I've been browsing M&TV questions, tags, and meta discussions regarding tags, but haven't been able to pin down how we as a community decide whether to abbreviate tags or not. Here's a few discrepancies I've noticed:

  • Movies with joining words ('the', 'of' etc) missing, whilst other movies have them.
  • TV shows where the community/fanbase abbreviation takes precedence, when the full name would fit.
  • Other, more general inconsistencies, spelling errors etc

Some Examples:

The Star Trek tags would fit if they were written out fully, even before the tag length was updated from 25 to 35 characters - (albeit some would have had to drop some connecting 'the's):

Titles where we leave off a leading 'the':

Titles where we leave a leading 'the' on:

Other inconsistencies:

I'm mainly an Arqade community member, and over there we tend to only abbreviate tags when they won't fit the 35-character limit. If the game has a well known, fan/community-made abbreviation, we add that as a synonym of the full game (for example, WoW->World of Warcraft).

So what is the policy on tag names and abbreviations for Movies & TV?

  • 1
    Ninja comment to say tagging sucks in the SE system.
    – Tablemaker
    Aug 25, 2013 at 14:44
  • 3
    Most of the problems arise due to the stupid 25-character limits. Ok, we don't want entire descriptions in tags, but 25? 40 would suffice for many purposes and wouldn't make the tag line explode either. And thanks for a question addressing all those inconsistencies, of course. I for myself hate abbreviations, that's somehow on a level with leetspeak to me. Though if you find actual misspellings, file a moderator tag and they will correct it.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Aug 25, 2013 at 14:46
  • 1
    @ TylerShads - completely agree there :-). @Cristian, no problem (about the question), that's why I asked, I also dislike abbreviating when not needed, especially when it only hurts our SEO. there are probably many more tags, I just added the ones I saw. Feel free to edit in the ones you find as well
    – Robotnik
    Aug 25, 2013 at 15:04
  • As this is tagged faq, I've edited my question slightly to bring it up to date with the present day standards (35 character limit on tags) to make it easier for future readers. However if the community doesn't feel this should be done, please don't hesitate to roll it back. :)
    – Robotnik
    May 15, 2020 at 3:25

2 Answers 2


I agree with your policy that we shouldn't abbreviate titles as long as they fit into the 25 character limit. Abbreviations that are made without apparent reason, like all those Star Trek examples or the choice of AVP for Aliens vs. Predator, should be discouraged as they (at least if done out of mere ability and in lack of actual reasons) tend to carry a bit of elitist group thinking or fanboyism that tends to lock out anyone not acquainted with their actual meaning, which damages the seriosity and accessibility of the site.

Tags should capture the original title as best as possible, as that is the only completely objective criterium to rely on (though problems arise for non-English movies and such special cases, but that is an entirely different question dicussed in this related meta post). This includes any usage of small connective words like "the", "of", or "a". Therefore I find e.g. the rather famous and tags quite unintuitive and the role of primary tag and synonym (which have "the"s) should be reversed for those.

Yet a completely different case is when the tag doesn't fit the 25 character limit (and my above opinions are only meant for the cases when it does). In this case small connective words are probably the first things that can be dropped, if their lack doesn't impede the dynamics of reading flow and doesn't destroy the actual meaning of the title (while that may be rather subjective, it is indeed a movie by movie decision done mostly by reason rather than hard facts), which makes leading "the"s the best candidates for removal. If that is not enough and maybe the whole title is completely overlong, there have to be taken individual decisions. An interesting example I once had was Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, which would have only fit as , but this IMHO doesn't read that well, so based on the fact that there seemed to be more movies in this kind of franchise I settled for simply turning it into a rather franchise-style , but that was indeed a rather sbjective decision.

The Scott Pilgrim example is a good one, too, allowing for a wide range of possibilities. I think in this case simply would work, given that it's so unique a name. But if using a larger more accurate tag name, I'd rather settle for and thus remove little connective tissue but still conveying the original meaning, instead of abbreviating a word or removing the wrong word, as in or , which destroys the original meaning.

And as long as there are no questions about the Buffy-movie, the tag for the TV-show should really be . Tag changes that extend tags by meta information in order to resolve ambiguities, like this -tv or the common year-appendages, should be postponed until those ambiguities actually arise. This is also why I freely described the U.S. version of Wilfred in 's tag description, but am happy to change this to once there is a question about the Australian original some day. Nobody forbids to rename existing tags once their name could be more appropriately used for another topic.

So to sum up, if the original title fits into the limit, it is the only objective criterium by which one can go and thus should be captured as accurately as possible. And if it doesn't fit it is really a (maybe sbjective) movie by movie decision driven by common sense, reading esthetics and archival purposes. And meta appendages should only be used when actually neccessary.

  • @Robotnik Not sure about this. Your current question asks a quite definite and specific question and turning it into some kind of continous tracking list of tag-errors would destroy its original meaning. I'd rather propose a more dnymaic question for this, where answers are individual errors that get deleted when fixed or something similar, but abusing a definite question qith an accepted answer for this would be counterintuitive, I think.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Sep 4, 2013 at 14:07
  • @Robotnik Other than that, I'm not sure we need such a tracker anyway. This question#s tags have always been examples and not na ehaustive list, no need to update it. If you find a broken or wrong tag, fix it or file a moderator flag on it. And if you don't know how to fix it and this question and its answers don't help, then ask a new meta question on the sepcific tag or the general problem imposed by it.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Sep 4, 2013 at 14:08
  • @Robotnik But this question here asks for a policy on a specific thing with some examples, neither are additional examples neccessary that would show the exact same problems (and could be fixed easily), nor should you add examples that demonstrate completely different tagging problems and would invalidate/incompletize the existing answers.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Sep 4, 2013 at 14:11
  • Yeah I get the 'see something say something' idea, I just think if this is going to be enforced it'd be best to get all of them out in the open right now, as opposed to letting it stagnate and then people aren't sure whether this is the actual policy. I think I remember a similar idea happening over on Arqade, let me check
    – Robotnik
    Sep 4, 2013 at 14:12
  • ah, never mind, it was a question completely dedicated to cleaning and tracking the tags, not a policy question
    – Robotnik
    Sep 4, 2013 at 14:14
  • totally agree on all points except for having different tags for different versions of the same movie. I think these movies should share the same tag and then either in the title or the text (depending on what looks/reads the best,) specify which version of the movie it is. There's a couple of reasons why I think this should be the case. One of the reasons being that it's not always clear that, for example, "us" actually refers to the U.S., as it could just as easily be the pronoun and refer to a totally different movie.
    – Tom
    Sep 4, 2013 at 17:49
  • @Tom - nice point, how about year released for the later ones? [total-recall]/[total-recall-2012] style
    – Robotnik
    Sep 4, 2013 at 21:21
  • @Robotnik it's better than country, but I still think that having just the title as the tag is the best choice. If it's actually necessary to know which version it is (sometimes it is, sometimes it's not,) it's easy enough to add it to the title and/or the text. Tags shouldn't be any more specific than they have to be, and I believe the release year and country is too specific for a tag.
    – Tom
    Sep 4, 2013 at 21:33
  • 1
    @Tom - Hmm, I'm not sure if I completely agree. I personally believe tags should not be ambiguous between two identically named but separate shows. By looking at a tag, you should know exactly what show the question is talking about.
    – Robotnik
    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:16
  • 1
    Having said that, we shouldn't disambiguate until we actually have questions about both that warrant separate tags. Take the Buffy example - We are more likely to get questions relating to the TV show than the movie (In fact we don't have a buffy movie question yet). Which is why I suggested the current tag should be [buffy-the-vampire-slayer], for the TV show. If and when we get a buffy movie question, we can work it out then
    – Robotnik
    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:17
  • How about "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"? Sep 27, 2013 at 2:51
  • @coleopterist I guess the current approach (liberty-valence if I remember correctly) is a good compromise.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Oct 1, 2013 at 14:33
  • 1
    @NapoleonWilson Given this is an faq question it might be worth updating some of the numbers & points you make here after last year's 35-char tag increase :-)
    – Robotnik
    Jan 29, 2018 at 3:03

Nice points raised. I agree with you on most, with some exceptions.

  • I think "the" should never be ignored from the title if the total count is less than 25 characters long.

  • In the example of Buffy I disagree with you. Because tag will we confusing between TV series and movie. So I think we should keep the tag as it is.

  • Abbreviation tags are also helpful in many cases. Such as Aliens Vs. Predator which is more famously known as AVP. (We can make both tags and make abbreviation tags synonymous to the original).

  • Phoenix spelling mistake surely needs to be corrected. Even Scott Pilgrim tag needs to be more descriptive in its name, as you suggested.

In addition to this-

I think tag also need to be renamed to . There is no use of the word "franchise" here, as all question are regarding the TV Series.

  • 2
    Meh, Aliens vs. Predator is one of those occassions where abbreviating it to just AVP is plain ridiculous. Whoever knows what AVP stands for knows what Aliens vs. Predator means either and who doesn't know what it stands for isn't really helped by 3 single letters. And synonyms should be created on demand, whenever a new user incorrectly creates a new one, but not out of mere fun.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Aug 26, 2013 at 7:59
  • @ChristianRau that's why tag description is for. I think there is no bad in using famous abbreviations in tag.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Aug 26, 2013 at 8:05
  • 2
    Addressing point 2, my reasoning was based on two points: a) we've only got two questions to do with buffy, and both are for the TV show, and b) I think the TV show is more well known (I didn't know there was a movie until I read the tag description). Given these two reasons, I favoured the full name for the show, not the movie. For point 3, I also think well known abbreviations are helpful, but I don't think they should take precedence over the full name (which was my point with the World of Warcraft tag)
    – Robotnik
    Aug 26, 2013 at 8:07
  • 1
    And weighing in on the AVP discussion, I think AVP should be a synonym of Alien vs Predator, the AVP tag will still exist (for SEO), but the full names should take precedence
    – Robotnik
    Aug 26, 2013 at 8:10
  • @AnkitSharma The problem that arises then is what is famous? The fact that this isn't answerable objectively that easy is also the reason why I consider the identity of Luke Skywalker's father a spoiler instead of common knowledge (to draw a connection to a similar meta discussion).
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Aug 26, 2013 at 8:14
  • @Robotnik Buffy is the finest example of reboot from Film to TV-Series. As film is really dumb compare to TV-series. But my personal view point is to keep it the same.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Aug 26, 2013 at 8:17

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