American Gods is a story which was first told in book form and is currently being adapted for television. In line with our usual practice for tagging stories which have been adapted in multiple media, I've been using the existing tag for all questions about American Gods, with an additional tag or if the question happens to be specific to one medium or the other.

However, twice now people have created an tag and retagged questions specific to the TV series. Rather than starting an edit war by rolling back these edits again, I'm taking the issue to meta so that we can (hopefully) get a clear conclusion on what to do.

How should we tag questions about American Gods? In particular:

  1. questions about the story, not specific to either book or TV show;
  2. questions specifically about the book;
  3. questions specifically about the TV show?
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    Right before I could make a meta about the thing in general.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 6:43
  • Then are you proposing purging all media based existing tags or just this one? Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


Media tags in general

Media tags, and their value and usage patterns, have been debated on this site ever since it was founded. From Should we do away with the media tags (books, novel, TV, movies, etc.)? back in February 2011, to the very unpopular suggestion during the 2015-16 tag cleanup to remove them from all non-story-ID questions, to How do we actually use tags? and CreationEdge's excellent summary of many of the details of our tagging system. In one of his answers, he attempted to sum up our current practice on how media tags such as and are being used on this site:

I found Media and Genre tags to have some interesting things going on with them. They're rarely used alone, and tend to be attaching to some type of Probing tag. The most common example being [...] The percent of Media and Genre tagged questions that include is 60.5%.

Although seems to be an exception to the Probing connection, a cursory look at those questions shows that the tag is often used to specify that a question is only about the comic-book version of events or characters, instead of the entire franchise which may include movies and TV shows. This is how Media tags are used in general: they are almost never used alone, and make the most sense when used in conjuction with other tags to narrow scope.

SQB also wrote about this in even more detail at Tag Wars: cleaning up redundant media tags:

Media tags in action

We haven't reached a decision yet about what to do with the media tags. There are two main uses for them:

  1. On to specify what the OP is looking for (example: "I'm looking for a book I read as a kid")
  2. To differentiate between works released in different media (ie: "I'm looking for an answer from the Harry Potter movies specifically")

I'm not proposing to touch any of these uses. However, I found there is a third and a fourth use that are both unnecessary and often redundant.

Missing work tags

  1. Questions about specific works that do not have a tag. [...] I propose giving all questions like this their proper work and/or author tags.

Department of redundancy department

  1. Questions where the media tag is simply redundant, because it's used together with specific tags for the work, author, series, franchise and so on, without falling under use 2 (differentiating between different media for the same work or franchise).

This is the best summary I've been able to find on how we actually use media tags. Uses 3 and 4 have been slowly cleaned up; questions about a specific work should always have the tag for that work, and there's no point in using media tags with stories like or which are only told in one medium anyway. Uses 1 and 2 remain as the main/only ways that media tags are/should be used.

Other cases for comparison

Besides , many of our other tags are for stories which have been told in more than one medium, and we don't usually use different tags for these different adaptations.

A glaring exception to this general principle is the and tags. There is no one overarching tag for this universe, and the book and TV versions have two separate tags. This approach has led to multiple disadvantages in practice:

  • Searchability: you need a more complicated search to find a list of questions relevant to this story/world, because there's no one tag to cover them all.
  • Division of expertise: many people answer both - obviously, being knowledgeable about one likely makes you knowledgeable about the other too - but their scores in the respective tags don't reflect this. I bet we would've had some gold tag badgers by now if there was one tag to cover the whole thing.
  • Unclarity in questions: many people don't even know the difference between the two, e.g. using "Game of Thrones" to refer to the books, and so tagging isn't even a reliable way to tell which medium the OP is asking about. Often a question bearing one tag will actually be seeking answers from the other, or from both. This necessitates a lot of tag edits and requests for clarification in comments.

The conclusion

We should stick to the current system: using a single universe/franchise tag to cover both book and TV series, with the option of using medium tags to clarify which one is being asked about if that's really necessary.

Most questions about American Gods will likely be general questions which could apply equally well to the book or the TV series. If we had separate tags for the two, would we need to tag all of these questions with both? What if someone only cares about the book but their question is also relevant to the TV show? What if someone's only seen the TV show but their question is answered in the book? What about questions asked before the TV show existed - should they retroactively be tagged with the other tag if it's relevant? Separate tags would just lead to confusion.

Also, people who know a lot about one of the two adaptations of the story are likely to know a lot about both. Let's make it easy for them to find questions which they can answer or which interest them.

American Gods is a single franchise, which deserves its own tag. It makes no sense to use separate tags for separate versions of the same story.

  • 1
    The hobbit have three film tags to narrow them down, so that claim is wrong and should be fixed. The Lord of the Rings is the same. The Dark Tower has 0 questions, Stardust has 6_TPB_ has 14, neverwhere has 3, THHGTTG has 2 questions tagged books, one is closed where the tags haven't been fixed and the other is about how many books there were, I couldn't find any other media tag they'd been tagged with. These seem like pretty poor examples.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 6:51
  • 1
    That's not what we did for The Expanse series, though. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 7:02
  • 1
    How we came to that conclusion O.o sound nothing like we usualy do here Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 7:47
  • 1
    @Edlothiad The point here is less about using franchise tags together with media tags (which we don't always do consistently), more about not using different tags for different versions of the same story. Do you really want to have separate tags for hitchhikers-guide-books, hitchhikers-guide-radio, hitchhikers-guide-tv, hitchhikers-guide-movie? If a question is relevant to the franchise as a whole, you'd already be using 4 of the 5 available tags - and searchability would be hell. You're right about The Hobbit; will fix that. And dark-tower has 59 questions (not "the", my bad).
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 10:13
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor In my opinion, it all depends on the level of adaptation. We have examples where we've deemed the adaptation so close we don't need a new tag (Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter) the amount of questions that exist with the media tags do not represent a trend, they are an anomaly. Similarly for dark-tower none of the movie questions have been tagged movies. The Hobbit has this discussed on meta without strong support and the movie tag names were instead created. While the above suggestion is subjective, it's the way things have been done.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 10:18
  • 1
    In the cases where the works are very similar (LotR, HP, DT etc) we've not even bothered with media tags at a consistent level. And for some (e.g. It) we've created separate movie tags.While it may make sense to keep American Gods in this case with the media tags, saying "This is how it's done" is a gross misrepresentation.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 10:19
  • 1
    I have a feeling we had a meta specifically on the ASoIaF/GoT because I remember going through and retagging question that were specifically requesting one canon or the other. If we can think of a good universe title for that. I'd be all for it because there would quite a few gold badge holders! Unlike Harry Potter, LotR, and some other franchises, the GRRM world does not have one.
    – Skooba
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 22:03
  • Ah I found it! scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4898/…
    – Skooba
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 22:05

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