As discussed in this completed proposal regarding all of the other content description tags and this subsequent discussion on tags in general, I would like to start a discussion about Genre tags and their use.
As discussed extensively both in the above posts and elsewhere on the Stack Exchange network (including in our own chat room), the purpose of tags is to clearly describe what the question is, rather than what the content is. This leads us to some inconsistent behavior in the way we use genre tags.
To be clear, genre tags are the following:
Currently these are used in three ways, not all of these ways are even as they should be and as far as I can see only one of these ways is valid:
On identification questions identify-this-movie science-fiction
NOT a valid use cases. In this instance, science-fiction is not describing the question, it's describing the content of the question. The question isn't about science fiction and so science-fiction shouldn't be there. This means that all identification questions would exclusively have their identification tag and nothing else.
On movie questions interstellar science-fiction
NOT a valid use cases. We shouldn't be tagging these with genre tags anyway but this still happens on a daily basis.
In this instance, the movie, interstellar is a science fiction movie, that isn't going to change and therefore the science-fiction tag is completely redundant. The tag wiki for interstellar would ideally state "An American science fiction movie", and this is where this information should be conveyed.
On everything else
This is the valid use - if your question isn't identification and isn't about a specific movie but is relevant only to a specific genre, you would tag that question with an appropriate tag for what the question is about and a genre tag. You could have ten basically identical questions each with film-techniques with a different genre tag and all ten questions would have different answers (most likely) that require the differentiation provided by the genre tag. I'm not saying that film-techniques is the only valid use - any non-movie tag that isn't identification is a technical question.
Now, there are a couple of other things to take into consideration:
- feed bots for various sites operate off genres
- keeping tags for one purpose is going to cause an edit overhead for all the questions they shouldn't be used on
- a quick browse through the genre tags right now indicate that there are instances of use case #1 and #2. Chat seems to believe there are some use case #3s around but I haven't found any yet
- use case #1 is extremely inconsistent to the point where it's nearly completely pointless using the tags in this manner
It would probably be worth completely getting rid of all genre tags and coming up with a better solution (merely mentioning the genre in the body and title of the question, perhaps) for the tiny use case in which they should actually be used.
With this in mind, I can see only a few possible solutions (although this could just be me being short sighted so if you have any better ideas...):
Solution 1 -
Ignore this post, continuing using genre tags, but use them consistently (which means editing every post on the site to ensure that they're used consistently, and not just when that particular person wanted to use them).
This would mean the removal of all instances of use case #2, the editing of genre tags onto every identification question where the information is provided, etc.
Solution 2 -
Remove genre tags from every non-technical question. Removing all genre tags from only non-technical questions (see above for what a technical question is) would be a large job and not prevent people from misusing these tags in the future.
This would mean the removal of all instances of use case #1 and #2.
Solution 3 -
Remove all genre tags from every question and edit the genre name into technical questions. This is the easiest solution - mods can remove the tags without edits, and moving forwards the tags can't be re-created by users without enough reputation to do so.
This would mean the complete removal of all genre tags from the site.