I recently noticed some questions tagged with and it seemed off. Upon visiting the tag, I saw that its wiki is an awful circular definition followed by a short list of sci-fi elements that will never be of any use to anyone. There is no guidance on how to use the tag.

Searching Meta, I saw this older discussion about them where the general consensus seems to be that they are bad tags and not useful, possibly excepting the case where the question is specifically about the format itself and not about an instance of the format. (That is not how they are being used for the most part, at a glance.)

On the other hand, apparently the consensus is to force upon any question concerning the new Hobbit films. Besides a hypothetical use of search that seems uncommon (IMO) and probably not useful (what of questions that are relevant to multiple media formats?), I'm not sure why this is being done or why it's departing so far from the earlier discussion above.

So did I miss something? Why are we halfheartedly using these bad tags and not making any attempt to educate users about them?

  • 2
    Related. I must admit I had forgotten about the TV tag cleanup I initiated... at least in part because I was told that I should not be doing this alone, and no one else seemed interested in helping identify the q's that needed retagging.
    – Beofett
    Jun 21, 2013 at 17:58
  • The under-use of these tags is basically why I'm never going to be active on scifi.SE. About 80% of the discussion is about movies and TV, which I'm not interested in. I'm only interested in written SF. I have no effective way to filter out the media SF, so the site is unusable to me. I've tried filtering out every media-related tag I can find, e.g., star-wars, but it basically doesn't work because there are too many of them.
    – user2490
    May 30, 2014 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


There was no real consensus. The media tags are useful in some circumstances, which I think is why nobody really cared to get rid of them. For example, they are useful to distinguish between a famous book and the famous movie of the same name. They are also useful to categorize among .

That they are bad tags is debatable. They aren't meta tags: they have a clear meaning, and they could stand on their own (admittedly less so now that we've gotten rid of the tag killer. They're useful to search for, say, short-stories story-identification or movie the-hobbit.

I haven't been paying much attention lately, but my impression is that we're using these tags, not halfheartedly, but where they're useful.

Are they ideal? No. I think it would be better to use specialized tags instead of these tags combinations. For example, split into and , split into and and so on. But we aren't doing that, so keeping the media tags fills a gap.

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    Sorry, but your last paragraph is spoken like a true procedural programmer :) The whole idea between "movie + hobbit" is akin to OOP roles, IMHO. In programming, the general consensus is that roles are far superior to any other approach (including procedurally listing all sub-cases included, ESPECIALLY when >2 role dimensions exist) - e.g. see Steve Yegge or chromatic's bloggin on the topic. Following the same logic, I would argue that "movie+hobbit" is a BETTER approach once we scle up, than "hobbit-movie"/"hobbit-book"/"hobbit-computer-game"/"hobbit-the-flamethrower". Jun 22, 2013 at 2:11
  • @DVK-on-Ahch-To: Disagree. I might want to follow the-martian-movie but not the-hobbit-movie, and our tag following system is too braindead to support that when movie is a separate tag.
    – Kevin
    Dec 2, 2017 at 16:23
  • @Kevin - what's wrong with following The-martian (and ignoring movie questions for it)? Dec 2, 2017 at 16:42
  • @DVK-on-Ahch-To: I would have to ignore them manually (i.e. by not looking at them) rather than by tag-ignoring, because tag-ignoring movie would ignore all movies, not just the bad ones. Your proposal inconveniences me for some hypothetical "OOP purity"... but we're not even programming at all, let alone using OOP!
    – Kevin
    Dec 2, 2017 at 18:54

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