We had a question earlier about the tags and . While that issue has now been resolved by Robert Cartaino, I thought it'd be worth trying to establish a consensus for some more general conventions on tag naming.

When the name of a work begins with an article ("the", "a", or "an"), should we include the article in the name of the tag for that work?

On the one hand, the article would lengthen the tag name without adding anything to the meaning. On the other hand, it might be nice to use the 'official' name of the work.

Any more pros and cons?

Assume that including the articles won't make the tag go over the 25-character limit. We can't use , because it's too long; that decision isn't in our hands.

  • 1
    I say yes just for pedantry...
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 17:56
  • @Mithrandir Pedantry is always something I can get behind!
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 17:57
  • Side note: I never remember whether it's A Winter's Tale or The Winter's Tale. Better find out before asking a question about that play, if we decide to include articles!
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 19:16
  • I'd include them, just for ease of searching
    – Penguin9
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 14:44

3 Answers 3


Be consistent. Use the full tag name where practical

The reason to use the full title as a tag (where practical) is that's how (some) people are going to search/enter it.

If the tag does not include the full title (for example, lord-of-the-rings shortened for convenience), when people type out the full name, the-lord-of-the-rings, they are not going to find it. You are only creating a maintenance issue when folks think they are creating a new tag.

But if you err with using the proper title, the tag will come up even if they enter the shorter version:


Being consistent also makes the site generally easier to use. Following a consistent naming convention will help users anticipate what the tag would likely be (assuming it exists at all).

  • 2
    Ah, that makes sense. (And is probably why we ended up with two LotR tags in the first place.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 19:15
  • I don't think you are right there. Typing wind-in brings up the-wind-in-the-willows in tag search.
    – Mick
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 19:16
  • 5
    @Mick Yes, but typing the-wind-in wouldn't bring up wind-in-the-willows in a tag search.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 19:17
  • @Randal'Thor Ah! That's true.
    – Mick
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 19:18
  • @robert - is there any chance we can get a comment from SE on feasibility of tag *archy? This site could benefit from it greatly, and it would resolve about 60 to 70% of most tag disputes conclusively if done right, in my experience.
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 20:07
  • 1
    @DVK I can't speak for the devs, but I suspect the chances of this happening are near-zero for reasons at least partially covered in the top answer. Tags do not lend themselves to hierarchies without significant complications and drawbacks. Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 20:12
  • 1
    @RobertCartaino - top answer is a very unfortunate, successful fight against a complete strawman. Proposal: "some tags have a hierarchy. Most tags won't". Response: "Look at all those tags that aren't good for hierarchy!". Well duh, yes, I agree most of the counterexamples aren't good for hierarchy, and they weren't meant to be in one in the proposal. That's why the proposal said most tags wouldn't be. Hierarchy is only meant for unambiguous, full subsets (Voldemort=>Harry Potter. Byron=>romantic-poetry. JFC=>java).
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 20:41

Omit them where possible

I don't see anything wrong in tagging "The Lord of the Rings" as lord-of-the-rings. For one thing, this is fairly common practice, and also, it helps to shorten long titles where possible. However, I wouldn't want to see "The Prestige" tagged as prestige, since the meaning becomes ambiguous. In such cases, we need the full title, i.e. the-prestige, especially since tag names are all lower case. Where there can be little cause for confusion, e.g. pickwick-papers, then dropping the leading article would be workable, and perhaps preferable.

If we decide to drop leading articles in some cases, and retain them in others, then we are inevitably going to have edge cases. For example, do we use suitable-boy or a-suitable-boy? I was unsure before I typed them, but I think that suitable-boy is clearer.

In any case, what will inevitably cause us problems is the 25-character limit on tag names. If we take a strict approach and retain complete titles, we will simply encounter the hard limit more often.



We should not use "the", "a" or "an" as the first word in our tag titles for the same reason it is not used in any cataloging system... alphabetical ordering. There would simply be too many entries starting with that word, and at the end of the day it has descriptive bearing on the title/tag.

*I say this is the standard we should follow, and have possible rare exceptions if for some reason leading with an article is critical...

  • 1
    Ahh, this is a consideration I hadn't thought of. How much does alphabetical ordering matter for this site though? There is a way to order tags alphabetically, but how many people ever use it?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 18:32
  • True, and looking at SFF, there seems to no convention there either. (I use SFF as an example because it deals with many title tags as well). I would argue that a "Yes" answer needs to be added to this question, just to see where popular opinion lies.
    – Skooba
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 18:37
  • For reference, I believe Movies & TV always uses articles in tag names. (I couldn't find a meta discussion about it there, but perhaps someone more familiar with that site can point us to one.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 18:39
  • 3
    I am mainly basing my answer that in the old catalogs "The Lord of the Rings" would be filed as "Lord of the Rings, The".
    – Skooba
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 18:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .