I would like to apologize in advance for the long post, this post encompasses a full change to how we use tags on Movies and TV by focusing on the types of tags that we allow on the site, rather than the individual tags themselves. As we've got many people attached to some very suspect tags, this is to keep the discussion above these attachments and focus on objectively improving the way we use tags on this site.

If at any point you feel that you want to make a case for keeping individual tags or groups of tags, but overall agree with cleaning up our tags, post and answer making your case for not removing a particular tag or subset of tags. Likewise, if you only want to discuss a particular part of the post (for example, genre tags), feel free to post an answer focusing on just that section.

To be clear, no immediate re-tagging effort will be taken at the conclusion of this post - this post serves only to establish policy on how we tag. A tag clean up post will follow once we reach a consensus on policy.

Before we start, here are a few things to consider. When Gaming Stack Exchange first started as one of a new breed of Stack Exchange 2.0 sites, they ran into the exact same situation that we're currently in and Stack Exchange stepped in and started cleaning it up. They had a wide variety of meta tags (tags that are essentially keywords for the content that appears in the question, for example tagging something with because it's about an energy weapon) and over-tagging everything.

The way that we currently use tags currently on Movies and TV Stack Exchange is a little bit of a mess. We've had past attempts at cleaning up bits of it but overall there is still a lot of tag misuse. On a site about a subject where potentially anything could be used as a subject title, using tags like to describe a movie that contains vampires when there is the potential for questions about a movie called Vampires makes the tag system confusing.

As we've already seen with the Aliens tag, using tags that describe the content of the question rather than categorize the type of question it is lead to misuse of the tags in question. For that reason, I feel we should have a nice and simple set of tags which cover broad categorizations with distinct names for our core purposes and remove all current "meta" tags - the information portrayed by these tags should appear in the body of the question, rather than in the tags themselves.

It's not just the obvious overlaps from running out of unused words or phrases for movie and television show titles, during our time in beta we picked up some fairly glaring contradictions in the way the site works, for example - we actively blacklist the use of , but we have two tags to discuss TV shows with and .

My suggestion is that we adopt a simple system allowing only specific categories of tags, leaving the rest of the tags for Movies and TV show names:

Name tags

This is what we're all about. We are Movies and TV Stack Exchange! There are lots of different tags, some with lots of questions and some with only one question, and in the future it will be this category of tag that grows the quickest. As we become more active, more questions will be asked about more movies and more TV shows, creating more name tags. In the instance of clashes between movies and TV shows with the same name, the TV show should be suffixed with -tv. In the instance of multiple medias with the same name, these should probably be suffixed with -year.

As we also allow questions about directors, actors, and other prominent people within the film industry (well, there wouldn't be many movies or TV shows without these...), people's names (including falls into this category. It's unlikely that there will be any overlap here but I feel that the director should get precedence in any conflicts.

Company tags (, , etc) are in this category as well.

This is for directors and company tags in particular - just because a movie is directed by an individual or created by some company is not necessarily a reason to add that tag, multiple name tags should only be used in the instance that the question being asked is specifically about those topics. This should also apply to multiple movie tags when a single franchise tag would suffice.

Franchise tags

If a series of movies is popular enough that we get questions about it, these should be appropriately tagged as the name of the franchise. For example, and already exists.

This makes the tag redundant so this should be removed.

Identification tags

Note: This post is not about whether these questions are on topic or not. This section can be removed if that ever changes, etc. At the time of writing, this category of question is on topic.

These tags are used for identification questions:

Industry tags

Since we allow questions about the film industry itself, we do need some descriptive tags to cover that content. Unfortunately the system doesn't support sub-tags otherwise I'd suggest that "industry roles" be sub-tags of "film-industry" but I don't think we'd end up in a situation frequently where both groups of tags are used at the same time.

Further to the above, there are also many other roles within the creation of cinematic media (such as foley) which currently do not have a tag, although we do have several meta tags that have questions that could be re-tagged with more suitable industry role tags (there's probably a few questions within , for example). This would be worth a consideration when looking at how to dispose of the meta tags.

Country specific industry tags

Movie specific tags

These tags cover the individual roles and components that make up movies and TV shows, whether that be for questions about screen writing or questions about the credit sequence.

Genre tags

I had a long think about this and I think that while it would be nice to limit them to specifically being used on identification questions, we should still keep genre tags because they're a useful filter and it is plausible to apply this as a filter to industry tags also, this might need a future edit maybe? Furthermore, removing genre tags would break our link with Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange, since they list questions tagged . (I think Anime hand Manga have a similar link as well).

I'm personally not a huge fan of genre tags and for me, these can go if the community decides, their inclusion here is primarily down to the functionality they provide for other sites - I don't think identification questions should have anything other than the identification tag against them!

The tags that are left (needs another title on this section?)

These tags are technically on topic.

Tags that should be deleted

These tags either overlap with existing movies that questions could be asked about, are purely meta tags - portraying information that should be described in the question body itself, or questions that do not fall into any of the other categories and have a very low subscribers to questions ratio (indicating they're poor as filters). I have tried to justify why each and every single one of these should be deleted. As stated earlier, if at any point you feel that you want to make a case for keeping individual tags or groups of tags, but overall agree with cleaning up our tags, post and answer making your case for not removing a particular tag or subset of tags.

Did you know that we actually blacklist the tag? Why does TV get to have two tags and why do we need short film? In all instances, these are tags that aren't followed by anybody and aren't going to be used as filters. These tags are also misused heavily, especially on identification questions.

Television and TV-Shows are gone!

, , ,

Unbelievably, we've got four adaptation tags. The primary "adaptation" tag even has the tag wiki "For questions about movies or TV shows adapted from other materials, for example books or video games." - In every instance, this information should appear in the question body if the question is about the adaption. In an ideal world, this information would also be in the tag wiki for the movie tag (for example, Lord of the Rings is adapted from...)

Adaptions has been cleaned up already!


Advertising is but a single component of marketing, why does it have it's own tag? Merge it into . So are movie posters...

Advertising has been cleaned up already!

Copyright is a subset of legal, we don't need two tags. One of them should go.

I don't think we need this tag - in nearly all instances it's a duplicate of , the rest are covered by , Name tags, , .

Keeping cinematography, getting rid of camera.

These tags are all meta tags by definition

As mentioned earlier, meta tags that are essentially keywords for the content that appears in the question, they describe the content in the question rather than what the question is about. For example tagging something with because it's about an energy weapon. They don't add anything to the question because they then later appear in the body of the question and/or the title of question. Another good example of a meta tag is tagging a question with because you're asking about the title of a particular movie, the question title itself will almost definitely include the word title and then it will get included again in the body of the question. The tag added nothing.

Tags are not intended to be used as substitutions for words that should appear in the title of the question. This is covered here by Stack Exchange's VP of Community Growth, Jaydles. You don't need the tag as a tag, because your question title should clearly state that you're asking about the title. It's just an unnecessary tag.

These tags have already been cleaned up as part of Cleaning up the General Topic Tags:

I feel these ones do not have a use and should be removed:

  • (I appreciate this could have a legitimate use, but at the moment it's used as a meta tag in pretty much every case. One particular case where it's used with should be tagged anyway, in my opinion)
  • (should be tagged with the name of the relevant award, or... judging by our existing questions, have the question deleted)
  • (To demonstrate how bad this tag is, it has 50 questions and no followers, that aside, it's horribly misused on pretty much every single question it's on and we could probably do with a for the remaining one that would be untagged, after all, we have an )

Tags that might have a use but are currently misused

These tags might have a use, I don't know your opinions on this matter. Currently my opinion on the matter is that these be deleted as looking at the questions currently assigned to them they appear to be used primarily as topic or subject tags in conjunction with an identification tag.

These ones are used in conjunction with multiple name tags and I'm not sure that's required either:

I know that this is a lot of tags to delete, but I feel that this particular clean up has been long over due. Many of these tags have been bought up before by people other than me and although positively voted, no action seems to have been taken in many instances. Quoting Jeff Atwood:

In my defense, in the spirit of Wikipedia's Be Bold, we also like to encourage direct action to improve the site -- not next month, not next year, but hey how about.. right now?

What are your opinions? Can we please adopt a sensible and consistent tagging policy?

  • Note: this post is in a state of flux while we're going through all of the tags on the site and discussing them in chat, stuff is going to move around and get chopped and changed as we go through this process
    – user5603
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 10:18
  • Noticed that in Anime and manga feed but looks already broken to me because they only covering on piece and anime tag . And we have other anime question too not tagged with this two tags.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 10:24
  • 1
    From a user-experience perspective, have we (or SE, in general) done any defining of the purpose of tags to begin with? What is the intent of tagging on SE? Have we done any research on SE users as to how they use tags? I think the first step in figuring out the proper policy is to first understand the purpose of tagging and how users use them today.
    – DA.
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 17:50
  • As someone who proudly wears his Purple Heart for Retagging my hat is off to you.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


A lot of the tags you've listed as meta tags are very close to genres IMO.

I think the key is to ask, would someone view the tag page for this? Many people are interested in animation, black & white films, silent films or short films. So I think tags of different "mediums" are perfectly valid.

Same goes for 'vampires' and 'zombies' - people are fans of these types of films and it's perfectly reasonable to want to find all questions of that type on the site.

  • 1
    This is my take on tags as well. I think this site needs to perhaps first ask ourselves why we want to use tags. I, personally, use tags to find large buckets of related questions--not small groups of specific questions. For the latter, I use search and the titles usually cover that for me. I agree, if I'm interested in Zombies, I'm interested in all sorts of films directly and indirectly related to zombies.
    – DA.
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 17:46

I don't think it's time for a significant change in the way we use tags here.

Now first of all, your tag category based approach for cleaner tagging is in general a very good idea. However, I don't agree with some of the categorization you make and with many of the tags you propose for removal, as well as the philosophy this is based on. But let's have a closer look.

Name tags, franchise tags

Check, good idea.

Industry tags, Industry roles

Those two categories should most probably be merged together. Their separation is not entirely clear to me and they just seem to describe aspects of making, producing, and distributing movies, or Aspects of film-making if you want. And I think many of your supposedly deletable tags would also fit into there.

Genre tags

Those might also be a good idea. They have value for identification question, even though it's not clear to me right now if they are a good idea for ID questions or should be removed there as well. But nevertheless, as a general tag, they are very usefull since there can be interesting general questions about a genre.

Tags that are left

Many of those fit easily into other categories:

Tags that should be deleted

Many of those can very well stand alone as the primary tags for a question without a specific movie needed and saying they currently aren't is a non-argument when we have millions of questions that haven't been asked yet. And many of those also fit into aspects of film-making and production, especially:

  • and its brothers. I agree that it stands to reason if they are all needed as separate tags, but this was discussed before and the current situation was deemed appropriate. Maybe we just need to get rid of the general tag.
  • is a kind of marketing, but I'm not sure if it shoudl be merged with or or rather be left alone. Needs to be assessed further.
  • does not seem to be an aspect ofm . The latter is about advertising for the movie while the former seems to be about advertising within the movie. If not, then I agree this should be cleaned a bit and clarified in the tag wiki, but at least that's the way they should be used, I think.
  • might indeed be a subset of , but might also work alone since it is a very significant subset.
  • The problem of and should indeed be adressed, they seem for all intents and purposed duplicates.
  • , - It's indeed onfortunate that we have both of them. Their use should either be clarified or they should be merged, needs to be assessed. But a general tag for the intricacies of producing and releasing stuff for scheduled TV seems reasonable. This has been discussed before and it's use has been clarfified. But maybe a rename is in order.
  • , , Those are important aspects of releasing and procuding movies and of course they shouldn't be used for any kind of question about a sequel, but only questions about the sequel-nature itself. But when such a question arises (maybe not even about a specific movie), they seem pretty appropriate to describe what the question is about.

So much to the film-making tags, the one left, might easily count as a genre or rather medium tag, like , , or .

These tags are all meta tags by definition

So, now to the apparently big problem of "meta tags". You keep saying those words, but frankly, they don't really mean that much to me, no matter who coined them. I might go totally against SE philospohy in saying that but to me tags are way more than just for sorting and filtering questions. They are also for categorizing questions. And that is what the question is about. A question tagged is obviously about a movie's title. To me a question shouldn't have a minimum of tags, but a maximum of (valid) tags that describe the question from coarse to fine. Not because there might be anyone favoriting or ignoring one of the tags, but also because they classify the kind of question asked. This might not be how SE has originally invented tags, but well, it's like I use to see them. I don't want to live in a world where we only have movie names as primary tags and I can't wrap my head arund which of the 150 Game of Thrones questions ask for deeper analysis, for plot explanation, for a character's motivation, for the intricacies of adapting it from the books, or the problem of producing that show. (Likewise a sentence like "they describe the content in the question rather than what the question is about" seems like a paradox to me and shows that the whole matter is far less clear-cut than it may seem, afterall a question's content is what it's about, no?).

And just because a tag could appear in the question body doesn't mean it's useless, afterall movie name's (which I guess we all agree are valid tags) should definitely appear in the question body, too. And likewise, just because it could be in a question's title doesn't mean it will be or has to be. The question title is a short line describing the question superficially, for conciseness and non-redundancy it should not include any tags, but I don't see this holding the other way around, since not every title of every question that could be asked for a tag is pre-defined.

And last but not least, many of the tags listed here (and I'll take the good old example yet again) can very well be used as the primary tags for a question without any necessary movie name involved, when it's a general question about the matter. Just because something can or even currently does accompany a movie name tag doesn't mean it always has to.

But let's look at all of those in particular and see in which category they might fit:

  • , , , , , , , , , , , , Those describe the broader category of questions asked and are to me very important to broadly classify the question. As I explained in the discussion about plot-explanation, they may help to differentiate the various questions about a movie against each other. And while I'm not a personal fan of the -appearance questions, they seem to be valid and often asked kinds of questions here. Maybe could go as well or covered by the others, not sure about that.
  • might serve as a genre/medium/style tag, or even as a bit of a middle between genre/medium and film-making.
  • , are obviously film-making questions. You can't have but not , and a movie without a is quite a strange movie to me (yeah, I know silent movies and experimental stuff aside, you know what I'm talking about), even if the latter is likely a target for the dreaded . One might however discuss if should be merged in any way with , since technicalities aside those seem for all intents and purposed the same questions. And a movie with that name existing is never a valid argument. For that matter there exist at least ~17 movies for each and every word in each and every language.
  • , , are in the same vein as and friends and are specific production and release related things, easily counted into .
  • , are clearly industry and distribution related. Maybe should be a synonym of but they seem useful.
  • , , , are important aspects of a movie about which there could be many questions asked about, even general ones. I agree that there might be some merging within here, as seems a bit of a cross between and , but this needs to be assessed further. They might count as either industry/film-making tags or "aspects of a movie" tags, in line with some of the things listed above, like or .
  • is easily an industry tag. But I agree that it might be questionable to have a specific tag, too. Hmm, needs more thorough assessment.

Some of the tag I agree don't make too much sense at all:

So much to my individual rambling about the specific tags. But what then is the bigger picture I have in mind? Is there some broader structure I propose and where do I draw the line? I tell you, and it brings us right to the tags I have not yet listed and which I agree should probably vanish. That is

General topics that movies could be about but that are not aspects of a movie or directly related to the field of movies.

Those should be invalid tags, which from your list would in particular be , , , , , (wut?), , (seriously?), (is a sub-genre or does it belong here, not sure). I understand very much that those can be prominent themes of a movie and there can be interesting questions asked about e.g. the depcition of violence in movies or the evolution of vampires and their treatment in movies. But if we want to bring some kind of structure into the tagging process and want to draw a line somewhere, then this should be the point we should not cross. In contrast to or , or , while interesting topics to talk about even on our site, are not directly related to the field of movies and are only things movies could be about. Allowing those brings us to the question when some totally arbitrary topic is important enough to warrant a tag for it and it could possibly lead to tags about every kind of topic depicted in a movie (and not only topics related to movies).

Though, that also isn't too easily to decide. For example sometimes it could be hard to assess if something's a genre or a general topic. This also has already been brought up before in various related discussions, with inconclusive outcomes, though. But since this question here proposes a more general policy change, and I don't agree with that heavy a change proposed in the question, I would say this (general topics in movies) is the line we should not cross and might adress this in a more specific meta question.

So, to sum up, while your general idea of a more structured approach is quite good, I don't think it leads to much of a big change regarding the actual practice of tagging, simply because I don't agree with many of the tags proposed for deletion and would classify them to one category or another. I don't agree that much with the whole "meta tag" fuss mainly because I might have a bit of a different approach to tagging than SE originally intended it. While I agree that tagging can be a mess here sometimes and that there are quite a few problems with individual tags, I however think that it largely works so far. But what I do agree with is, that we should get rid of general topic tags as they indeed open the window to a completely inconsistent tagging policy.

  • This is an excellent start - you're right that there are a lot of grey areas where we seem to have duplicate tags or super narrow tags where something more generic could be used - even on a first pass we'd be cutting out a lot of the worst tags.
    – user5603
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 8:09

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