The topic of really broad tags, such as media tags, comes up every so often. To this point, the consensus has mostly been that these tags are more beneficial than detrimental. For example, here is the most recent discussion on media tags:

Why are the media tags still around?

The consensus there was that media tags "aren't too bad" and "fill a gap" that would otherwise require lots of sub-tags for works that appear on multiple media.

However, that discussion happened before gold-tag-badge privileges were put in place last year. This adds another element to the risk/reward equation for these tags, which was mentioned in this question as a reason not to allow "season" tags:

Would season tags be useful?

The problem is, gold tag badge holders can now insta-dupe-close anything with their tag. Meaning, if someone managed to accumulate enough questions and rep to get a gold tag in, say, , they could then insta-dupe any movie question. In addition, the powers that be have expressed interest in adding more in the future, and particularly giving privileges to silver tag holders.

Just to play devil's advocate to myself: in practice, I don't know that we're at risk for this any time soon. The closest we have are @Thaddeus, about 2/3 towards a gold, and @user14111m, who's 2/3 towards , and they are ahead by quite a large margin. However, we've already awarded several silver tags, and plenty of users are closing in on more.

So, is it time to revisit the usefulness and need for these broad tags?

  • 2
    I think this problem goes away if we restrict media tags to story ID questions; I've got no problem with proven story identifiers having a dupehammer for a particular media. To me, the bigger problem is that the media tags are also used to disambiguate between adaptations (Like the Harry Potter books vs. movies) Apr 8, 2015 at 23:31
  • @JasonBaker Indeed, the books tag is only used to disambiguate between adaptations.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Apr 8, 2015 at 23:53
  • @randal'thor Well, in theory. In practice... Apr 8, 2015 at 23:58
  • @JasonBaker if we're going to limit media tags to just story-id, then perhaps it makes more sense to have book-id, movie-id ?
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 9, 2015 at 0:54
  • 1
    131 questions tagged with "books" but not "story-identification"
    – phantom42
    Apr 9, 2015 at 1:49

3 Answers 3


I don’t think this is a problem (yet).

I’m not saying that we don’t have a problem with overly broad tags, but the potential for gold tag-badge abuse is a very weak argument against them.

Two reasons:

  1. There are no “broad” tags where this is likely to happen any time soon.

    Going through the list of tags, and looking at the users with the most answers in the broad tags:

    • [movie] – Richard ♦ (103), Thaddeus ♦ (74), phantom32 (34).
    • [short stories] – user14111 (135), Richard ♦ (29).
    • [comics] - Thaddeus ♦ (127), Pureferret ♦ (31), DVK (27).
    • [books] – Richard ♦ (30), Mike Scott (25).
    • [novel] – Richard ♦ (24), Mike Scott (17).
    • [tv] – Richard ♦ (34), Thaddeus ♦ (18), Tango (16)

    Below this, the broad tags have <200 answers and tend to become far more fragmented in terms of answerers.

    So the people most likely to get gold tag badges in these broad tags are already moderators, and so these new powers would mean nothing new. The users below them are so far off getting this tag badge that it’s nothing we need to worry about any time soon.

    The only exception is user14111 in the [short-stories] tag, but they’re already so close to a gold tag badge in [story-identification] that I doubt getting a gold badge in short stories would open up much potential for abuse that wasn’t already there.

  2. So far, there have been no problems on our site with people abusing these privileges.

    My personal approach (with a gold tag badge in Harry Potter) is to only close if I’m absolutely sure that a question is a dupe. Otherwise, I’ll drop a comment and let other people voice their opinion. I’ve seen very similar sentiments from our other gold tag badge holders and our mods.

    In general, to get a gold tag badge, you need to have been around a while. You’re probably familiar with how the site works. This isn’t a badge that a new user gets by accident – it takes sustained effort to earn this. That doesn’t strike me as the sort of person who’d abuse their new closing privileges.

    (And in the unlikely event that somebody did, there’s always the modhammer. I think it unlikely you could do this unnoticed for long.)

  • Yes! 10 more years and I'll overtake Thaddeus in the [comics] tag! Apr 9, 2015 at 17:32
  • @DVK not if I get there first! :p Good Analysis btw.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Apr 9, 2015 at 21:28
  • @Pureferret - I'm entertaining vain hope that moderators are too busy moderating to accrue rep :) Apr 9, 2015 at 22:24

I think some of the suggestions in comments are decent ideas, but dealing with your "devil's advocate" point, we've only awarded 8 total gold badges, to 6 people:

  • alexwlchan (Harry Potter)

  • DVK (Harry Potter & Star Wars)

  • Slytherincess (Harry Potter)

  • Darth Melkor (Lord of the Rings)

  • Thaddeus (Marvel Comics)

  • Richard (Star Trek & Story Identification)

Of these, 2 (Thaddeus & Richard) are already mods and the other 4 are high-rep users who are all active on Meta, have access to a great deal of Moderation tools already, and who I haven't seen a pattern of strange moderation from.

We've only awarded 27 total silver badges too. That's 19 not including those who have gold badges, who would already have the silver, and these badges were awarded to only 7 more people:

  • System Down (ASOIAF, Game of Thrones)

  • Thaddeus (Comics, DC Comics, Star Trek, Superman)

  • b_jonas (Harry Potter)

  • Richard (Harry Potter, movie, Star Trek TNG, Star Wars)

  • dlanod (Lord of the Rings)

  • user14111 (Short stories, Story Identification)

  • Izkata (Star Trek)

  • DavRob60 (Star Wars)

  • Mike Scott (Story Identification)

  • Darth Melkor (The Hobbit, Tolkien)

Like the Gold Badge list, all of these are high-rep users with the exception of b_jones, who still has over 7,000 rep. This is not a lot of people, and most of these already have a lot of mod tools avaliable, and I haven't heard complaints (granted, complaints could have been made in private).

But these badges are super rare. We have 16,963 users with more than 1 rep, so that's only 0.076% of users even have a silver badge. We have 29 users with over 20,000 rep, so less than half (45%) even have a silver badge and only about 1 in 5 (21%) has a gold badge. Of the 119 users with more than 5,000 rep, only 10.9% have even a silver badge. It's just really hard to get them, and that's the point.

It takes 200 answers to get a gold badge. It takes a really long time to answer 200 questions total, not to mention in just a single tag. Take a look at this query: only 22 people have answered 200 questions across all tags. It's just really hard to do.

TL; DR I realize I kind of went off on a tangent, but in my opinion, it's too soon to use this as a reason to restrict these broader tags. I realize we've had some issues with meta-tags in the past, but the ones that have no use at all have been burniated for the most part. I think the ones mentioned are fine, and maybe in a few years it could be revisited, but I see no threat of misuse at the moment.

  • 1
    +1 if only because you listed my gold badge first :-P
    – alexwlchan
    Apr 9, 2015 at 13:02
  • 1
    This is a sensible answer. Personally, I was proud to earn the first gold tag badge on the site in June of 2012. I try and be prudent about closing questions as duplicates. It does take a long time to earn a gold tag badge. It took me 19 mos of only answering Harry Potter questions to get mine. I don't think I've abused my binding VTC powers and I'm certainly not here to misbehave -- I can't imagine someone putting the work in that it takes to get a gold tag badge just to abuse its powers and wreak havoc on the site. :) Apr 12, 2015 at 13:25

Some more items to consider.

In order to get a gold tag badge you need a total tag score ("tag score is basically the combined total of all the upvotes and downvotes you've accumulated on answers under that specific tag") of 1000 in at least 200 answers. Since tag score * 10 roughly equals reputation, that's a 10000 reputation level, but more practically you're going to be a good bit above it because those answers will all have gotten at least 1 upvote, as well as a healthy percentage of accepts.

At this reputation level you already have colossal potential for misbehaviour, if you were so inclined, and this potential exists whether or not you also have a gold tag badge.

So if you were the type who would abuse a gold tag badge, then chances are that you're also the type who would abuse other site privileges; the ones in particular that I'm thinking of include posting more links, editing questions and answers, vote down, and regular close vote casting.

Realistically, if you're that type of user it's going to be a minor miracle if you've not been banned from the site already, before the risk of potential abuse of a gold tag badge even comes into play.

Despite all this, I would still like to see these overly-broad tags killed until they're dead, but for a different reason: they're just not particularly useful for searching.

  • I think the main reason for media tags is to limit questions in a multi-media franchize to specific parts of that franchise. In that capacity, they are useful for searching as well (e.g. I want ONLY questions/answers for Star Trek books. Or Only Harry Potter films) Apr 9, 2015 at 22:27
  • The media tags are not "useful for searching"? Do you think searching is all tags are good for? Have you noticed that the list of Top Questions shows only titles and tags? Personally, I find that the media tag added to a story-identification question helps me to decide without clicking whether I might be able to help: if it's short-stories, maybe; it it's tv, forget it.
    – user14111
    Apr 11, 2015 at 6:37
  • @user14111 - That's not what I said. Searching is the purpose of tags.
    – user8719
    Apr 11, 2015 at 10:59
  • Searching is one purpose of tags. The point of my comment was that tags also serve other purposes. I don't know what the point of your response was.
    – user14111
    Apr 12, 2015 at 0:25

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