they point out some of the ways that female characters are a topic worthy of discussion specifically, which means they should have a tag.” It’s pretty clear that these are questions that discuss gender and the role of female characters, not just any old question about a female character. The story ID usage is a misuse. Most IDs about women don’t have it.
    – Adamant
    May 17, 2017 at 19:16
  • @Adamant Right, and it says nothing in there about Bechdel tests or excluding it from story-id. Your example for SFF-genre tags seems to be an issue where those tags need better guidance, because it was meant to exclude categorizing just every work, like tagging harry-potter + fantasy, but please see the recent meta for general support of using genre tags for story-id.
    – user31178
    May 17, 2017 at 19:20
  • Ummmm what? The top answer (which still isn’t highly voted) says: “They’re not to be used to classify a question such as story-identification + science-fiction-genre.”
    – Adamant
    May 17, 2017 at 19:21
  • Do you want to edit your answer there? It seems like you wrote that genre tags should not be used with story-identification (which I quite agree with, despite that being the primary use case for some of the more obscure ones), but that’s not what you’re saying here.
    – Adamant
    May 17, 2017 at 19:24
  • Plus, I’d like to quote your answer in support of mine, but it’s hard to do that when you seem to disagree with it.
    – Adamant
    May 17, 2017 at 19:29
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – user31178
    May 17, 2017 at 19:30

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