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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\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 16 '17 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I may be guilty of using that tiny-hut myself. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Oct 18 '17 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 '17 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 '17 at 22:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin no judgment, btw: yours just happened to be the one I noticed =) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Oct 19 '17 at 1:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 burninate them. Then cast atonement on me. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Oct 19 '17 at 12:11
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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\$ – jgn Nov 18 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\$ – anaximander Nov 22 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\$ – jgn Nov 23 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\$ – anaximander Nov 23 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\$ – jgn Nov 24 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\$ – jgn Nov 18 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\$ – doppelgreener Nov 18 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\$ – jgn Nov 18 at 23:56
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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\$ – jgn Nov 18 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\$ – Please stop being evil Nov 18 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\$ – jgn Nov 18 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\$ – jgn Nov 18 at 4:09
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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\$ – doppelgreener Oct 17 '17 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\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 17 '17 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 says reinstate Monica Oct 17 '17 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 Oct 18 '17 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 Oct 18 '17 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\$ – inthemanual Oct 25 '17 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @THiebert A worthy cause! Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 26 '17 at 0:30

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