Yesterday, I proposed to synonymise and (just like that, without consulting anyone). Afterwards, it's been pointed out to me that collecting the two may not be the best idea, since clearly graphic novels (whatever they are defined as) are somehow different from other comics.

This is not a discussion on what is a graphic novel and what is not. Let's leave that for the main site. My concern is that of practicality and usage in general.

  • The tag will have to have a usage guidance to be applied consistently. What would the usage guidance say (i.e. where do we draw the line between comics and graphic novels)?

    Some works have been named "graphic novels" almost unanimously by readers and critics. Others - not so much. What one considers a graphic novel - others may not (e.g. I call Sunstone a graphic novel, but I haven't heard of other who do so, mainly because it was originally a webcomic).

  • "Attracting experts" - the lists of "top-100 graphic novels" are all pretty much the same, typically starring some or all of the following novels on top: Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Sandman, Saga, Maus, The Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns.

    My point is, when one hears "graphic novels", one expects a certain list of works that have been branded as graphic novels by countless readers and critics. From that perspective, there may be people who only read comics that are graphic novels, and this tag may prove useful to them, especially given that all the questions on this Stack so far have been about graphic novels.

  • Ergonomics - will make search easier? I guess it will, because sometimes people forget to mention that the work in question is a graphic novel (guilty!).

    On the other hand, will it be used with or completely separately? If the former, we have the problem of the tag count - maximum 5. author tag + title tag + comics + graphic novel makes 4, which leaves only 1 tag for or or whatever. And what if the question asks to compare two works? Too many tags.

Those are some of the aspects that I think should be taken into consideration when deciding the course of action.

I see three possible solutions:

  1. Having as a separate tag doesn't do much good - it should be made a synonym of .

  2. Graphic novels deserve their own tag because they're a genuine subculture of comics. should be a separate tag, used without .

  3. Graphic novels deserve their own tag because they're a genuine subculture of comics. should be a separate tag, but used with the tag.

  • Got another one about [manga] coming :D Commented May 22, 2017 at 11:49
  • Option 4 - make [comics] a synonym of [graphic-novel]. I'd suggest just suggesting they be synonyms, and let answers propose which way around they should be synonymised. Commented May 22, 2017 at 14:18
  • @doppelgreener I have no way of influencing the answerers. I showed the three options I see. Whether anyone supports any of them of proposes their own is not up to me. Commented May 22, 2017 at 14:21
  • Option 5: not having a graphics novel tag at all.
    – user111
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 15:37
  • @Hamlet I foresee that it will eventually appear whether we want it or not. Commented May 22, 2017 at 15:38
  • For future reference: no questions had the graphic-novel tag mid December 2017. It probably re-appeared again later, since I found that the tag had an empty tag wiki excerpt in April 2020. At the time when I write this comment, it is no longer in use.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


I foresee that people will use these tags in slightly different ways depending on contextual factors we don't have the power to circumscribe. It's true that there's a difference in the way they're used in practice, but it's not clear what that distinction is, and it's not really feasible for us to divine that in advance of how it's used.

We do, however, have the ability to classify. This isn't a totally satisfying answer, but I propose a fourth option:

  1. We keep both tags, and proscribe little distinguishing usage guidance - for now. At least until we have more to look at.

In order to understand how these tags are eventually used, we need to see... how they're used. Right now, we have one question under , and it overlaps with . It could be the case that in practice there's basically total overlap, but right now... we don't know.

So I think we should wait and see, and revisit this later if we can spot patterns in how they're used in practice.

  • I'm telling you right now that 20 of the 28 [comics] questions will have to receive the [graphic-novel] tag. Regarding the existing one case of its usage - that was me, since the system needed the tag to exist i order to be synonimised with another tag. Commented May 22, 2017 at 17:16
  • 3
    @Gallifreyan If you created it solely to synonymize it, and it didn't originate from an organic question, then we have no idea if this is even a problem. Especially since nobody seems to have worried about adding the tag when asking their question before. My answer would still be to wait and see.
    – user80
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 17:19
  • Alright - does that mean I can slap the tag on all the questions I deem appropriate (20+)? What is the "usage guidance" you propose? This is exactly the sort of question that can be answered before the tag in question starts causing problems. Commented May 22, 2017 at 18:04
  • 3
    I don't think that would really be appropriate, or in the spirit of organically developing community tags. There can't be usage guidance without use cases to look at - guidance is always developed in response to real emergent situations on the site, which this isn't.
    – user80
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 18:31
  • 1
    But that's absurd - if we'd let the community decide everything we'd have a whole bunch of useless tags (see SFF and [its useless tag]gist.github.com/Gallifreian/d8a6b0c40458c40c62001475e9360927)); I waited for someone to use that tag to start this discussion, but no one did, so being apparently the most active [comics] user I decide to ask myself. The cases where this tag could have been used or would be used are clear as day. so it's perfectly possible to have this discussion now and be over with it. Commented May 22, 2017 at 18:36
  • 2
    I don't know how it could both true that use cases are extremely obvious and we need to establish usage guidance. Which is why we need to wait until the tag is actually in use by a variety of people - we can't answer any questions about how it's used right now. Even that aside, why establish usage guidance when there is no usage to guide?
    – user80
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 18:42

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