We've had a couple of discussions about these tags already:
Consensus in both cases was to keep the tags, but much of the reason boiled down to "it's not bad enough to get rid of", and nobody really addressed the issue of redundancy - if a question is already tagged with the name of a particular poem or short story, why does it need the general tag too?
I propose a default of NOT creating tags for individual short works.
This relates to the discussion at Should we be tagging questions with the names of specific books?, but the answers there are a very mixed bag, presenting a lot of different views and with no clear consensus, while the actual practice on the site has been to use tags for specific books all the time. Here are some of the reasons why I think my more specific proposal won't be so controversial:
- Shorter works are less likely to be areas of specialist interest. It's possible to be an expert in the Wheel of Time series, or in Animal Farm - even without having read other books by the same author - but it's much less likely anyone is going to be an expert in a single Byron poem or a single Asimov short story, without having experience of a wider collection of them.
- Shorter works are more numerous with fewer questions each. A long novel or play will have more complexity and be more likely to inspire questions than a short story or poem, and a single author is unlikely to have too many lengthy works to their name. But it's easy for one person to churn out hundreds of poems and short stories, and hundreds of low-use tags isn't ideal.
- This proposal would resolve the redundancy issue. Using tags for both individual short works and for poems/short stories as a whole, as currently, leads to tagging redundancies, and with only 5 slots we need all the room we can get for tags. Keeping the poetry and short-stories tags (per previous consensus) and getting rid of individual-work tags of this type eliminates this problem.
Using the poetry and short-stories tags instead of individual-work tags will mean these two are likely to be among our top few tags. But hey, that's already the case. And that's fine: broad but still useful tags such as these give a good impression of a site covering a wide range of topics, better than the top of the list being just whichever author/work tags happen to get the most questions.
TL;DR: here's my suggested tagging guidance.
- For questions about long works - whether novels, series, or lengthy poems like the Iliad or Mahabharata - use author and work tags, as we've already been doing. These works are likely to inspire more questions, and to be searched for as a specific area of interest. (Collections of short works, e.g. William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, may also count here.)
- For questions about short works, use the author tag with poetry or short-stories. New users will be able to tag their questions appropriately even if there've been no previous questions about precisely the same work, and we won't be overrun by thousands of overly specific tags. (Tags for specific, perhaps especially noteworthy, short works are optional but not encouraged.)
The line between short and long works isn't fully defined, but it's still a line worth drawing, and clear enough to base a policy on. We can use common sense for anything in the grey area (I'd err on the side of creating tags if there's any dispute, since more tags in the system don't really harm anyone).
What do you think?