There are features on this site, 'Favorite Tags' and 'Ignore Tags'. That being said, why do some tags, such as and have conditions in their FAQs stating ' It should only be used when it may not be immediately clear that the question is about content produced for television'.

The designers are giving the ability to ignore certain types of questions, via the tag-system; so, why is it accepted to limit that functionality?

I'm aware that I can(now or eventually) submit a change to those tag FAQs, but this is about the reason for the [same] wording and reason in these tags.

And in other site-contexts, tags are usually not discouraged if they represent something that may already be stated(with varying spelling/representation) in the title. Especially for internal site-statistics reasons, nevermind the features.

  • What they said. Also, I presume that the conditions in those descriptions mean to avoid the use of [tv] when asking about a story involving a tv set.
    – Mr Lister
    Feb 20, 2013 at 7:56
  • @MrLister, no love for Max Headroom?
    – Solemnity
    Feb 20, 2013 at 8:05
  • I don't know where that came from, so I don't have an answer.
    – Mr Lister
    Feb 20, 2013 at 8:15
  • Older scifi TV-series [proto-steampunk, kind-of] with a central guy that was represented in a tv set. Also, prominent New Coke statesman- a good reason for selective memory.
    – Solemnity
    Feb 20, 2013 at 8:18
  • I know about Max Headroom, silly, I just don't know why you brought him up.
    – Mr Lister
    Feb 20, 2013 at 8:22
  • This is like the "goes to 11" bit from Spinal Tap.
    – DQdlM
    Feb 21, 2013 at 15:29

2 Answers 2


It seems pretty clear that media tags should not be used in general. Most of the use of the and seem to be in direct violation of that policy.

However, there have been subsequent discussions that show support for some use of those tags, and that may be the source of those qualifiers on the tag wiki excerpts. However, neither of the answers on that Game of Thrones question shows much support, and the vast majority of the questions with the tags in question seem to be using them more as "I saw this one TV", rather than clarification.

A quick look at questions with the tags already shows we're using them rather inconsistently. For example, this question uses , yet explicitly indicates that it is looking for answers outside of the TV shows.

Some serious cleanup work is probably in order.

In addition to the general cleanup of the tag use, I'd suggest that we clarify the existing tag excerpts to read "This tag is used for content originally distributed by television. It should only be used for titles that exist in multiple formats (tv, books, comics, etc.) and the question is ONLY interested in answers that address the TV version."

EDIT: To address your comments:

In worlds outside of SE, tags are used as quick-indicators to bring you to a reference. Rules seem weird particularly here. You do want to invite guys that say, 'I watched a lot of TV, so let me gear down on that rather than be discouraged by the list in general'- hence the 'tag-ignore' features?

That's precisely why media tags should not be used. Assuming that there are people who say "I am only interested in questions and answers that relate to scifi in [select one from tv/movies/books/comics/video games]", then the tags simply won't allow them to do that.

The first issue is simply that it isn't practical to tag every question with all appropriate media tags. As Iszi explains quite well, there is a five tag limit to questions, and even if there weren't, too many tags would become counter-productive. Imagine a question on K-9, the robotic companion from Doctor Who, where I want to know where/if/how he sleeps: the question could be tagged (obvious), (he lived in the Tardis for quite some time), , , , , (the proposed spin-off series), and (an actual spin-off series in which K-9 was a regular character). That's just too many.

The other issue, which is more directly relevant to your question, is that what you are asking for (enforcing media tag usage so that people could use favorites/ignore to filter based upon their preferred media) simply wouldn't work.

Setting aside that favorite/ignore don't actually filter (they color-code questions), the fact that so many of the topics here span multiple media makes filtering to only questions that relate to a specific medium impossible.

Let's take an actual question as an example: What happened when Master Yoda went to find his Lightsaber crystal?.

This question was triggered by a comment made during an episode of a Star Wars television show. But the answer might be in a comic, novel, movie, television episode, video game, role playing game, trading card, or any other of the myriad of licensed Star Wars sources. If the question is tagged , and the answer was "In the book How Yoda Got His Groove Back, it explains that...", your hypothetical person who is only interested in TV shows would see this question in his favorite list, but it wouldn't belong there.

That's really the crux of the problem: even if we could add infinite tags without any downside, a major portion of our questions would either have to have every possible media tag, including many that don't actually relate to the question or answer, or the appropriate media tags could only be determined after the question was answered.

In order to make "I want to filter based off of media tags" possible, the tags would have to be used consistently for every question, and that's simply not possible.

so why exactly offer the favor/ignore-tags features? For questions about broomsticks?

The tag system is part of the larger platform, which drives all of the stackexchange sites. Favorite/ignore is to allow people to help people easily pick out specific topics from the question feed. In our case, Star Wars is a specific topic. Dune is a specific topic. Robots is a specific topic. Time Travel is a specific topic. Television, however, is not a specific topic. Its a "meta" tag, [arguably] useful only for refining searches on other, more specific topics. That blog entry I linked does a much better job than I can of explaining the problem with meta tags. I highly suggest it as a quick read.

BTW, the "broomsticks" tag has only one question, and therefore the tag will probably be removed during the automatic cleanup at some point (unless someone comes up with more "broomstick" questions). It's a bit too specific, imo.

  • Even that may not work. People may want questions from outside a tv-series representation. However, the reference to the series is important for that reason. In worlds outside of SE, tags are used as quick-indicators to bring you to a reference. Rules seem weird particularly here. You do want to invite guys that say, 'I watched a lot of TV, so let me gear down on that rather than be discouraged by the list in general'- hence the 'tag-ignore' features?
    – Solemnity
    Feb 20, 2013 at 7:59
  • And when you say 'pretty clear that media tags'... so why exactly offer the favor/ignore-tags features? For questions about broomsticks?
    – Solemnity
    Feb 20, 2013 at 8:09
  • @Solemnity I've tried to address your comments with some edits to my answer.
    – Beofett
    Feb 20, 2013 at 13:54

I agree with Beofett's assessment in general. One other thing I'd like to add:

Your suggestion seems to imply that we should aggressively enforce the usage of media tags, if only for the sole sake of allowing people to ignore certain media tags or better track site usage. This quite potentially presents some rather tricky problems, for relatively little gain.

Consider that I might want to ask a question about the background of a character from Star Wars, who is featured in one way or another across all of the franchise's media formats, and I want the question to be open to answers addressing any or all of the materials that character has been in.

Normally, I'd tag it thusly:

[star-wars] [character-background] [character-name]

(The character name tag, obviously, would be the actual name of the character - and I would probably only use it in the case of a particularly prominent character, e.g.: or )

However, presuming I'm reading your suggestion correctly, you would rather I tag it like this:

[star-wars] [character-background] [character-name] [movie] [tv-series] [book] [video-game] [short-story]

There's two problems with this:

  1. StackExchange limits questions to five tags each. This one is over that limit by three. It's not at all uncommon to have questions (appropriately) tagged with three non-media tags, which also are asking about franchises which span three or more media types. However, the five-tag limit was put in place to prevent over-tagging of questions and I would not ask (nor would I expect) StackExchange to change it even just for this site.
  2. This may trigger "ignore" rules for people whou would otherwise be interested in the subject. Say someone is generally uninterested in video games, but thoroughly enjoys the other media formats. I think it's safe to say they would be interested in a question such as this - as it encompasses more formats the person is interested in than not - but they would totally miss it because they've chosen to ignore .

In all, I agree that the current usage of media tags is very inconsistent - and more often than not superfluous. However, I believe the appropriate measure to take would be to curb their usage into something that makes sense rather than enforce their usage on all questions.

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