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The policy on tagging doesn't seem entirely clear with respect to when a question should have the author tag, when it should have the series/universe/work tag, and when/if it should have both. Since the tags are a useful tool, it seems like we should try to use them consistently.

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I've always understood that you use the ones that apply; for instance, if your question pertains to just , then you use that tag. If your question is on the whole body of J.R.R. Tolkien's work, or on Tolkien himself, then you use , which is far more concise than say, and so on ad infinitum.

In general, when searching for something, you want to avoid having unnecessary data. Otherwise, when you search for questions about , the author, you find questions that have nothing to do with the man, or are only regarding a portion of his work. Adding an author tag to every question dealing with an author's work is a lot of unnecessary data: it effectively destroys the integrity of the author's tag. It may look nicer to us OCD types, but what is conveyed by a question tagged ? It should indicate that the question is not just about , but also about the author of the series. If the question pertained to Meyer herself, such as "How did Stephanie Meyer's Mormon background influence the Twilight Saga?," tagging the question would be appropriate.

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    That makes sense. Except that you left out lesser known works, such as stephanie-meyer's non-Twilight books. – Donald.McLean May 10 '12 at 4:31
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    Except that it seems to be inconsistent with other tags. All of the Star Trek Voyager questions are also tagged Star Trek, even questions that apply only to Voyager. – Donald.McLean May 10 '12 at 15:04
  • Then I'd hazard a guess that they're mis-tagged. I believe someone recently flooded the site with tag edits doing just that, and one of the issues with it was that the tag edits were unnecessary in the first place. – Gabe Willard May 10 '12 at 15:07
  • Wouldn't you use the author name to specify, in the case of the examples above, the novels versus the movie franchise. For questions about the twilight or lord of the rings movies wouldn't you use movie and title, and to mean the books author and title – chcuk May 10 '12 at 20:30
  • @chcuk No, that's what the movie and books tags are for. Also, the author is still applicable to most movie universes. Saying tolkien applies to the LotR books, and not the movies, is a logical leap. – Gabe Willard May 10 '12 at 20:59
  • @GabeWillard I was make a logical leap based on a previous meta conversation on the tags for marvel comics and dc comics – chcuk May 10 '12 at 21:00
  • For comics, it makes more sense, since the individual comic authors have influence on their own stories more than other authors would, and the movies are usually their own universe. So tagging a Spiderman question with spiderman movie and tagging it spiderman stan-lee would refine the scope of the question to either the movie universe Spidey, or the Spidey comics that Stan Lee worked on directly. At least that is what makes sense to me. – Gabe Willard May 10 '12 at 21:10
  • I disagree that tags need to be normalized. Further I disagree that's there's any problem with having "too much" data as represented a tag. Tags are already redundant data. – Mark Beadles May 11 '12 at 16:00
  • If a tag adds no organizational value to the question, it is worthless. Redundancy has nothing to do with it. The problem is tagging a question with wrong data, not redundant data. – Gabe Willard May 11 '12 at 16:06
  • I don't understand. In what is way is tagging something tolkien and lord-of-the-rings "wrong data"? It's completely accurate. – Mark Beadles May 11 '12 at 16:08
  • If the question has nothing to do with tolkien specifically, then someone looking for questions about Tolkien the author, which is what the tag is for, will find questions about his work. It is inaccurate. The tag wiki indicates that it is for questions regarding Tolkien's life, influences, and his influence upon his works. Asking about how Tolkien's influences effected LotR would fall under the tolkien tag. Asking about the Mouth of Sauron without drawing the man Tolkien in to the question would be an inaccurate use of the tag. – Gabe Willard May 11 '12 at 16:12
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I don't see any reason not to tag a question with multiple tags that might overlap but are still helpful and accurate.

Tags are a user convenience to help us search, select, and talk about broad categories of information regarding our questions. In the real world, categories are fuzzy and often overlap. Tags are for users, not for the system.

EDIT 2: Regarding authors, I don't believe that author tags should solely be used for referring to the life or circumstances or such of the author personally. Although they can be so used, an author tag can also be used for works written by that author. Why not?

Otherwise, how do we handle stand-alone novels? What's wrong with for the novel Lucifer's Hammer?

Given this, tagging a question about something in Twilight as is redundant, yes, but it's not a bad kind of redundancy. It's not like we'll run of of tagspace or something. And it just might help someone find a question they otherwise wouldn't have -- which IMO is a good thing.

EDIT: Regarding the "geekspeak" issue as to whether tags should be normalized and whether unnecessary data is a problem, I respectfully submit that is not a problem for the users of the system. Although it may pose a challenge for implementers, from a user's point of view redundancy can often be a helpful thing.

As an example, consider a new user, someone new to SFF, who does not know that Philip K Dick was the source for Bladerunner. Is there then a problem with tagging a question and ? Although the author tag would add no extra value to someone who already knows they overlap, to this new user this is actually useful tagging.

  • You misunderstand the concept I was trying to communicate with normalization. I was not referring to implementation. I was referring to normalization in the sense that if the tag is not applicable to the question being asked, then it is not only superfluous, but it is inaccurate. Tags are supposed to describe the question they tag, not the work the question regards. In your example, if I were to search for questions tagged philip-k-dick, I would find your blade-runner question, which may not have anything to do with Dick as an author. – Gabe Willard May 11 '12 at 16:25
  • @GabeWillard I don't believe I misunderstand. :) I merely disagree. – Mark Beadles May 11 '12 at 16:27
  • For example, see my question above (added) about stand-alone novels. Would it be wrong to tag a question about Dhalgren with samuel-r-delaney? – Mark Beadles May 11 '12 at 16:32
  • If the question has nothing to do with samuel-r-delaney, then it would be an inaccurate description of the content of the question. – Gabe Willard May 11 '12 at 16:34

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