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I came across a question today tagged with the (partial) name of the specific spell the question contemplates. Now I like a as much as the next sheep, and I do believe in emergent folksonomy.

But is this a point where we, as a community, say "hmm... maybe not?"


To be a little clearer, here are the uses I see tags performing:

On the first point, I have a hard time understanding what expert we could be catching with that we aren't getting with +. On the second point, I don't see what we're getting with that we don't get with a search for the spell's name.

I leave you with another quote from the tagging article:

As a general rule, you should avoid creating new tags if possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible that a tiny hut question—like a floating disk question—could bring in experts that have used that spell in different editions since D&D's inception? In that way, such a tag draws in experts with a historical perspective that may be worthwhile in answering a question about the version being asked about. (I'd only recommend the tag on a handful of specific spells, like hut, disk, and magic missile, for instance.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 16, 2017 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I may be guilty of using that tiny-hut myself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Oct 18, 2017 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan the most iconic ones, maybe. But we can live without them, and there aren't many cross-edition questions one can make on a question that would not gather cloose vootes like a barbecue gather flies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Oct 18, 2017 at 22:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ One I'd like to ask: "How to port 2e Mythanthor's Create Mithal to 3.5e" probably be Primary Opinion Based. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Oct 18, 2017 at 22:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin no judgment, btw: yours just happened to be the one I noticed =) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Oct 19, 2017 at 1:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 burninate them. Then cast atonement on me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Oct 19, 2017 at 12:11

7 Answers 7

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Ditch 'em.

Having specific spell tags make people think they need to do that, and as this isn't "D&D Stack Exchange" it's going to take way too much word-space away from other games. If you want to find, for example, all "tiny hut" questions we do have site search, it's not like it's impossible.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a limit to the number of tags on a site? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18, 2019 at 3:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jgn no, but there are other games out there that also use English. A tag called "fireball", referring to the D&D spell, would tread on the toes of anything else that uses the word "fireball", which could well be a spell in another game system, or a mechanic in some system that doesn't have spells, or even the name of a game itself. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2019 at 14:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @anaximander That isn't really a problem though is it? I'm sure there are other systems that have wizards, fighters, rogues, etc too. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2019 at 1:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jgn That's probably true, but I'm just saying, that's likely what was meant by "take way too much word-space away from other games". Many games use similar terms, and it makes no sense to create tags for every single term in one specific game that might then make it harder to find those same terms in relation to other games, or even just in normal English usage. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2019 at 9:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @anaximander I'm not sure about that for 2 reasons: firstly, you can write a description for each tag, so you can eliminate most confusion about normal English. Secondly, you can filter by multiple tags, eg I usually search with the [dnd-5e] metatag with any other tag. So I don't think having tags specific to one game is really a problem. Perhaps there are even tools for hierarchical tags, I'm not really sure. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 24, 2019 at 1:31
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I don't think we should make a habit of having tags for specific spells.

Short version: too many specific nontransferrable names which overlap with fundamental game concepts of those very same games let alone other games, which takes up tags we should be using for those fundamental concepts instead.


Our tag taxonomy is predominantly high level game concepts, portable between multiple editions or even game systems. This is a great sweet spot to go for because it's unlikely a question will be about more than 2-3 of these concepts.

Some of our tag taxonomy is about games & editions, and some of it is about specific printed products (e.g. as a published adventure tag).

Spells are beyond that sweet spot. An awful lot of our questions about spells are about how 2-3 different spells interact — in addition to the system tag, possible tag, and other mechanical systems that would interact such as .

They also use up common names while not being even a little bit transferable. D&D 5e has 400+ spells, Pathfinder has 1,700 spells just in the official list (excluding third party products), D&D 3.5e and 4e have also gone similarly bananas. These spells cover common names like , , , , , , . That's me just picking out a handful from the Pathfinder list. These are all names of ordinary gameplay concepts, real-world experiences, or even features of the very same game system.

By eating up those names you're also causing trouble for people who play other games and don't need tags for their basic game concepts to be taken up by existing games. Did you know Spite is both a Pathfinder spell and a fundamental mechanic of ?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this really deals with the fact that a ton of tags already cover common words like 'wizard' or 'spells' which have a huge amount of overlap. Which game do these tags belong to? Which games should not use them and which should? You may not be aware but each tag has a tooltip which explains this, making it a non issue. You can also search by tag. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18, 2019 at 3:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's fully accounted for. Long before this answer we'd already reckoned with the fact that tags can be shared by multiple games; no game “owns” a tag. The way we currently handle that is part of the sweet spot I'm referencing in this answer. Spell name tags interact poorly with that pattern. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18, 2019 at 10:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that argument only holds if you present strawmen like "D&D has 400+ spells and PF has 1700+". It seems there isn't really an argument here besides "that's the way it is", presented without justification as "the sweet spot". \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18, 2019 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ The more times I reread this answer the more problematic it becomes. We have never had a PF question about Spite, and there has only ever been 1 question about great-ork-gods. This really seems to be an imagined problem. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2019 at 2:17
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So, ultimately, I think the answer in an ideal world would be Yes. Some individual spells in certain games get a lot of distinct questions just about them. For example, I bet we have more upvoted questions about the mechanics of Pathfinder's Blood Money spell than involving Human Occupied Landfill (3:2 by my count). If the community is asking so much about an individual spell that we end up being like "okay, this really needs its own tag", then yeah, it makes sense to have a tag for that specific spell and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It helps both of your use cases, at that point. For comparison, we have 153 questions tagged , and that's a single specific class feature a tiny minority of classes get in some but not all D&D systems. It's reasonable we might want a tag for e.g. Wish.

However, mxyzplk is right. We already have a pervasive D&D-rules-all problem, and letting people do this will make it worse. I think it's better to lose the tiny benefit spell-specific tags might have if it helps to encourage system diversity.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't this seem awfully petty? You want to make the site less functional to a large portion of users just because there is a large number of them? System diversity can be encouraged without spiting D&D players. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18, 2019 at 3:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jgn This was before we started discriminating against D&D players with our system tagging policy. I think this was a good idea at the time because of how the site was functioning at the time, but it definitely seems like a bad idea now. That doesn't seem to confuse anybody, though; I added a Shape Water tag myself recently and nobody seemed bothered by that. Essentially, this answer (and the post in general) is pretty outdated. If you think that people might be confused about that, ask a new meta. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18, 2019 at 4:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, at least some people were bothered enough to make a meta about shape water and link to this meta as justification. AFAIK metas don't have a time limit and are never reviewed. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18, 2019 at 23:53
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We only can have 5 tags.. Let's see how tagging goes on:

We need at least one tag for the edition, let's assume , one for , possibly to narrow it down a tiny bit more to as we ask about magic missile and maybe one for the class of the caster, who's a . Wait, we only have ONE tag left! Do we need that for because we ask about a bard buffing the wizard and how that changes spell damage or do we use it for ?!

And then: D&D/Pathfinder alone has over 500 spells. The Dark Eye has about 150 in the german 4.1 edition, Shadowrun has a technically infinite number because you can make spells. That'd demand us to make about that many tags, identify all questions about each of them, then retag appropriately and run into the 5-tags-only problem a lot.

tl;dr: It is not worth the effort you will have to make as you'll run into the tag limiter, most tags will have just one or two questions at all and even tagging just one spell with its name opens a can of worms I don't want to be seen opened. Not until we may have 10 tags at minimum.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Aren't tags supposed to be about the topic of the question? If I saw a question tagged [pathfinder] [magic] [damage] [wizard] [bard] [magic-missile] then I would be confused. More appropriate tags would be [pathfinder] [bard] [magic-missile]. And even then, the pathfinder meta-tag only exists due to convention. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18, 2019 at 4:09
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Spell tags make more sense than the generic terms

If you look at the list of top users for and ask them to answer a question like How does ‘Pocket Dimension’ work? or even ask if they want it appearing in a watched feed, then the response would likely be "of course! Oh wait, what?"

Because of course, more systems use spells than D&D!

Now let's look at (a more common tag than ... Ok we have some overlap with but if there is confusion we can create two new tags to divide them out.

Even https://itch.io doesn't have a game that overlaps with one of the spell specific tags.

Separately, if the reason we don't want to have spell tags is for fear of being too D&D-centric, I have some bad news for you. The blanket ban would effect the non-D&D systems too. If somebody felt the need to make we should let them, and if there's an issue we can rename/split into and .


You also can't watch, ignore or subscribe via RSS easily without tags. It's a core part of interacting with question topics! Don't take that away!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still mad about tiny-hut being taken away. \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Mar 2 at 20:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 It’s only supposed to last 8 hours. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 2 at 20:56
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The tag system is emergent, and if we're getting a substantial amount of questions about a single spell, a tag should be made for it. To say that any question asking about a particular spell needs a tag for that spell though, is asking too much.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I can see the benefits of this, but I'm not sure where I'd draw the line and I'm not sure there are any spells actually like this. There's a tag for Polymorph, but that's a transferrable concept and also a whole category of effects and spells. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2017 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I dunno. A pretty basic magic missile search yields some pretty impressive results, but I'm no search guru. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2017 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ And the questioner knows this how? People will either overcompensate and tag everything, or they won't tag and someone will have to go be a busybody and retag it. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Oct 17, 2017 at 21:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan that gets at a bit of my second thought: doing a search for magic missile you can be pretty confident, I'd assume, that you got most of the questions about that spell. [total-party-kill], OTOH, is a useful tag because I can't imagine a string of search terms that's likely to get my browsing list together like the TPK tag does. In other words, I can see things that a tag like [gm-techniques] or [adventure-design] gathers that it's not easy to craft a search string for. A particular spell, though, it seems like searching for the spell's name accomplishes the browsing function. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Oct 18, 2017 at 1:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the third hand, I suppose that search you linked points out the counter-argument: a lot of those posts contain MM, but aren't really about MM. Grr... spun in too many circles for one night. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Oct 18, 2017 at 1:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would like to point out that this answer was created to present an opposing opinion and see how the site felt about it, not as a reflection of my own views. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2017 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @THiebert A worthy cause! Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 26, 2017 at 0:30
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It's not needed if spell names are specific enough, but does it hurt?

I think for something like it is actually useful, as that is a common English language word that can show up in a lot of posts and makes it harder to find those posts related to the wish spell.

For something with a specific name like "glyph of warding" you can probably rely on the search function and is:question to find those posts that are related to the spell. Same goes for "simulacrum".

The advantage of non-tagging is also that tagging needs to be maintained, and new posters very likely miss rarely used tags. So this taxonomy will never be comprehensive.

I don't know if a policy here needs to be very simple, or if it is OK to have some nuance. If it needs to be super simple, than probably all spell-name tags would have to go, including the useful ones.

On the other hand, does it hurt to have those tags? As long as someone is willing to add them, I do not see them being a problem either.

As per request I see these problems pointed out by other posts here

  • They take up common English word space: I think that is a feature, not a bug. It helps me to find posts about the wish spell, rather than posts where someone wishes to do something.

  • They take up tag slots: In updating 40 posts this morning, there was exactly one that had all five slots filled. That seems not to be any issue in practice. (Some of the people here with the requsite mining skills can probalby provide a quantitative answer on what share of posts has all 5 tags).

  • They reinforce popular systems by having them squat on tags for things like , which could be applicable to super hero powers and such, not just D&D spells. This has a bit of substance. But this would not be any issue with tags for spell names that are clearly from D&D pedigree like "tiny hut" or "glyph of warding". Those will not be squatting on anybodies turf.

I in general feel it is easy to be tempted to establish rules and regulations in a well-meaning attempt to improve things.

This is a community maintained site. There may be wisdom in letting the community maintain things as they like, instead of regaling them with well-meaning rules. In my experience, that can easily feel exclusive, and while I understand the need for some rules, I would suggest to keep it to those areas that really cause problems.

(That I updated like a bazillion posts this morning - well, 40 - has more to do with my stupidiy about how to do it than it being an issue of spell tags, that could have happened with any kind of tag).

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    \$\begingroup\$ See the answers above on why it may be problematic - can you respond to those concerns in your answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Mar 2 at 13:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hey Groody, it seems you provided an answer but then went ahead and flooded the front page with single-spell tag edits without waiting for community response. (And contradicting the established answer with the most votes.) Even if, for some reason, you want to add the tags and see if they survive pruning, could you please space out the edits in the future? Bombs like that tend to burry other questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Mar 2 at 16:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, ashes on my head, I apologize for that -- I should have realized updating the tags would do it. It will not happen again with me, promised. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 2 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm also not sure we need to reinforce popular systems...if anything less popular need reinforcement. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Mar 2 at 18:21

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