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The usage of the tag seems quite a bit inconsistent at the moment. While it is clear that it should be used for any question pertaining to the general cross-movie intricacies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seems largely unclear if it should also be used for individual movies. There are many questions with that tag that are not about the MCU in general but simply about the story of individual movies. Likewise are there many questions about individual movie that don't have the tag. So how should this tag be used?

We already have some larger movie series tags which are (supposed to be) used for each and every question about a movie of that series, in addition to individual movie tags (if necessary), like , , , , ...

However, the individual movies there seem to have a slightly more tight relation and similarity. They are much more "movie series" than "movie franchises" (if there even is a difference between the two terms). This is especially notable in their titles, which more often than not include the series as part of the title (of the form Series: Movie). This makes using the series tag also a practical matter of avoiding overly long tag names. This isn't the case for the MCU, likewise don't we have tags for each and every remotely connected movie franchise (let alone tag each and every question with those). Neither are we supposed to use too much tags to describe the movie the question is about, since tags are supposed to describe what the actual question is about. In the same way we don't tag questions about individual movies with genre or director tags if the questions are not about the genre or director specifically.

On a merely practical note, using it for each and every MCU movie would of course mean we'd have to retag each and every existing question that doesn't have it yet, and there are quite a few of them. But even more so, we would have to enforce its usage on each and every question about an MCU movie that comes up in the future. That is something new users are much less likely to do correctly if the series name is not an obvious part of the movie title and they might not even be aware of the existence of a broader franchise those movies are part of.

So the primary question here is, is the Marvel Cinematic Universe contained and connected enough that questions about its individual movies have the obligation to be tagged with and would be incomplete without it, or if it is not a sufficiently tight movie series to warrant polluting the limited 5 tag slots with what amounts to just a classification of the movie and not the actual question itself.

(This discussion of course also would have the potential for setting a precedent for other less tightly coupled movie franchises to warrant tags that are used on each and every question. Something to bear in mind.)

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    Anyway, my interpretation is that questions tagged with MCU needed to involve more than just one film or character.... If it's only about Iron Man, and is only about Iron Man 1 & 2 (for example) then the MCU tag is not necessary. If, however, it's about how the different films/characters interact with each other, that is a question about the MCU, not about a specific film. – Catija Jul 27 '15 at 16:09
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The question you ACTUALLY are asking is:

"Should all the movies/films/videos/shows of a given franchise be tagged with the associated franchise tag, regardless of question scope?"

To that question, and ultimately to the question asked in the OP, I say "YES!", for the reasons of (1) consistency, (2) search-ability and (3) because they are related, potentially in ways that have not yet been revealed, and especially since the Marvel-Cinematic-Universe (M-C-U) franchise prompting this question is under continued development.

The arguments against doing so, followed by counter-points, are:

  1. "We'd have to re-tag all the questions!" Counter-point: this is a one-time problem; people will cope with questions re-sorting to the top for a short time-frame.
  2. "We'd have to enforce it!" Counter-point: this is an occasional problem, and this site is moderated well-enough that this is not a real issue; plus you're already doing it for all the other franchises. This is the reason why you get paid with reputation for editing.
  3. "We eat one of the 5 tag slots!" Counter-point: you need to ask how many Movies.SE questions use 4+ tags currently, and whether a question with 5 tags and no franchise tag really needs all 5 non-franchise tags.
  4. "The current tag "marvel-cinematic-universe" is long and unwieldy!" Counter-point: this concern is outside the scope of this question/answer; providing a solution here would degrade this answer. If necessary, ask a separate question about renaming it.
  5. "Enforcement can only be conducted at current activity rates." Counter-point: this requires an analysis of how many M-C-U questions are asked on a daily/weekly basis, and community participation. If this is seemingly enforceable "now" due to a low activity level, consider that a higher activity level inherently brings with it more enforcers. Users are alerted when their questions are edited; more aware users will realize that franchise tagging exists; also, there is no true penalty for re-tagging, only the "reward" of reputation through enforcement.
  6. "Joe Public won't recognize the tag name as a franchise." Counter-point: this argument is specific to the less-recognizable tag "M-C-U"; again it speaks to enforcement of rules through rewarded editing, but it also can be solved through creation and application of multiple synonyms to "M-C-U" (e.g. "marvel-franchise") to avoid the accidental creation of false franchise tags.

With the arguments addressed, there's no reason not to say "yes", unless further arguments are brought forth to counter.

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    Regarding point 2), the problem is that it is very intuitive and natural (i.e. for a new user) to tag a question harry-potter or star-wars, while this is a bit "weirder" with marvel-cinematic-universe. And while current activity levels allow for sufficiently supervised retagging, it would be preferable to not have to retag each and every new question. But otherwise interesting points. (And I agree point 4 is utterly irrelevant, as long as the character limits is sufficient, there's no problem with overly long tag names.) – Napoleon Wilson Jul 28 '15 at 15:48
  • Is it "weirder" because m-c-u is not a commonly known franchise term, or because m-c-u is itself unwieldy? Does this speak more to point 4? – JoshDM Jul 28 '15 at 15:49
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    It is weirder because not everyone is aware of the MCU as a bigger cross-movie (or even cross-media) franchise. While it is much more natural to tag it harry-potter when the movie is already named Harry Potter and the Unicorns of Markhaven (and is about a guy named Harry Potter). – Napoleon Wilson Jul 28 '15 at 15:51
  • I'm going to address your comment about activity level within the answer. – JoshDM Jul 28 '15 at 15:52
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    Over time, and especially with the cross-pollenation of characters (as exemplified by the recent Avengers 2 and Ant-Man films) from different franchise entries, more and more viewers become aware of the overall franchise. I think the problem comes with the actual name, and that can be solved through judicious use of synonyms. – JoshDM Jul 28 '15 at 15:58
  • I don't think #1 and #2 are even issues. Tagging isn't the dewey decimal system. It's a folksonomy and (IMHO) enforcement and refactoring don't need high priority. – DA. Jul 29 '15 at 20:19
  • Regarding #4 why not jut marvel as the tag? We're on a movie site so "cinematic universe" seems implied to me. – DA. Jul 29 '15 at 20:20
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    @DA - m-c-u is a related subset of Marvel film continuity of which many Marvel films (X-Men, F4, Ghost Rider, the first Hulk) do not belong or qualify for. – JoshDM Jul 29 '15 at 20:37
  • @JoshDM oh! That makes sense. – DA. Jul 29 '15 at 20:39
  • @DA - I also don't see #1, 2 as issues, but I've experienced enough of these discussions where they have to be explicitly identified and addresses. – JoshDM Jul 30 '15 at 3:36
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    "The current tag "marvel-cinematic-universe" is long and unwieldy!" Tags are allowed to be 25 characters long for a reason. Whining its too long is just whining for whining's sake – cde Aug 27 '15 at 21:37
  • @cde - I agree, but that hasn't stopped others from complaining. – JoshDM Aug 27 '15 at 21:43
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    I wish SciFi would take the same approach to tag rationalization – raphael Dec 2 '16 at 15:29
  • Consider linking my answer to their meta. – JoshDM Dec 2 '16 at 15:31
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My argument for tagging all questions about films and TV series set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe using the tag is based on the fact that people primarily use tags in order to locate questions that they are interested in or may be able to answer.

As per the Help Centre page on tags;

A tag is a word or phrase that describes the topic of the question. Tags are a means of connecting experts with questions they will be able to answer by sorting questions into specific, well-defined categories.

Tags can also be used to help you identify questions that are interesting or relevant to you.

Clicking on a tag below a question brings you to a page that shows all questions within that tag.

And from the site tour;

Tags make it easy to find interesting questions

Personally, when I click on the tag, I want to be able to see any questions related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including questions about the individual films and TV series that are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not just questions relating to the intricacies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The same is true of DC Cinematic Universe that started with Man of Steel, and in my opinion should be consistent for all future cinematic universes - that we treat them as a series of films and TV shows, in the same way that we do the , , and tags.

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    Sorry... I disagree... by your same logic, we'd be tagging every movie with its genre/s. – Catija Jul 27 '15 at 16:14
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    @Catija I disagree. The point of Stack Exchange is to put people with questions in contact with people who can answer those questions, and it is unlikely that someone searching for questions to answer would think that they can answer every question about every action film ever. Whereas with a very well defined series of films and TV shows such as in the MCU, it is entirely possible. – Dr R Dizzle Jul 27 '15 at 16:15
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    The only reason it's possible is that there are significantly fewer films... right now. If the tagging system were better, it wouldn't be an issue but I think it's a waste of space (and leaves room for inconsistency) to have a rule that every question about any film in the MCU be tagged as such, even if it's just about one specific film. Someone who wants to specialize in MCU can just as easily follow the tags for each of the films. – Catija Jul 27 '15 at 16:18
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    @Catija I'm someone who wants to specialise in the MCU, and right now that already means following and checking at least 15 different tags any time I want to see if a new question I might be able to answer has been posted. One universal tag for them all works great, or at least it has been on Sci Fi Stack Exchange which use their marvel-cinematic-universe tag the way I have suggested. – Dr R Dizzle Jul 27 '15 at 16:20
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    We have chosen a different path with some of our tagging decisions, so what works on Sci-Fi doesn't always work here or fit into our tagging scheme. Though we aren't as opposed to meta tags as some communities, having a tag that applies to such a broad group of questions and is inherently implied in the tags already used on those questions (Iron Man impies MCU) makes the MCU a meta tag if used the way you suggest. It adds nothing to the question (other than searchability). – Catija Jul 27 '15 at 16:32
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    @Catija But searchability is the main point of adding tags to questions in the first place, as demonstrated by the quote in my answer. So if all adding a tag to a question is improving is searchability, then the new tag is doing exactly what tags are meant to do. – Dr R Dizzle Jul 27 '15 at 16:34
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    And would you then have us tag every movie with its director's name? Or the principal actors? Someone could certainly specialize in Joss Whedon or Robert Downey Jr. – Catija Jul 27 '15 at 16:45
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    @Catija I think there is a pretty big difference between having a tag for a series of films and TV shows all related by in universe events and characters and are nothing more than one franchise in everything but name. When the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film comes out, would you be averse to people tagging questions about it with the harry-potter tag? What about the Star Wars spin off films announced? The universe is just as important as the film. – Dr R Dizzle Jul 27 '15 at 16:49
  • Hmm, wouldn't have guessed this idea to be that unwelcome. I'm certainly undecided but would have guessed many people to like the "tag everything MCU" approach. Well, maybe they don't like the reasoning. – Napoleon Wilson Jul 27 '15 at 19:48
  • @NapoleonWilson Considering my reasoning is based on the Help Centre and the purpose of tags, I doubt it. Maybe people don't want to have to do the work required to retag all MCU questions? – Dr R Dizzle Jul 27 '15 at 20:07
  • I was looking... honestly, it's only about 150-200 current questions (and that doesn't exclude the 50 or so that are already tagged with the mcu tag. The harder work is upkeep. – Catija Jul 27 '15 at 20:09
  • "my reasoning is based on the Help Centre and the purpose of tags" - That is debatable, though. – Napoleon Wilson Jul 28 '15 at 12:48
  • "And would you then have us tag every movie" = maybe things are different here, but who is 'us' in this sense? I thought tags were mainly just what the user added--occasionally someone may edit them to make them more appropriate. I get the feeling that Movies.SE is trying to set up a very concrete set of rules around tags and then wanting to groom the entire catalog of questions to match these rules. I'm not against that, but it does seem like a daunting and, ultimately, probably futile endeavor if that's the case. Going back to the director tag, is there harm in adding the director of a... – DA. Jul 29 '15 at 20:24
  • ...movie to a question if there's a free tag slot? Maybe that's where I'm misunderstanding the objective here on Movies.se. I don't see the harm in 'extra' tags on a question as long as they are somewhat related. More tags applied to a question seems better than fewer tags. – DA. Jul 29 '15 at 20:25
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    @DA. "who is 'us' in this sense?" - The site's community, of course. "mainly just what the user added" - Uh, no, tagging is not a free for all to be used by everyone just as he deems fit without respecting the site's tagging rules. That is not how tagging works on any SE site. "I get the feeling that Movies.SE is trying to set up a very concrete set of rules around tags and then wanting to groom the entire catalog of questions to match these rules" - Of course, that's what a consistent tagging policy is about. That isn't different from any other SE sites' endeavours... – Napoleon Wilson Jul 30 '15 at 15:08
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I would prefer that we only use the for broader questions about the universe rather than using it as a shortcut to all questions that happen to involve a film in that universe.

In short:

If it's a question about an Iron Man or Thor or Captain America film, let it be a question about or or .

If it's a question about the relationship of one of those characters within the grander scheme of the MCU then it's a question about the .

This is (I think) pretty clearly explained in the MCU Tag Wiki:

Use this tag for questions specifically about the fictional universe in which all films and TV shows independently produced by Marvel Studios take place.

For questions about individual entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, use the correct tag for that work.

What this is saying is that "Marvel Cinematic Universe" isn't actually a subcategory of film that can be added along with the film title, it's a topic that can be discussed on its own. Despite having only tenuous ties between some of the titles, there's clearly a larger concept here that is worth discussing, even without making specific films the topic of the question.

For example, this question:

Why was Ronan/Thanos not interested in the other Infinity Stone in possession of The Collector?

While it does mention specific films, it's really a bigger question about the MCU as an entity and, for that reason, the tags relating to the specific films were removed because the question isn't actually about the films.

If we expand this tag to use as a catch-all for every question involving every film (and TV show) in the MCU, these questions (though there are very few of them at this point) will lose what little real estate they have and the tag they have becomes practically meaningless.

Use this tag for all questions that relate to any of the film or television franchises within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It should be possible to ask a question that relates to the Marvel Cinematic Universe without necessarily having a specific film tag and without worrying about the question getting lost in questions that apply to 28 different titles (and counting) that already have a good defining tag - the film title.

Now, if we want to make a new tag to pop all MCU questions into for easy access, that is a different issue. This tag isn't the solution, though.


I would love to be able to add subcategories to tags. I've even championed it over on SE.Meta. When (hopeful thinking) this becomes possible, I will go bonkers adding subcategories that will make search so easy, everyone will hate it... and it wouldn't mess up the front page because all of the work would be done in redefining the tags, not in retagging the questions.

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    While you bring up some good arguments, the tag wiki argument doesn't really hold for me, since the tag wiki ought to represent the tagging policy, which is what this question actually asks for (chicken-and-egg problem). Neither does the tag wiki really say "for individual movies don't use the tag", it just says "for individual movies use that movie's tag", which are not the same statements from a logical point of view. It doesn't really exclude the use of the MCU tag in addition to the movie tag. – Napoleon Wilson Jul 27 '15 at 20:36

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