Tonight, we discussed in chat how some story-identification questions might use a tag to point out that the story tackled was originally read/watched/heard/whatever online. The discussion starts here.

The thing is, more and more content is likely to be encountered digitally nowadays.


"Online" content includes:

  • "actual" digitalizations (such as the ebook versions of A Song of Ice and Fire, The Lord of the Rings, you name it);
  • fanfiction, as in related to an existing universe;
  • original content, may it be full-fletched books, podcasts, amateur videos, but also '"single" posts, the point being that they are standalone work, supposedly unrelated to a previous work.

Let's leave fanfiction aside, since there is already a tag for that. We're left with the actual digitalizations, and the original content. Before we get to the potential distinction between the two, figures time! As of today, we have:

All questions above are currently tagged with whatever seemed relevant at that time, may it be , , or no other "media tag" at all. We can debate for hours on whether an online post developing a story (see this question for instance) is indeed a short story, but the media itself would be the Web.


With regards to what has been said in chat, and what will be said in the discussion comments, should we have a new tag for "I read that online" story-id/image-id/etc questions? When and how would we use it?

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    @Valorum Your comments here have been flagged and removed. You're welcome to your opinion, but express it without belittling/mocking the efforts of others, or not at all. – Rand al'Thor Sep 6 '18 at 10:35

There's a strong reason to have such a tag for questions, considering how we actually use tags.

When asking *-identification questions, and certain other types of questions by creators with limited works, we use media tags to specify where the content came from.

Here's some similar tags we have:

So what are we lacking, considering our modern age? Works that are created for the purpose of being consumed via the Internet, and not published in a physical form. There's a long list of works that would fit under this:

  • Blogs, like Worldbuilding.SE's Universe Factory that publish SF&F works, or websites where the author posts pieces of the story in a serial manner (so it is not necessarily a short story, nor even finished work. Similar to , except print only.
  • Story posting websites such as FanFiction.net
    • already exists, and so this is a bad example, would not be used in place of better-suited tags, nor on top of them in a hierarchical manner
  • Places like Theoryland which allow users to post articles or essays that may not be stories, but may also be on topic
  • Privately run websites such as author Brandon Sanderson's where original content might be published,
  • E-books published without physical counterparts, which is very common for new authors
    • A book is a book, a short story is a short story. After consideration, I struggle to think of any e-book I've read that doesn't clearly fit into the standard classifications.
  • All manner of videos, such as the short "Dust" by EmberLab
    • After discussion, I feel that is much better suited for items that don't fit the standard idea of TV show or movie, consistent with items posted on YouTube but possibly animated shorts (similar to those seen at the start of Pixar films). Of course, that tag should only be created if we have questions it applies to.
  • SF&F podcasts, of which there are many
  • Again, after discussion, I believe better fits this. Of course, that tag should only be created if we have questions it applies to.

satisfies the need for a new tag for certain types of content, without having to keep up new tags for every different format such as and , which are terms that are similarly nebulous and overlapping.

Just for clarity, the name "Web Original" is a pretty common term, used by content publishers as well as other websites that categorize media, such as TV Tropes. I've received some feedback that suggests people are simply not aware that it's a pre-existing term, not one that has been made up for the tag.

  • This argument seems like a step toward Fantasy and Science fiction tags. We don't need to endlessly create meaningless higher hierarchies. – Valorum Sep 6 '18 at 0:35
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    @Valorum That's a pretty odd interpretation, because we have a specific use case for these media tags, for Story Identification, and a very clear structure and way we use add-on tags for ID questions. That's just how it is. And, by the way, we have tags science-fiction-genre and fantasy-genre already. – user31178 Sep 6 '18 at 0:43
  • This isn't about creating hierarchies, it's about properly classifying works by their type when doing identification questions. The way we've always done it, and have improved many a time. – user31178 Sep 6 '18 at 0:43
  • Creating overly broad tags is the first step along a really dumb slippery slope – Valorum Sep 6 '18 at 0:46
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    @Valorum You did read that we have "comics" and "books" and "tv", right? And tags like "magic"? This isn't a slippery slope, it's par for the course. Forgive me if I feel you're being contrary for the sake of being contrary, and not expressing valid concerns, considering your often, vocal dislike of any tag-related improvements to the site, and the common opinion of "leave it alone". – user31178 Sep 6 '18 at 0:51
  • "TV" is pretty damn broad, but at least it's all one medium. "Web-original"could mean pretty much anything from a major Amazon TV release down to some crappy fan-porno – Valorum Sep 6 '18 at 0:55
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    @Valorum 150+ countries, some of them having 70+ channels ranging from "National news, trusted stuff" to "local channel, biggest hit was the report on local pear species' day" (and potentially crappy fan porno, didn't go to check) don't seem less broad than the internet if we want to look at it this way... – Jenayah Sep 6 '18 at 1:03
  • It needs to refer to "pretty much anything" that's relevant, Internet-only content, because the main purpose is classifying the works based on their origin, just like with books and movies. You can't just search for questions about a YouTube videos, because there's 700+ questions where people just happen to mention YouTube. And, BTW, Amazon TV releases are something that should go under the TV tag. – user31178 Sep 6 '18 at 1:15
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    We could have a number of individual tags, like "podcasts" and "zines" and "web-articles" and "interactive-story" and "internet-videos" and "video-shorts", but there's still content out there that doesn't really fit any of those genres. (For example, I've been to websites that tell stories, but you've got to hunt around the website, solving puzzles, to get the next bits of story mixed-media. Not really a video game, not just animation) That suggestion seems like something that deserves its own answer and side-discussion, instead of continuing the train here. – user31178 Sep 6 '18 at 1:21
  • @Jenayah - Sure, but until extremely recently TV was consumed in much the same way. – Valorum Sep 6 '18 at 14:06
  • @Valorum I've made some substantial updates – user31178 Sep 6 '18 at 14:11
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    FWIW, on TV Tropes, the current tide is that online literature is just that, with most online serials getting moved to Literature even if it was originally tagged Web Original, e.g. the Whateley Universe.. – FuzzyBoots Sep 6 '18 at 20:26

This proposed tag seems to serve no useful purpose other than to try to lump dissimilar tags under one roof.

In short, the concept of 'original work produced for sole consumption online' is so fantastically wide that it encompasses everything from online comics, fanfiction, original erotica, fan-art, original artistry, fan-audio commentaries and a million more items besides. These properties are so completely and utterly disparate that attempting to tag them together (as if they're all basically the same thing) can't possibly help our users.

We already have a wealth of useful tags for the likes of and that seem worthwhile and sensible. Creating an additional hierarchy to sit above these is a step too far in the wrong direction.

That all being said, I can see some value in creating an to help identifying questions, as long as the tag is used exclusively in conjunction with the Story-ID tag and not as an overarching tag to shoehorn all online-created works into.

  • Ah, we might have misunderstood each other. The goal isn't to override webcomics or fanfiction, just to add a relevant media tag for when there's no such thing - first case coming to mind is the above question about the online post with superpowers pills. – Jenayah Sep 6 '18 at 0:17
  • @Jenayah - Either way it's still far too broad. – Valorum Sep 6 '18 at 0:37
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    Ok, then let's admit it's too broad. Do we still not want to mark the web-based stuff as it is? While we're in 2018? :/ To further the pills post above, any suggestions for this one? Or is a random web user's post on the same short-stories level than Bradbury? – Jenayah Sep 6 '18 at 0:46
  • @Jenayah - Sure. Why not? There's no real difference in format – Valorum Sep 6 '18 at 0:47
  • Not the same media (just because they use the same alphabet, don't mean printed and online are the same); no real difference in format... One was published, so potentially reviewed, etc; the other is just whatever guy wants to write a one-liner about Man-Man and call it a thing :^) kind of different indeed... – Jenayah Sep 6 '18 at 0:53
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    @Jenayah But...it's not a medium, it's a way of publication. A short story published on the web is still a short story. And, forgive the non-SF&F example, House of Cards, originally produced by and for an internet service, ran on "normal" TV here. Same with any short story that gets lumped into a tangible book some day. If the goal is to tag things where neither short-story nor any other existing media tag applies, then maybe calling it something like essay, article, interview... might be preferable over binding it to the way of distribution, and be more useful at that too. – TARS Sep 6 '18 at 8:11
  • The primary purpose of the the web-original tag is for *-Identification questions. online-fiction is essentially nothing more than a synonym. I'm not sure how what you're suggesting here is effectively any different than what's been proposed already. – user31178 Sep 6 '18 at 13:52

For original content

Let's name our baby

As pointed out by b_jonas in chat, TvTropes calls those "web-original stories". Five people, including the self-declared "Head Tag Nerd", seemed to back up the idea of the brand-new tag, suggesting the wiki excerpt:

For questions about works originally published on the Internet, such as stories from personal websites, web magazines, podcasts, animations or videos. For webcomics, use

To which I'd add For fanfiction, use [tag:fan-fiction], as well as something along the lines of Do not use the tag for specific works; use a work tag instead, the same way we don't tag each question with for instance.

Aw, now that we've named it we can't abandon it. Can it be useful, though?

When is a tag needed? Let's look at the four points detailed in main Meta.

  • Does it describe the contents of the questions to which it is applied? and is it unambiguous?

    Check. We're talking here, so it's always good to narrow the scope. I'm a big fan of Valorum's most awesome short story1. However, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't find it on ISFDb - scope narrowed.

  • Is the concept described even on-topic for the site?

    No, it is not. But it doesn't have to be, it's a media tag. We have a tag and not every movie is SFF. So I just think this bullet point is not relevant due to the nature of SFF.SE. (it's more relevant for SO for instance - see the example in the main meta post above)

  • Does the tag add any meaningful information to the post?

    Check. Redundant with point 1, though: the meaningful info added is the narrowing of the scope, potential sites to search on, word combinations, Google-Fu tricks, etc.

    Apart from story-ID, I could imagine questions about the first SFF book published online or something.

  • Does it mean the same thing in all common contexts?

    Check. It's content that was originally published on the Web. As far as I'm concerned, I don't see anything ambiguous with that, but of course all feedback is welcome.

And the unofficial one: are there experts on works? Those would be people who are interested in what other people post online, about various topics, or even write/draw/film it themselves - you've made it to the Meta of a Q/A site about worlds that don't exist, and you're asking me if there are people who fit the above description? :^)


We already have several tags related to online works. It would seem consistent to have a "mother tag".

  • as said in the question, we have a tag. No need to prove that most fanfiction is located online;
  • we have a tag, which is obviously also encountered online;
  • we have a tag. SCP is entirely written online.
  • we have an tag, which is pretty murky but rather deals with databases of summaries, archives, etc. Distinct from what we're talking about, I reckon.

Authors aren't only Bob McGee. There are well-known authors of printed books who also released web-original content - Andy Weir, for instance.

For digitalizations

It happens! Sometimes, the stuff you've read/watched online was originally a full-fledged printed book/movie, but you don't really know for sure - it was ages ago, on your Kindle.

If you know it was a digitalization, no need to use . Use the usual, relevant , or whatever. Mention that you did read it online, of course.

If you're rather confident it could have been an original work, sure, go ahead and use , as well as another relevant media tag, if there is one (, ...). You might be wrong. It happens. We've had story-ids that turned out to be games, which were actually TV shows - the story-ID question is how you remember something you'e partially forgotten. It's not a big deal if you were wrong on one point.

1 Originally posted here. Can't wait for the sequel!

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    I don't know if there are experts on web-original fiction. However, there certainly are people with no expertise on, or interest in, any of that stuff, and a tag would make it easier for those people to ignore some questions they are not interested in. – user14111 Sep 6 '18 at 7:57
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    Whilst I like the idea of a tag for classifying story id questions into an area saying "I read this online" I really dislike the proposed usage. It is just too broad and covers too many areas to be of much use. For example, we don't have physical-original or network-original tags. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 6 '18 at 8:19

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