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We currently have an tag, with ~80 questions at the moment. It does not have any usage guidance, just this as the tag wiki:

Animals in science fiction and fantasy works have vital roles in many plots, including protagonists, antagonists, plot motivators and wise mentors.

27 of these questions are also tagged . Several of them are about animals in specific franchises, like , , or .

It looks like this tag is being used for questions about any animal is any work of SFF.

But what value does this tag actually give? Why do we have this tag? What should it be used for? Does it actually need to exist in the first place?

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We should get rid of the tag.

The tag serves no actual purpose, is ambiguous what it should be used for, is not used consistently, and does not meet the criteria for a good tag.

  • It's not clear what it means in the first place.

What do we define as "animals"? Does this mean regular, non-SFFnal animals? Does it include centaurs? How does this relate with ?

  • It's not clear what it should be used for.

What type of questions get this tag? Questions about characters that are animals? Questions about animals within a universe? Questions about dog actors?

  • It's not being used consistently (most likely as a result of the above two points).

According to the sidebar on the tag page, out of 93 questions, 37 of them are story-ID. 10 of them are Harry Potter. 8 are Star Wars, 6 are Star Trek, and 6 are . These low numbers show that it's not being used consistently, and infrequently - in the year and two months since this was asked, it's only had another 13 questions with the tag.

  • You can't really be an expert in animals in the context of SFF.

What does it mean to be an expert in ? Since, as I said above, it's not even clear what this covers, and since it is apparently a cross-franchise tag, it's a little hard to be an expert on every animal in SFF works in general. You could be an expert in magical animals, such as mythological animals and their portrayal in SFFna works, but that's covered by (and the more specific tags such as , , etc). You could be a veterinarian, but that's not going to help you to answer questions about post-apocalyptic sentient animal story-ID questions.

  • It doesn't help to filter questions.

It doesn't make much sense as a favorite or ignored tag. Since it's cross-franchise, it's not very useful for someone who doesn't like a topic in a franchise or a franchise as a whole - it's got a whole range of questions covering different franchises and types of questions, none of which are very closely related, and so doesn't help much in filtering tags.

All in all, it seems rather useless to me. I say burn it with fire... dragon style.

  • It's worth noting that there are 5 people currently following the tag. – Rand al'Thor Feb 11 at 15:47
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    @Randal'Thor How does that compare to other tags? – JMac Feb 11 at 20:28
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This tag can be made useful

I want to start off by saying: Just because a tag doesn't belong in a specific universe doesn't make it useless.

Now onto your questions, while I have no idea how the initial tag was decided to be created it was back-added to 15 questions that were asked before the tag was created. As for what it should be used for, we clearly have two possible ways in using this tag, each bringing their own values to the tag.

  • This tag could be used in conjunction with to narrow the scope of stories where animals are the main focus (yes an arbitrary metric).
    • This would be useful for classifying these stories and narrowing their scope, it would make it clear that animals are the focus of the story and may help users searching for the solution.
    • This would be useful for people interested in reading SFF stories where the main focus is animals. Rather than looking for all instances of the word animal in a question body or title.
  • This tag can be used for questions about animals in various SFF universes we have here. This would then be used in conjunction with the relevant franchise tag.
    • Useful for those who consider themselves experts in the fauna of a universe to find questions that may interest them, as well as those asking to make it clear their question is specifically about the fauna.
    • This would be useful for people who may have an interest in learning about the specific fauna of a universe (such as "What was the size/origin/inspiration for the Oliphaunts of the Haradhrim" etc.) or those interested in the different fauna in multiple universes, their similarities, differences and how inspirations may have affected this.

While one may think we have to decide on the usage of the tag as one of these options, I say:

Why not both gif

We've clearly had a reasonably positive agreement (not quite a consensus) to the fact that the clearly breaks tagging conventions, so trying to make it align with the second usage wouldn't make sense. Both usages could easily be made clear and added into the wiki excerpt. A possible excerpt is provided below.

For questions where the primary focus is on animals, be it in a specific universe or for a story-identification when the main focus of the story is about animals. When used with a specific universe please use in conjunction with the specific universe tag. When used to identify a story, use in conjunction with the [story-identification] tag.
Proposed tag wiki

If this seems insufficient there are still 111 of the 460 characters available.

If we decide on a single usage, possible tag wikis could be made from the bullet points above.

  • Notes: 1. Example question isn't great. 2. Looking for additional reading. – Edlothiad Nov 22 '17 at 10:06
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    I was going to write a "nuke the tag" answer, but your answer here gives me pause. Will have to think about this some more. – Rand al'Thor Nov 22 '17 at 11:43
  • @Randal'Thor there is only one option which say it can be useful and getting DVes only so indirectly community is saying to nuke it ;) – Steve Harrington Nov 24 '17 at 13:21
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    @SteveHarrington Or they might think the tag should be kept but not for the reasons given in this post. Hard to tell from the evidence so far. – Rand al'Thor Nov 25 '17 at 1:13
  • @Randal'Thor Would be helpful if they left comments or posts positing other viewpoints though. – Edlothiad Nov 27 '17 at 6:48
  • "Animals" seems a bit too general to be useful in story-id questions. Specific tags for say "dogs" and "cats" would be useful. – user14111 Feb 13 at 22:56

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