It seems unnecessary to create a second tag for Harry Potter questions which include Voldemort. If we are going to do that then where are the Gandalf, Aragorn, Peter Wiggin, R2D2, and Crookshanks tags?

I think tags should be the franchise, and not specific characters.

It also seems like the voldemort tag randomly sprung up overnight and was immediately added to 30 odd questions.


There are 87 questions relating to Picard, but he doesn't have a tag. On the other hand Q has a tag, and only 10 questions.

There is a Wolverine tag, but no Cyclops (or other X-Men).

There is a single She-Hulk tag that someone added to a BrettWhite question.

What are the criteria for character specific tags?

Is a Picard specific tag going to return significantly different results from just putting Picard in the search box?

  • 3
    See Star-Wars character tags for the general criteria. I'm not closing this question as a duplicate so that we can discuss the specific case of Voldemort here.
    – user56
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 22:38
  • 3
    He who must not be tagged?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 11:33

5 Answers 5


Generally speaking, we suffer from having too specific tags already.

A tag for a character is only warranted if there are a lot of questions about that particular universe (HP and ST do qualify), and a significant fraction of these questions are specifically about that character. If the tag is used on every question that mentions the character, that defeats the purpose.

We should be very cautious before creating a tag that's more specific than a work or universe. Do you think anyone will subscribe that tag or ignore it? If not, there shouldn't be a tag.

Note that there aren't 87 questions about Picard, there are 40 questions that mention Picard (18 where Picard is in the title) and 47 more questions with at least one answer mentioning Picard.

A name like Q is a bit special, it's hard to search for. But would be a terrible tag, it's far too ambiguous; would be the name to choose, if the tag is warranted.

  • 2
    q would be a terrible tag? Or it is a terrible tag? Because it already exists. Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 16:40
  • @JackBNimble Oh, it does? Ok, I've made q a synonym for star-trek-q, which used to exist (it even has a tag wiki excerpt). Not sure if q should be removed or kept as a synonym.
    – user56
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 21:31
  • Q is different than Picard. Q is an entire race. Q represents the show dabbling with the concept of omnipotence, and therefore seems to be more worthy than a character like Picard to be treated like a separate topic. As Gilles mentioned, Q (and Data) may be names that generate a significant number of false positives when searched for. By that same logic, X-Men names like Cyclops and Wolverine and Storm (and maybe "Professor X", if the words are split and not treated as a unified unit) could too. Not "Sci-Fi"-specific issue: in video games, Orchid from Killer Instinct, Ken of SF2.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 19:57

So, I just found out that y'all have some rule about tagging being reserved for "major characters".

I found out about it because almost four years later people are still arguing about it.

If it takes an acrimonious discussion for every tag to establish whether or not it's appropriate, the test you're using is broken. You're letting the perfect become the enemy of the good... Find a simpler test, one that folks can apply in common cases (release of a new book / movie) without having to tear each others' throats out here on meta.

Something like,

If at least 10 questions have been asked regarding a character, create a tag for that character and add it to those questions.

Yeah, you'll probably end up with a few tags that aren't often used. The world won't end because of it.

  • 5
    "We had a test that everyone agreed on, except when they didn't". The two easiest rules are, "no character tags" and "all character tags". If you can't live with either one of those, then pick the next simplest rule, don't pick something that demands yearly cleanups in order to be functional. (Mike deleted the comment this replies to, but I'm leaving this response here because at least two people agreed with his sentiment and I think it's important to note that agreement in a vacuum doesn't help when folks can't apply a test consistently in practice).
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 19:30
  • 2
    Though I consider myself an organized person (in a different community, I use their tagging system as an illustrative 'logic tree' of sorts - main category, sub-category, specifics - which would kind of translate to using character names as tags in a place like SF), seeing SOME questions tagged with characters and other questions NOT honestly kind of confuses me because then to me, the 'logic' doesn't follow or flow and I'm left wondering, "Do I tag or do I not tag and why or why not? Is there any logic to the tagging system?"
    – Aith
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 11:04
  • 1
    @MikeEdenfield - I'm not sure I know of anyone who says "This character has a name, thus should have a tag". If you meant myself, I most certainly do not hold that view, and would be perfectly happy with Shog's proposed quoted rule (down to "10 questions" threshold). Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 15:40
  • @MikeEdenfield - My only caveat is that I strongly wish it to extend it to characters who don't have 10 questions yet but who a reasonable subject expert can evaluate as having 10 questions in the near future on. Obviously, the latter should have objective evaluation, e.g. a distinct Meta question on that specific tag. Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 15:43
  • 4
    Tags are a utilitarian form of organization, @Aith; they're messy by design. We have some rules in place to help avoid complete chaos, but utility should always take precedence over organizational ideals that can't easily be achieved in practice. This is my problem with the status quo: folks are apparently wasting more time arguing about which tags are unnecessary than they are on adding those which are useful.
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 20:07
  • 1
    Keep it simple, @DVK: I'll wager a reasonable majority of people here can count to ten, and it takes little work to retag ten questions in a sitting. 5 would also be a reasonable choice, for the benefit of one-handed taggers. In all seriousness, the actual number is not particularly important, as long as folks can agree on it.
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 20:08
  • @Shog9 - thank you for your explanation and thoughts. I'm finding myself of the "tag all or tag none" (tag none would definitely be cleaner) mentality just to keep it all simple and 'fair' and stop arguments re: so-and-so has a tag but not so-and-so before they even start. I'm thinking back to some fairly notable tag-related arguments that have gotten out of hand.
    – Aith
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 0:58
  • 1
    Most of the arguments I see over tags boil down to someone being too precious about them, @Aith: either thinking that a tag has no meaning because it isn't obvious to them, or thinking that a tag means something other than what it's actually being used for. A folksonomy is only useful if the meaning of a tag emerges based on how it's used; you can't assign a meaning other than what emerges naturally... and if none emerges, you can't force it to. As with language itself, you have to be willing to examine how people use it to understand what they're saying.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 1:05
  • Should we start a new meta asking for new, simple, objective criteria? This post has received a lot of votes, so I'm wondering where to take it from here.
    – user31178
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 16:40
  • 1
    If you're serious about seeing it through, go for it @CreationEdge. Just don't let it get bogged down in details; whatever y'all come up with, it has to be something that can be applied by a moderately experienced member of the site without discussion in the common case. Keep in mind that the single most popular non-meta tag on the site is both the name of a series and the main character in that series, but not the name of any book in that series - so anyone arguing for the death of character tags is being a bit silly.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 16:55

There is a Voldemort tag because . . . I created it when I was brand new to the site. I'm happy to have it replaced or removed or recategorized, and I apologize if it threw off the system. :)

So there you have it!

  • 2
    I don't think it's a bad thing; there are enough questions that are specifically about him that I think he merits his own tag. And he is not blackmailing me into saying that. Nope. Really.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 22:13
  • @KeithHWeston -- Personally, I like intricate use of tags, but I'm OCD when it comes to organising. The more available tags, the better, but by that I don't need a tag for, say, "Rescue Mission: Ministry of Magic" or "Mandrakes: Potentially Lethal Cries." All good things within reason. I think if a character's major, then a tag would be appropriate. And even then, I don't think it would hurt to have tags that say "Gryffindor", "Ravenclaw", "Hufflepuff," or "Slytherin" if one is talking about a lesser known character, ala Susan Bones or Pansy Parkinson. :) Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 5:19
  • Actually, I remembered incorrectly. I did not create the "Voldemort" tag. Rather, I created the "Horcruxes" tag, which gets a fair bit of use. Just thought I'd clarify. Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 3:30

If you go by Atwood's criteria on a linked Q, Voldemort is an OK tag. It would work (not great, but well enough) if it was a sole tag. Having said that, there seems to be a contradiction. There is a reason for haviing space for 5 tagsā€¦ Saying "character tag should not exist" even if that tag has 30+ questions about that specific character is IMHO wrong. That tag doesn't hurt anyone, and helps narrow down questions.

IMPORTANT benefit of such a tag: I and other people frequently use it in liu of general search, because there are far more questions that have the word "Voldemort" in the question or an answer, than questions about Voldemort.

  • For those not aware (since some people mentioned to me they were not before):

    You can search by a tag (not by word) if you surround the tag name in square brackets like this:


  • 1
    A question tagged voldemort but not harry-potter wouldn't make much sense. But Voldemort is an important character that raises a lot of questions, so I think that's one of the few exceptions where a character tag is warranted.
    – user56
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 21:32
  • @Gilles - so, you agree that important character (or one with many questions) warrants a tag? That wasn't clear from your answer. If you agree, my answer doesn't need to exist :) Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 22:20
  • I haven't had time to review the uses of the voldemort tag, and won't have time any time soon. I know you're active around HP, and if you think that's an ok tag, I'm willing to agree. We can always make voldemort a synonym of harry-potter if we decide to get rid of it.
    – user56
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 22:29
  • @Gilles - I'm a bit of a biased observer, not because of my HP activity but because I'm very OCD (in the geeky sense, not clinical one). I like nuanced detailed classification. So my opinion (that the tag is good) should be adjusted for that bias. We should ask someone else (Slytherincess) for a second opinion, now that she was on the site long enough to get the idea of what works, what doesn't Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 0:24
  • 1
    @Gilles - I'm probably not a good person to turn to for a second opinion on the Voldemort tag actually, because I am also geekily hyper-organized and would happily accept all the tags, like confetti falling from the sky, LOL! Also, well, I created the tag :/ Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 7:22

It's an administrative question, really, so I'll defer to the acutal admins here.. But IMHO, I don't know that it's really a bad thing. It's a sub-set of Harry Potter, true, but it allows you to more accurately narrow down questions you want to look at / search by / etc. If there were lots of Gandalf specific questions, I'd say it was wizard time for a Gandalf tag. (Pardon the pun / obscure reference.)

In general, I'm not adverse to specific sub-tags when they get used; creating a Pansy Parkinson one, and a Madam Hooch tag might be a bit much... Unless they start getting questions that really are specific to them, and not the HP franchise in general.

  • For those who are wondering.. Wizard is also old British slang for 'excellent', 'wonderful' and the like. I mostly know it from Mannie in 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.'
    – K-H-W
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 22:11
  • I would support a Pansy Parkinson tag. Just sayin' ;) ;) ;) Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 5:12

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .