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We currently have tags for a few authors (or groups of authors) that wrote under pseudonyms, such as and . In the case of Snicket, the author has written other works under his real name, Daniel Handler. The same holds true for many other authors, including some who wrote under many different pen names (such as Robert Jordan).

How should we deal with tagging in all cases where an author used a pseudonym? Should their real name (if it is not as well known) be used as a synonym, or should they be separate? What about cases where an author used multiple pen names?

Current tags that may be affected:

I suspect we may see more cases in the future.

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    Respect the author's wishes and treat pseudonym as real author name. Expand on real name in Wiki tag and link to tag for real author name if exists. – DVK Feb 9 '17 at 15:09
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    @DVK : Some authors use multiple pseudonyms, such as Margaret Ogden AKA Megan Lindholm AKA Robin Hobb. ...which is not an objection, just an observation on how very inconvenient some uppity authors can be for SE sites :P – Standback Feb 9 '17 at 15:35
  • @Standback - I don't see any problem that such an author would raise for the approach I suggested, to be honest. – DVK Feb 9 '17 at 16:06
  • I have posted a question in order to make this as difficult as possible :P – Standback Feb 9 '17 at 16:06
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    @DVK : Ah! I think I misunderstood your suggestion. I thought you meant to use only the pesudonym as a tag. But you meant the author gets as many tags as they have names. That sounds good to me. :) – Standback Feb 9 '17 at 16:09
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    Also: saki. – muru Feb 9 '17 at 16:17
  • Damn, I was planning to make a meta post about this exact issue! +1 :-) – Rand al'Thor Mod Feb 9 '17 at 23:39
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My first instinct was to make them synonyms. However, I then read DVK's comment (quoted below), and I now think that is not the correct course of action.

Respect the author's wishes and treat pseudonym as real author name. Expand on real name in Wiki tag and link to tag for real author name if exists.

A decent amount of people using this site in the future probably won't know that an author's name might be a pseudonym, so when they type it in and see it forcing them to use the real name, they might be confused.

If we instead let them use the pseudonym and in the tag wiki link to the other tags, I think we're doing a good job of documenting the connections while allowing the tags to be used naturally.

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    again, this is a problem that we could easily solve if we could have nested tags... – DForck42 Feb 9 '17 at 15:53
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    "A decent amount of people using this site in the future probably won't know that an author's name might be a pseudonym, so when they type it in and see it forcing them to use the real name, they might be confused." That confusion could be avoided if we include a reference to the pseudonym in the tag wiki. – user111 Feb 9 '17 at 21:01
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Whether one should use a pseudonym or an author's real name depends on how that author's pseudonym or pseudonym's were used and/or under what name the relevant works were later republished.

  • If the author published exclusively under that pseudonym and their works continue to be republished under that pseudonym, use that pseudonym.
    Examples:
    • Charles Lutwidge Dodgson published his fictional works under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. These works are still being republished under that pseudonym. In addition, biographies and editions of the author's letters also refer to Lewis Carroll in the title. What's more, even Dodgson's non-fiction, which was originally published under his real name, may be republished or discussed under the pen name, e.g. Lewis Carroll's Symbolic Logic (Crown, 1986) and A Mathematical Approach to Proportional Representation: Duncan Black on Lewis Carroll (Springer, 2012). For this reason, as the main tag makes perfect sense; creating seems entirely optional.
    • Mary Ann Evans published her works using the male pseudonym George Eliot; this is still the name under which these novels are republished today. For this reason, is the preferred tag.
    • Samuel Langhorne Clemens is much better name by his pen name Mark Twain, so should be the main tag for this author.
    • Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin published her works using the male pseudonym George Sand and this is still the name under which the author is best known. For this case, the tag would be most appropriate.
    • Zhou Shuren published his works under the pen name Lu Xun and this is still how this author is best known. Hence the tag .
    • The Flemish author Alphonsus Josephus de Ridder published his works under the pseudonym Willem Elsschot and his works continue to be republished under that pseudonym. Hence, would be the appropriate tag.
  • If the author used a pseudonym but their works are republished under the author's real name, use the real name.
    Examples:
    • Charlotte, Anne and Emily Brontë published their novels under the male pseudonyms Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell, respectively. Today, nobody refers to these authors by their male pseudonyms, so real names should be used for the author tags.
    • François Rabelais published some of the novels around Gargantua and Pantagruel under his real name and some others using the anagram Alcofribas Nasier. He used the pseudonym Seraphino Calbarsy for some of his other works. His works are now consistently republished under his real name, so the preferred tag is ; a tag for the anagram even seems redundant in this case.
    • The French author Romain Gary had already published several novels under his real name when he decided to adopt a different style and the pseudonym Émile Ajar (see La Vie devant soi). He wanted to see whether readers would be able to guess who the real author of his new work was. The novel was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1975; this prize can be awarded only once to the same author and Gary had already won that prize in 1956. Since the author's death in 1980, the novel has been republished under the author's real name, often with "Émile Ajar" added in parentheses. In this case, would be the appropriate author tag for La vie devant soi / The Life Before Us.
    • Agatha Christie published several novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, e.g. Giant's Bread and Absent in the Spring. These are now republished under the author's real name, possibly mentioning "Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott" on the cover. For these novels is the appropriate tag; can at best be a synonym.
    • J. K. Rowling published a few books under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The pseudonym was quickly blown and on Amazon.com the Robert Galbraith novels show Rowling's picture in the author information. Copies of the Cormoran Strike novels that are currently in circulation don't necessarily mention that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym of J. K. Rowling. For this reason, it makes sense to create as a synonym of .

In short, use the name under which the author is best known. The other names can still be used for tag synonyms.

This is also consistent with, for example, tagging Shakespeare plays with even for plays that were originally published anonymously.

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  • Just to be sure I understand: we would have a j-k-rowling tag and robert-galbraith would be a tag synonym, since she is better known as the former? – verbose Apr 18 at 7:53
  • @verbose Apparently, "everybody" now knows that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym of J. K. Rowling, so I would use the former as a tag synonym for the latter. – Tsundoku Mod Apr 18 at 20:16
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I think we should make pseudonyms synonyms of author's real names. If I'm an expert in Stephen King, when I click on the Stephen King tag, I want to see all the questions about Stephen King; I don't want to also have to open a new tab to see questions about Richard Bachman. And I don't think we need to worry about "respecting the author's wishes" as DVK argues; if we know that an author's name is a pseudonym, then that pseudonym is common knowledge.

Just to drive home how absurd the policy of using pseudonyms for tag names is, here's a question that compares several works written by the same author. The problem: some of these works were published under one name, and the rest were published under another. The question is tagged with the author's real name and the author's pseudonym, which makes no sense: both tags are referring to the same thing.

While it seems like the community overwhelming agrees with DForck42's answer, I think we're making a big mistake here. I respectfully urge everyone to reconsider their votes.


Just to clarify how a tag synonym works. Let's imagine that I'm writing a question about Richard Bachman. If I tag a question with the Richard Bachman tag, the system will automatically replace the Richard Bachman tag with the Stephen King tag. It's very simple; no need to remember anything.

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    Sorry, -1: I don't want to have to remember Mark Twain's or Robert Jordan's real names in order to find questions about their works. – Rand al'Thor Mod Feb 9 '17 at 23:38
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    @Randal'Thor you don't have to remember their real names: that's how the tag synonym feature works. – user111 Feb 10 '17 at 0:08
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    The ambiguity might be in the other direction, though. Would it be reasonable to be interested specifically in King's work as Richard Bachman? Is that a reasonable enough interest to merit a tag? – Standback Feb 10 '17 at 7:46
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    @Standback I feel like that's a much smaller and much less important use case. – user111 Feb 10 '17 at 15:08

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