The use of tags on Gaming.SE seems fairly apart from other sites. Dozens of the tags are meta and essentially useless for someone to follow and be an expert in. Aside from some specific cases, knowing a game involves most aspects of it (not just , not just its , etc.).

and are purely meta, though I don't understand why there needs to be two tags when one (is supposed to) mean the title is a spoiler, while the latter means only the question body is a spoiler.

Other meta tags seem wholly pointless, like , , , , . The only valid(?) use might be when attached with .

Even more seem extremely specialized, and the questions they're on are so dissonant:, , (e.g. shouldn't Minecraft mods be tagged or the like?), ...

So, what are the tag rules here? Are there any illusions that we use them consistently with other Stack Exchange sites? I figure it doesn't really matter so long as there are consistent, well reasoned rules governing tag use.

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[plot] doesn't necessarily indicate a spoiler as much as "This question is about a game's plot, as opposed to the gameplay". –  Grace Note Apr 17 '11 at 16:13
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@Grace, the tag-wiki for [spoiler] reads "If you are asking for spoilers about a game's plot, you should consider using the [plot] tag instead." –  Nick T Apr 17 '11 at 16:33
    
Not as to mean that "plot" means spoilers, but that you don't use the "spoiler" tag in that instance. The spoiler tag's usage is also a debated policy in the first place, but looking at the actual utility of the "plot" tag shows that it's pretty much just for any question about game plot. Most of it naturally will mean spoilers, but it isn't restricted to it. –  Grace Note Apr 17 '11 at 16:56
    
"Anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails." wiki Gaming.SE is the 'more challenging application'. –  Steve V. Jan 20 '12 at 19:00
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3 Answers

This is mostly an extension of badp's answer, in so much that it highlights our lack of real tagging capability. However, it's a bit too long for comments. I'd also like to point some attention to previous posts on tagging practices, discussing some parts of this issue.

In other subject matter, there are lots of terms that are both mostly universal to the topic, and which actually make some substance to ask questions about. You can work with strings or sorting in Stack Overflow, collision detection or audio in Game Development, meat or frying on Seasoned Advice, etc. You can often have one tag that represents the super subject (language in Stack Overflow or Game Development, food type in Seasoned Advice), then consequent tags work to narrow down within that.

The luxury is not nearly as present in the field of Gaming. Once you get past the super subject (the game), there aren't many topical items that are both universal to Gaming as a whole, and which make substance for questions.

There are lots of things which can be found as universal in meaning to Gaming. Double-jump mechanics, hitboxes, triangle jumping, hitstun, critical hits, post-damage invulnerability, falling damage... there's a lot that gamers are familiar with that are carried across all games. They're also things that don't make for very interesting or sought-after questions. There's just not much interesting to ask about when it comes to double-jumping or post-damage invulnerability. Except for exotic terms like Kiting, which only exist to this site in order to be asked what they are. This affects a large fraction of universal gaming terminology that would make effective tags in the Stack Exchange sense.

Then there are a lot of concepts which do make for interesting questions. How bunkers work, doing a barrel roll, the function of a scout... you can find some interesting things to ask about. The problem is the lack of universal application. The definitions of all of the bolded terms vary so much between games that the tag, as far as how tags in Stack Exchange work, loses all meaning. Tags don't mean "everything that is called this", but reference a super concept. Other sites that deal with gaming material usually handle this by adding qualifiers on the tag (so, scout becomes scout_(team_fortress_2), for example). We don't have the tag length to reasonably permit that practice, which makes it pretty much folly to use many tags like that. And, consequently, the large fraction of subjects which our questions do deal with fall under this category.

We aren't completely absent of usable sub tags. Weapons, random drops, minimaps, achievements, invincibility frames... all of these terms do carry both a universal meaning to gamers, as well as make for interesting questions. They're just... not that prevalent in questions, it seems. As such, even though we try to follow the normal practices of Stack Exchange for tagging, it's not readily visible.


Ultimately, the basic tag rules that I most often use, and which I encourage, are the following. I do admit to having broken the platform on a few occasions when it came to a platform exclusive game.

  • Tag the game, if you're asking about a specific game.
  • Tag the aspects of the game which you are asking about, if possible (, , , etc.).
  • Tag the platform if your question is specifically about one platform, or about one platform's exclusive features for a game.
  • Tag the genre if your question is specifically about that genre.
  • Try to avoid tags that are ambiguous (many of us work on disambiguating various tags).
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Re scout_(team_fortress_2), Even if we had enough tag length, I really despise that kind of "abuse" of tag names. :) –  badp Apr 17 '11 at 21:25
    
@fail Eh, it's not something I would use on Stack Exchange, ever, but in other systems when one has to deal with tagging 6+ characters who have exactly the same name (surname included, though the problematic ones are the ones who don't get surnames), it is the kind of thing necessary at times. –  Grace Note Apr 17 '11 at 21:29
    
That kind of system is begging for proper hierarchical tagging :) parentTagId –  badp Apr 18 '11 at 5:30
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I agree with most of your points, but I would take issue that game genre tags are purely meta-tags.

A meta-tag is something that can't stand on its own: I interpret that to be a tag that no reasonable person would follow. Nobody is interested in answering or browsing all questions, but people are interested in Minecraft, StarCraft, etc. mods; nobody seriously cares about all games, but they might be interested in specific online games like MMORPGs.

But genres are different, especially in gaming: people are interested in following questions about RPGs, or RTS games, or FPS games. There's a high amount of synergy and overlap between games of the same genre: a bunny hop means the same thing in Quake that it does in Unreal Tournament, experience means the same thing in Final Fantasy as it does in Dragon Age, and so on.

This overlap between games of a the same genre generally makes all games within said genre interesting. For example, by virtue of the question being about an RPG, it's highly likely a) I've played it and b) I can provide an answer. The same about people with FPS games: if you're a Half Life fan, you've probably played and enjoyed Counter Strike, Team Fortress 2, and a host of other FPS games enough to find questions about most FPS games interesting, useful, and possibly even answerable.

So there's a definite use case to follow all games within a genre, so genre tags ought not to be considered meta-tags in the same way that or are.

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The problem is that genre tags as well as platform tags are difficult to properly apply for the methods desired that you indicate in your post. See here and here. Going forward, the continued usage of them alongside gameplay questions is mostly an artifact of old attempts to adhere to this practice. –  Grace Note Apr 17 '11 at 15:16
    
@Grace Note I don't mean the value is in generic questions about the genre (although that would be a valid usage), I mean its value is in being able to follow questions about all games in a genre: if I'm interested in RPGs, I follow the RPG tag instead of the dragon-age-origins tag, final-fantasy-xiii tag, lunar-silver-story tag, chrono-trigger tag, etc. People follow gaming genres: by virtue of the question being about an RPG, it's highly likely a) I've played it and b) I can provide an answer. The same about people with FPS games. –  user3389 Apr 17 '11 at 19:31
    
That's what I'm exactly talking about in those links - that value (the one you desire) is the one that is difficult to apply, for two reasons. One, because we don't tag every Dragon Age, Final Fantasy, Lunar, etc. with the appropriate genre tag (and lack any form of automating the process), two because the tag limit makes it unreasonable to handle that alongside the platforms and actual categorical tags. It'd be great if we could use them like that. But under the current system, it's a futile endeavor, thus primarily relegating the tags towards questions about the genres themselves –  Grace Note Apr 17 '11 at 19:48
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The problem is not the excess in meta-tagging,it's the lack of real tags. Games have often very little in common, making pretty much all non-game tags meta. Sure, some may have corner cases of application ( for obsessive compulsive completionists, e.g.), but that's it. It's not by chance that we have a feature request to distinguish game tags from the rest (by oak no less.)

On the spoilers remark: not all spoilers are about plot, some other game mechanics, and particularly boss fights are spoilery too; that's why they have their ad-hoc, more specific tags.

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