On chat, Ash, who doesn't have enough reputation to create tags [ yet :) ] pointed out a problem with our tagging system. Given that we use title and author tags, it's hard for new users to ask questions about obscure authors and books, because the tags haven't been created yet.

How can we fix this problem?


How about using one of the [xxx-literature] tags?

First off, it's clear that new users asking questions about books by authors that don't have tags yet are going to have to use some sort of generic tag, rather than the author and work/series tags which they don't have enough rep to create.

  • If the question is about something like or or , all well and good - they can use that tag and ask a higher-rep user to add the author/work tags.
  • If it's about a short story or poem, they can use the or tag, and ask a higher-rep user to add the author tag.
  • If none of the above tags apply, they can still use a country/language tag. Now that we've reached a rough consensus that we should be using, for instance, on all questions even about individual works of Russian literature, these tags provide an easy way in to the tagging system for new users without enough rep to create their own tags.

Thus, if someone asks a question about a long novel by a French author who doesn't have a tag yet, they can use the tag (which the question should have anyway) and wait for someone else to create the author/work tags for them.

It's worth noting that this is what actually happened in the case that motivated this meta post - Ash ended up posting her question with just the tag. So this seems like a practical and workable solution.

What if the relevant tag even for the whole body of literature doesn't exist yet?

I've been generally against using tags such as or , since by default (this being an English-language site) the majority of our questions will fall into these categories. But perhaps we should start using these tags more, precisely so that new users can use them as suggested in this answer.

Also, yes, we don't yet have tags for every language and country. If someone asks a question about Miloš Crnjanski, they'll have even more issues since we don't have a tag yet. But hey, the site is still young - as we grow, and broaden our horizons, these tags will get created. Eventually it'll be hard to find a country, language, or culture which isn't represented somewhere on our site.

  • This works, but it seems wildly inconsistent to me. You're saying that "should this question be tagged american-literature or not?" is question whose answer should be dependent on whether OP was capable of creating author- and title-tags? You're proposing "american-literature" as a dump tag for untagged questions? – Standback Mar 16 '17 at 0:00
  • @Standback ... no. Where did I suggest inconsistent usage of american-literature? I was saying that because this tag is a member of the country/language-based tags which are so useful for users without tag-creation privs asking about new stories, maybe we should start to use it more full stop (i.e. not just as a dumping ground, but in the same way as we're using french-literature and russian-literature). – Rand al'Thor Mar 16 '17 at 0:04
  • Clarifying question: Would you expect that high-rep retaggers, who add the correct title/author tags -- leave the "american-literature" tag in place? Or remove it? – Standback Mar 16 '17 at 0:04
  • @Standback I removed it when retagging Ash's question, because so far we haven't been using the american-literature tag on all questions about American works of literature. In this answer I'm sort of proposing that we start to use it more, analogously to say french-literature, so in that case it would be left in place when retagging. – Rand al'Thor Mar 16 '17 at 0:09
  • OK, so then would you expect to see it used on all American books? – Standback Mar 16 '17 at 0:10
  • I guess I'm not clear on what you mean by "use it more." All American books doesn't make sense to me (and ties up three of the five tags). And for anything less than "all" - what happens when one that wouldn't be tagged thus, is asked about a previously untagged title/author? – Standback Mar 16 '17 at 0:13
  • @Standback That's what I'm suggesting in the penultimate paragraph of this answer, yes. But I'm still a bit leery about that idea - firstly, language-based tags are much easier to define than country-based ones, so english-literature would be better; but then the default assumption on this site is English, so maybe an english-literature tag would be way overused. I could go either way, really. Perhaps I should just remove that paragraph, since it's rather tangential to my main argument. – Rand al'Thor Mar 16 '17 at 0:13
  • I would oppose tagging 90% of the site with "english-literature," and I don't think "prefer to tag your question with xxxx-literature" is a good guideline if 90% of the time that refers to a tag we don't actually want to see. – Standback Mar 16 '17 at 0:17
  • @yannis [victorian-literature] is a country+era tag, not a language tag or even a country tag. I'm generally against country tags because they're less well-defined than language tags (e.g. I think french-literature should be for literature in French, not literature from France), and "Victorian" is even less well-defined. (I also dislike naming periods of history after members of a particular family, but that's another issue.) – Rand al'Thor Mar 17 '17 at 11:57

Use a non-title tag that's specific to their question.

Which we should all endeavor to do anyway.

In an ideal world, every question would have applicable non-title tags, and then there would be no difficulty.

If I were to ask a question about Book X by Author Y, I may not be able to create tags or . But I can still tag the question with something appropriate to the specific question -- be it , or , or , or . Every question is about something, and so ideally, there should be an appropriate tag.

And as for adding title-tags -- there would be no difficulty; other users would easily add them in.

Unfortunately, our tagging system and taxonomy are still in their infancy. I don't think we've established many clear, distinct classes of questions; even if we have some (or soon shall), a new user may have some degree of trouble finding those and figuring out how to tag their question. And the abundance of title- and author-tags muddies the water -- first by making it much less necessary for regular users to develop non-title tags, and second by bloating the tag list, so that many of our top tags are titles and authors.

Nonetheless, this is the system we have, and this is the best answer we can provide at this stage. Every question must be tagged with something; the user will need to find something appropriate. We all need to be aware of this, and make sure we don't "settle" for using only title-tags and author-tags, and put in effort to develop our taxonomy.

  • I like this, but have posted my own answer with a more specific suggestion as to what kind of general tag might be most commonly used. After all, many questions aren't about inspiration, or history of literature, or symbolism, or anything else that already has a general tag ... but what we do have a rough consensus on using everywhere is country/language tags. – Rand al'Thor Mar 15 '17 at 14:19

In the absence of a dedicated tag for that particular book/author, the user should use tags describing the content of the question, rather than which book is being asked about: , , , etc.

Tagging here is not really important as long as the question is clear and it is easy to understand what is being asked. Our traffic is low for now and our users are vigilant enough to be able to look at all new questions; therefore, it is not at all a problem to have tags edited.

If the asker wants a specific tag applied, they could add a disclaimer to the end of the question:

Please create a tag for Stjepan Sejic and his series called "Ravine"

Then a 300 rep (or whatever) user would create the tag and delete the disclaimer. Easy!

  • 1
    Ah, my apologies. I thought you meant that we have some tags that are "generic" in the sense of "not very specific-" -- like "symbolism," which is pretty vague. – Standback Mar 15 '17 at 11:33
  • @Standback your edit makes it much better, thanks! – Gallifreyan Mar 15 '17 at 11:36
  • But what if the question isn't about inspiration, or history of literature, or symbolism, or anything else that already has a general tag? Lots of our questions are tagged with author, work, and nothing else. But what we do have a rough consensus on using everywhere is country/language tags ... see my answer. – Rand al'Thor Mar 15 '17 at 14:16

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