It turns out we have a tag. This is a bit of a problem. As KRyan put it in a comment:

time seems a bit overloaded to me, since it can refer to both in-game time (how to measure it, how to track it, how long things take, etc. etc.) as well as out-of-game time (limited play time, speeding up play, etc. etc.).

I agree. Time isn't something we can be experts on, and this tag gets used for lore time, game time, and just anything regarding the general passage of time in any subject. This tag's burnination-worthy.

(I'm presuming there'll be no strong objection to the notion we should burninate it — by all means, if you have such objection, please voice it!)

Before it gets burninated, however, we should take a look at whether certain groups of questions in it might benefit from a more topically specific time-related tag. [Short-sessions] or [session-time] or so on could apply, from a glance, but I'm not in a good position to do a deep analysis right now.

Are there any tags we would benefit from applying to certain groups of questions before we remove that tag?

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    \$\begingroup\$ A [time-management] tag might be more useful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2016 at 11:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Certainly seems like a potential useful one. Are there questions in there about time management it should apply to? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2016 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ It just seems like that's what's meant whenever someone asks How can I make [RPG event at the table] go faster? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2016 at 14:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, [time-management] will have the same problem as [time]. It could easily be about tracking and adjudicating in-game time periods. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 22:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ A while back, there was a question on how in-game time relates to out-of-game time (rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/21461/…) to which a reasonable answer was "it's like time in a move; Sometimes an event that takes a lot of real-world time takes very little in-fiction time and vice versa." How should that question be tagged? (It doesn't currently have the time tag, but maybe it should have whatever replaces it?) \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 23:50

4 Answers 4


I don't see any reason for burnination — burnination is for tags that are causing problems, and there's no apparent problem the tag is causing.

The tag might need splitting, but it needs to be shown that it's needed first. A point of order, a point of perspective, and a practical concern first:

  • A point of order. Tags aren't for subjects we can be experts in. They are for categorising questions by what they are about, so that they can be more easily found.

    One reason we want them to be more easily findable is so that experts can focus on subjects they are interested in, but other reasons include being able to more easily search by subject or combinations of subject, being able to browse by subject, and being able to exclude questions types one isn't interested in. A tag only has to be useful to some of those to be worthwhile. It is not necessary for a tag to be about something we can be experts in for a tag to be worthwhile.

  • A point of perspective. The tag is five years old, yet only has 44 questions in it. That's less than a question a month, over five years.

    Part of the reason that it has remained undifferentiated is for the same reason that for ages we only had one tag for all five (then six, then seven) editions: multiple even tinier tags weren't needed or useful for slicing up our question database efficiently. Traveller games got more tags recently because suddenly there was an influx of questions about two new editions and the original edition, and it became expedient to have multiple tags.

    The tag may be in need of splitting, but there should be a positive argument for doing so that is now relevant, and that wasn't five, four, etc. years ago. That it could be split isn't a sufficient reason to split it — splitting it should serve a need that has been identified in our question base, or from our askers and answerers.

    Also, being a tiny tag currently, there are two ways a tag split could go: it could make the new tags even more obscure and less used, or it could make the new tags more visible and more frequently used. A proposal to split a tiny tag like should give some consideration to whether it will improve spontaneous tagging or impair it.

    This might sound like a “no don't do that!” point. However, if even just “insiders” would use new split tags more, that can be plenty improvement. Even just the expectation of improvement can justify a split — there's no need to prove it beforehand. The point is that the benefit of splitting does need to be considered. Categorical purity isn't by itself a benefit in a folksonomy.

  • A point of practicality. The low number of questions in the tag make its ambiguity not an (obvious?) problem currently — it's easy to search within the tag and quickly find what you're looking for, which reduces the practical gains of replacing it with two more specific tags.

So to sum, I've been poking at and thinking about this tag for a while. I've been deliberately increasing its use where I can see its application to a question, and yet it's still a very low-use tag. I've considered its ambiguity, and I'm not one to shrink from making changes to tags when I see an advantage, but I hadn't (so far) seen advantage in this case for making two even smaller tags.

That then is the background and context of the current tag, as the top answerer in the tag, and (probably?) the top tagger of the tag. If someone sees advantage in splitting it, that would be great to hear! But that it could be split is a poor reason, and if done without forethought can just result in two tags that are used even less, and give us less organic tags and messier tagging without benefit.

If it was to be split, I think and would make sense to me. They feel a bit stilted to me, but they're nicely clear. Slightly less stilted might be and .

I don't think should be pressed into service to have either meaning though: pacing is a technical term relating to the creation of specific human-perceptual/psychological experiences of the flow of story events and other structural elements (beats, scenes, rising and falling action, or however one subdivides and quantifies them) and stands on its own as a subject and technique. Pacing is larger than time: it uses time, but time is not all it is and isn't even its most important part. (It's akin to comedic timing this way, which is also its own thing.) Even if it were pressed into service to mean , it would remain ambiguous: does pacing more obviously mean within the game, or within real time? (Spoiler: It's neither, since it lies on the interface between in-game reality and out-of-game dramatic timing.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think [time] needs to be split. I was imagining we'd remove it entirely and maybe come up with one or two other tags for like, five or ten things tops, most questions just outright losing the tag with no replacement. It's just not a useful tag for categorization. On a personal note I'm not sure a real life vs ingame split makes much more sense or usefulness. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 2:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener We don't just… remove tags from the site for no reason though. Burnination is for eliminating a tag that is causing a problem. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 2:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's also for tags that are just poor quality, like when random got burninated. It wasn't a problem, it just wasn't a good tag. Tag curation (and pruning) doesn't need things to be broken first, just requires us to actively maintain the quality bar. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 3:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener “Has no use and just adds to noise to the site” is a legit problem that [random] suffered from, since it was mostly/only used with other tags that made it redundant. I don't see an analogy with [time], which is labelling something in questions that other tags aren't. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 3:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, but it's not a useful tag to label with, or a useful thing to label in and of itself. Sure, the question concerns time in some manner, but that's used vaguely enough to be useless. (Contrast movement where it's almost always about movement rules, which is something that specifically exists.) I consider it to be only marginally more useful than random, and opened this to invite those specific other opportunities for tagging. (And I appreciate the contribution, even if I disagree with the usefulness of the proposed split.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 3:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I'd agree that, were it to go, it would have to be replaced by more specific tags, else we'd be losing tag representation of a core part of the questions. But that's also why I point out that it's a tiny tag: the energy needed to figure out perfect tags is potentially a waste of energy for such a tiny set of questions, and the more specific the tag, the more popular it needs to be to be consistently useful. For very small use-cases (such as this), tags are actually better off more general than more specific, to avoid getting forgotten and disused. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 3:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I looked up your claim that tags are only burninated when they're creating a problem, and found no such actual policy. For example, the glossary points to this explanation just says it's used to remove bad tags. The tag's bad. If we're really meant to wait on anything exemplary (legitimate problems for example) could you point to whatever source explains that? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 8:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I guess I'm saying that bad = causes problems… but that's not super-important I guess. What I'm saying is I don't see anything so far saying that [time] is actually bad. The reason given in the OP is twofold: that it's something that we can't be expert on — but that's not a reason to get rid of a tag — and that it's ambiguous — which is also not a reason to get rid of a tag. Pointing out that the reason given is inadequate to support the action proposed is the majority of my answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, thanks for clarifying. I understand your reply a bit better now. I don't think it's accurate to treat "the tag is causing problems" as implicitly equal to "the tag is bad" - that would be the tag has its own problems, which it does. The RAW tag has caused problems for some people (which we've talked about to great extent on meta). The [rules] tag never caused problems, it was just not useful to have. Your opening statement effectively asserts something that just isn't the case. Meanwhile, huge levels of ambiguity reduce any meaning in a tag's usefulness for meaningful(!) categorisation. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 23:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener By what criteria do you decide that a tag is bad, if not by the problems it causes? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 23:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe Tags don't ever tend to cause problems at all. [rules], [mechanics], [random] and [gm] are tags we've burninated or heavily trimmed back not because they were causing problems, but because they were used + defined so broadly the tag was ineffective for categorisation, expert connection, or saying anything meaningful about the question. Those are the criteria by which we decide tag badness. I'm genuinely miffed by "it's not causing problems" coming up - that's beside the point, they rarely do, that's not our measure. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 0:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener How are those not problems? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 1:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe So they are problems then I guess? I tend to see problems as things like "actively making the site worse" rather than "some editing we need to do to make it better." \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 1:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener You consider something bad if it is merely not as good as it could potentially be? (I'm sorry if I'm wrong, I'm still struggling to understand what your 'bad tag' criteria are.) \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 6:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe No struggle necessary. Go read the question. I explained why I thought it was bad there and quoted someone else also explaining. It's covering too many things. It isn't categorising effectively. Since it's bad, it's a possible area of improvement. However I wouldn't classify it as "causing problems" but if you consider the stuff I've been saying to count as that then sure, maybe it is causing problems, I just wouldn't think of it in those terms or consider those terms relevant. Anyway I've got some thinking to do re: SSD's answer above now that I've given it another pass of reading. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 9:44

Don't fix what isn't broken. That's as true in car maintenance as it is with tags.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't fix what isn't broken isn't part of the stack exchange curation and editing ethos. Continuous improvement, man. Why is that even being said? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 16, 2016 at 6:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Having dealt with the continuous improvement model IRL at work, "don't fix what isn't broken" is sometimes the right answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 16, 2016 at 12:13

I'd propose the simple yet clear [in-game-time] and [real-life-time].

Like BESW said in a comment, [time-management] could refer to multiple things, as could [pacing] and [timekeeping]

I think leaning on the side of clarity will help organize these questions the most, rather than trying to come up with snappy names.


The existing tag might actually be a good choice for some of the questions about RL time; where that's not a good fit, I like "time-management" as Hey I Can Chan suggested in a comment. For questions about the passage of in-game time, I propose "timekeeping".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Pacing is a technical term though. It's is less about time and more about the flow of story-parts (beats, scenes, rising and falling action, or however one subdivides and quantifies them). As a tag it can apply to questions where neither in-game nor RL time are relevant, so I don't think it can do double-duty this way. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 0:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think pacing is a useful tag for some of these questions. I'm not suggesting we find a replacement - just whether there's anything worthwhile to tag some of these questions with. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 2:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener That's what I was thinking as well - not suggesting that time should be replaced with pacing in general, nor that they mean the same thing; only that of the questions with the time tag, there are some that are about pacing, but are not currently tagged as such. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think a lot of the [Pacing] questions are about time-management, not about story flow and emotion-management. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 3:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GreenstoneWalker That's best addressed by editing a question to have the right tags rather than redefining what a tag means. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 18, 2016 at 6:27

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