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I just noticed that we have an tag. Is this tag really helpful? Depending on your chosen definition, robot may or may not include all types of android. (If you think robots have to be and perhaps even look mechanical, consider that this excludes the robots in R.U.R.)

That “Data objects to being called a robot” is neither here nor there. Or rather, it's there in-universe, but not relevant here: what matters is whether a visitor on SFF.SE would expect Data to be classified as a robot. If Data objects to being tagged a robot, let him state his case in this thread.

Given how wildly definitions differ, I think it is bad for searching to have two separate tags. I'm inclined to make ¹ a synonym of . Any counter-argument?

¹ I just merged to the plural form to be consistent.

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"the way the tag ends up being used is based on the word used by the author, not on the meaning of the word." - Gilles

" We frequently have issues with misuse of tags because people use the meaning of the tag's word(s) instead of an author/community usage." - Keen

I think this right here sums up the problem. How people use tags, particularly new users, is frequently inconsistent. IMO, this means that if there is significant ambiguity to how a tag should be used, then we're probably getting too specific with the tag for it to be useful without excessive maintenance.

What does give us that we would otherwise be lacking? Is it likely that someone would favorite , but not ? Is there potential that lots of people will ignore , but still want to see ?

If we didn't use a distinct tag for Androids, "android" is still a term that is very easy to search on (and which can be combined with the very easily).

I see no reason to have both; I think should be made a synonym of .

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    s/andoid/android/1 – Solemnity Feb 19 '13 at 7:16
  • @Solemnity: check. – bitmask Feb 21 '13 at 19:23
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I'm undecided on the topic, but for the sake of having a pro argument, here goes. Androids are a specific type of robot, meant to mimic humans. This is opposed to just any sort of automata (e.g. robot arms, time traveling robots, intelligent vehicles).

I think that attempting to mimic humans specifically makes androids a worthwhile subject to discuss separate from robots in general. All robots will share various traits, often artificial intelligence, matters of AI rights, etc. But by focusing on trying to encapsulate humanity in an artificial human form, androids explore more specific facets of what it means to be human vs. an artificial being.


Assuming "R.U.R." in the question refers to this, then I'd expect it to be a story tagged since these are clearly robots mimicing the human form. That the work calls them 'robots' doesn't mean we should stick to referring to them as such, when our modern usage has evolved in the past 90 years.

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  • Yes. Robots brings to mind Japanese car-manufacturing apparatuses or low-production Dr. Who villain-races. – Solemnity Feb 18 '13 at 5:23
  • Counter-argument: the way the tag ends up being used is based on the word used by the author, not on the meaning of the word. Would you expect questions about R.U.R to be tagged android? – user56 Feb 18 '13 at 16:47
  • @Gilles I disagree with that. We frequently have issues with misuse of tags because people use the meaning of the tag's word(s) instead of an author/community usage. I've added a section on R.U.R. to the answer as well. – user1027 Feb 18 '13 at 19:01
  • R.U.R. more or less invented (or popularized) the term "robot". It would be outrageous to disregard this and tag it as "android"! It would be like some sort of political correctness in SF :P The actual term the author used does matter. – Andres F. Feb 19 '13 at 1:43
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Mmmm, tough one. Androids are humanoid robots (so Data objecting to being called a robot is similar to a human who doesn't like being called a mammal). Do we really need tags for each subtype of robot? What about "robot that looks like a car", or "assembly line robot", or "just a robotic arm"?

I can see the viewpoint that humanoid robots are the most compelling for science fiction, but still, I'm not convinced we need a specific tag.

I vote: "no, we don't need an android tag".

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  • 'robotIC' vs 'android' should provide a good delimitation. – Solemnity Feb 19 '13 at 7:20

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