I just put up a question about a relatively obscure branch of literature study, philology. It didn't have a tag and I have the rep to make one, so I did. However I was unsatisfied by some of the other tags available but wasn't so sure they were needed/relevant - so I thought I'd ask the community.

Philology is a combination of linguistics, literature and history. I used the tag for the question but I'm not really sure that it's correct. Actual tags for "linguistics", "history" or even "language" seem more meaningful but they're obviously different, yet related, academic disciplines.

I would argue they were relevant as stand-alone tags because the subjects are closely allied with the study of literature. It's often hard to properly understand a text without knowledge of history or language, so it seems reasonable to think questions focused on these more specialist areas would be relevant in the future.

The other thing I wanted was some sort of "academia" tag. This is more vague and I'd be far more understanding of its rejection. But it struck me that while we're aiming at an "expert" standard, we do have a tiny minority of questions that ask about fairly obscure streams of academic study which a general reader, however dedicated, may never have heard of. Philology is one. Others are literary theory and intertextuality.

Is it worth having some sort of meta-tag for these high-level questions? Or should they stay simply tagged with the name of their relevant specialty?


2 Answers 2


One common argument for creating a tag is for the sake of those who will come to the site and may be an expert - or at least interested - in a certain subject. This criterion has been brought up before, in that case when considering whether individual author tags are appropriate. I definitely support this viewpoint; searchability and organization are the major benefits of the tagging system. We've used this logic on Literature in the past, and it seems to work.

Applying this to the present case: Yes, I assume that if you have someone well-trained or interested in philology, for instance, a tag will be extremely helpful for them. I do hope that future visitors find the tag (and others like it) helpful; if not, then we can perhaps rethink it. For now, though, there's at least one case where it would be useful, and I think it would be worth starting it.

The same argument - in my opinion - holds for the other relevant tags, and . So long as the community feels these questions are on-topic, if they indeed do, then I see no problem with using these tags, as well as similar others in the future.

The other point you bring up is one of meta tags. Here at Stack Exchange, we hate fun meta tags. As that blog post states,

From this point on, meta-tagging is explicitly discouraged.

That doesn't mean that you can't do it. On Worldbuilding, we've flat-out flouted the rules with three tags: , , and . I like to think that they've worked, on the whole, and I've fought for for almost two years now. It has made a difference.

However, I don't always support meta tags. I supported because it addressed a major problem, namely, a lack of rigor in many answers which ended up disappointing a decent amount of people. So we consciously took action. There are still a few bugs in the system, to quote Garry Trudeau, but on the whole, things are good.

The tag is different. We don't have a huge expert contingent, true, but creating a tag won't change that. At the same time, having the tag will - and I mean will, because it's happened occasionally with the tag - discourage people from posting high-quality answers on questions which don't use the tag. If you use it too much, folks start to think that any questions which doesn't have the tag shouldn't get really high-level explanations. And that's often flat-out not true.

So, in summary:

  • Thanks for your answer, but it seems didn't make myself quite clear: in addition to the great feedback you're providing, I was also asking whether we could use tags for other disciplines such as "linguistics" and "history"
    – Matt Thrower Mod
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 11:22
  • @MattThrowerThank you. Edited.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 18:36

Yes, we should have such tags when a question is about the discipline or field itself. This is what tags are for.

Yes, we should have a meta tag for high-level questions to more easily allow experts to focus in on those questions. This could be a tag such as , similar to the opposite of M.SE's .

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