The portion concerning naming conventions has been moved to a new answer, to make it easier to follow (and edit).
I've started off looking at the top tags, which I arbitrarily set as tags with count >= 50.
I just wanted to see what was there. I think the popular tags are the ones which the majority of users are going to be exposed to, and thus shape their ideas about how to tag and what kinds of tags to make.
In order to do this analysis, I had to come up with some way to categorize the tags. I wanted to keep to a small number that would include, theoretically, all of the tags.
Here's what I came up with:
- Franchise - A name that generally refers to a franchise, which I define as a set of related works that span multiple series or multiple forms of media. The best examples are some of our top questions: harry-potter, star-trek, lord-of-the-rings, avengers.
- Series - An individually named series which may or may not be part of a franchise. See star-trek-tng and game-of-thrones
- Work - An individually named single work, such as a movie or book, which may or may not be part of a series or franchise. See a-new-hope or interstellar
- Work-specific - A character, setting, object, etc. that relates to a specific work, series, or franchise. See middle-earth, jedi, horcrux
- Author - Specific authors of written works
- Publisher - The publisher of works. Only 2 examples are in the 50+ range, those being marvel-comics and dc-comics, but smaller ones such as disney and dark-horse-comics are found.
- Media - The format of the work in questios. See movie, novel
- Genre - Genre classifications of works, such as young-adult, horror, post-apocalyptic, and 80s. Genre and Media classifications have some interesting uses, which I will point out in detail later.
- Topic - Broad topics you can't necessarily pin down to a specific work or genre. See aliens, magic, time
- Probing - Tags used for questions used to clarify a work, its content, or its creation. The main example being our top tag, story-identification, but a large number of others exist such as plot-explanation, suggested-order, characters.
After looking at these top 173 tags, I found that they broke down as follows:
By number of tags:
By number of questions tagged:
What shouldn't be surprising here is that Franchise tags are not only the most common types of tags, but the most commonly tagged questions. Part of this is because of how I classified franchise. What I did find surprising is that Work-specific tags are our 3rd most common type of tag, but 6th most commonly tagged questions. Although, Work-specific tags have more tagged questions than any 2 of the least commonly types of tagged questions: Publisher, Author, Work, Genre.
A complete breakdown of what I classified these tags as can be found in my other answer.
Relationships with Probing tags
I found Media and Genre tags to have some interesting things going on with them.
They're rarely used alone, and tend to be attaching to some type of Probing tag. The most common example being story-identification, which is what I'll use in my examples.
- young-adult - x225, 96.9% (x218) with story-identification
- video-games - x191, 05.2% (x10) with story-identification
- horror - x165, 84.2% (x139) with story-identification
- anime - x109, 48.6% (x53) with story-identification
- childrens-novel - x106, 90.6% (x96) with story-identification
- post-apocalyptic - x99, 89.9% (x89) with story-identification
- cartoon - x96, 69.8% (x67) with story-identification
- science-fiction-genre - x95, 23.2% (x22) with story-identification
- hard-sci-fi - x89, 60.7% (x54) with story-identification
- fantasy-genre - x85, 36.5% (x31) with story-identification
- soft-sci-fi - x56, 92.9% (x52) with story-identification
- 80s - x75, 90.7% (x68) with story-identification
- 90s - x45, 97.8% (x44) with story-identification
- 70s - x15, 100.0% (x15) with story-identification
I included all of the decade tags, as only 2 more existed that weren't in the 50+ range. However, decade tags have since been burninated!
Combining both into one table, here's a quick chart showing the %age of each tag that is used with story-identification
The average percent of Media and Genre tags used with story-identification is 66.7%. That is, the average of the percents seen in the list and graph above.
The percent of Media and Genre tagged questions that include story-identification is 60.5%.
Although comics seems to be an exception to the Probing connection, a cursory look at those questions shows that the tag is often used to specify that a question is only about the comic-book version of events or characters, instead of the entire franchise which may include movies and TV shows. This is how Media tags are used in general: they are almost never used alone, and make the most sense when used in conjuction with other tags to narrow scope.
The two big genre tags, science-fiction-genre and fantasy-genre have some counter-intuitive definitions based on actual usage:
Should not be used to categorize questions about specific works of science fiction.
Should not be used to categorize questions about specific works of Fantasy.
However, none of the other genre tags have such a caveat. Furthermore, while this "rule" exists in the tag descriptions, it's not universally enforced. 53 story-identification questions include one of these two genre tags. I think it would actually be much higher, if not for tag-definition and enforcement, where those two genre tags are actively removed from Probing questions. I don't see any reason why a site named Science Fiction and Fantasy would have more questions tagged horror (x165) than either science-fiction-genre (x95) or fantasy-genre (x85).
We also have hard-sci-fi (x89) and soft-sci-fi (x56), which seem to circumvent the "not be used to categorize" rule, but no such tags exist for fantasy, such as high-fantasy. Although, there is urban-fantasy (x27).
The decade tags have a definition that states they're for the 20th century (19xx), although it doesn't say whether it about works set in those decades, or works that were created in those decades. It seems primarily to be used for the latter. However, they're not used only for clearly-known time-frames. 13 questions are tagged both 90s and 80s, and 7 are tagged 80s and 70s, all with story-identification.
Decade tags have been burninated!
Movies, books, novels
We have movie and novel, which are both high-level genre tags, but used differently. To see how, we also have to bring in books (which is plural, unlike the other two), which is defined as:
Use this tag only to differentiate the book from the movie or other media.
However, when you remove story-identification from the question, movie is used primarily to differentiate the work from the written media, rather than being the expected standard implied by the books description, and novel is used more like books says it should be. Keeping story-identification, and novel and books are primarily used for that.
Oh, and there's book-vs-movie (x66), which further entangles things.
This is still an issue that should be evaluated.
I've found that there are rules regarding how to use specific tags hidden in the tag descriptions themselves, but I can't seem to find a meta that contains a list of all such tagging rules. For example, you can't go to one place to see how science-fiction-genre, fantasy-genre and books are supposed to be used. There's possibly more hidden rules, but I'm not going to go through every tag description to find them. In general, I don't think these description rules are followed. Instead, I think they're only enforced by those aware of the rules already.
Jedi, for example
Based on an earlier analysis of some tags, such as jedi, I wanted to do an update.
Out of over 1000 Star Wars questions, we currently have 66 questions tagged jedi, and that's one of the more popular tags. We have 887 questions tagged star-wars that contain the word "Jedi", but aren't tagged with jedi. This is an excellent example of why these sub-tags don't work.
Out of 2541 star-wars questions, we currently have 170 with jedi. We have 598 star-wars questions without jedi but contain the word "Jedi" in the title or body, 126 of which have "Jedi" in the title.
Much of the meta discussions I found regarding some of the genre and media tags happened 4 years ago, when the site was young and smaller. There's merit behind the discussions, and I think they were valid and worked at that scale, but I'm not sure our general tagging policies now reflect how people actually use the tags. Here are some example questions:
Should we do away with the media tags (books, novel, TV, movies, etc.)?
- This purged several media tags that weren't used very much at that time, but left others. By doing these purges, and actively removing attempts at recreating these tags that were previously purged, we can't get accurate numbers on how often people are trying to use them, which seems to be part of our criteria for whether or not we keep them.
How should we handle tag hierarchies?
- This discussion is more recent, but has an interesting look at how some Work-specific tags are used, such as jedi, and how Author tags are used, as well. The Star Wars stats have changed, so I decided to update them above.
- Discusses the creation of horror, which was poorly received but now has beat out our main genres!
Do we need a sci-fi and a fantasy tag?
Why don't we have 'science-fiction' and 'fantasy' (or similar) tags?
- These clarify why we have fantasy-genre instead of fantasy. However, it doesn't address that people still feel the need to use the tags, and have co-opted the
-genre tags to do the work for them when necessary. I think the fantasy and science-fiction policies may need re-evaluation in light of the use of Probing questions on the stack. Probing questions make up a high number of our questions, and genre classifications can be helpful for them.