This issue of the confusion between the and tags has been brought up twice in the past (years ago):

Both prior discussions seem to have been inconclusive, with no clear consensus - resulting in the continuation of the status quo.

T.Sar's answer to the more recent question suggests a theoretical difference between the two tags:

Plot is something that will, or at least, can happen. Your campaign have a plot - the planned events that you want to put the players in.

Story, on the other hand, is something that already happened or is more or less static: your character background, the lore regarding a magic item, the tales regarding the founding of a dungeon, that kind of stuff.

The "Plot" tag should be more about planning stuff, while the story tag would cover telling stuff.

At least, that is how I would use each tag. If this is the way they are being used, that's another matter.

SevenSidedDie's comment on this answer questions whether this hypothetical distinction is how the two tags are actually being used.

In fact, doppelgreener's answer points out that this is not how the tag was being used at the time:

No, we don't need them both, and we should make one a synonym of the other.

Multiple dictionaries define "plot" as primarily meaning "secret scheme", and secondarily meaning "story". We've been using in the second sense, which means we're using it exactly as a synonym of story. We can't get much more of a solid synonym than that.

[The other answer] makes a distinction between them that plot is forward-looking narrative and story is backwards-looking narrative. The definitions we're operating on don't make such a distinction though, and neither have the users — both tags are being used both ways.

In fact, since the issue was most recently discussed, the problem has only gotten worse. That theoretical distinction between the ways that the two tags could be used (as T. Sar proposed) is not how the tags have actually been used (as doppelgreener pointed out).

The two tags are very inconsistently and quite interchangeably used. In fact, even the tag info for the two tags doesn't at all make it clear how they're supposed to be used or how they're different from one another.

The tag info says:

The sequence of events that take place in the fictional environment of a roleplaying game.

The tag info says:

The narrative arc of the story cooperatively told by all participants in the RPG, including both planned and unplanned elements.

There seems to be a ton of overlap between these two, and the brief tag info (and nonexistent tag wiki) does not sufficiently differentiate the two tags or really explain how they are used.

Given what a long-standing (and still unresolved) problem this has been, the two tags should be synonymized.

If I had to suggest a direction for the synonymization/merging, I'd suggest we make a synonym of the main tag ; the latter seems less generic and thus less likely to be misused.

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    \$\begingroup\$ (An aside Re those tag wikis: that’s a good example of why just generically defining tag topics (instead of mainly containing good-tagging instructions) is actively discouraged by that help article on tag wikis.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 14:32

2 Answers 2


Unpopular Opinion: Story tag should be burninated

Lets analyze the story tag excerpt a bit more.

: The sequence of events that take place in the fictional environment of a roleplaying game.

This tells us nothing about what questions it's appropriate for and when to use it, leading it to be tagged based on the definition that's in the excerpt of the tag. The nature of these questions lends it to be more of a WorldBuilding.SE or Writing.SE tag (and even then it's probably too broad for them, and would broken further down into elements such as magic, science based, alternate history, etc), rather than a RPG.SE tag.

Let's see how the questions that utilize the tag look like.

Looking through the first couple of pages of various questions (that are open) with the tag, there was one question that it made sense as a tag in. Instead makes more sense as a tag for most of the questions, given their questions involved handling plot points.

The FAQ of asking good questions provides a good reason on why questions with it tagged tend to be poor questions for here.

If you ask a vague question, you’ll get a vague answer. But if you give us details and context, we can provide a useful answer.

Many of the story questions are just too broad in nature to be a good question, instead they need to be broken down to be a good question, which gives us questions about plot points which plot is more suited for rather than story.

Now going through the burninate FAQ for helping determine when a tag is bad.

When a tag implies no clearly defined meaning

While story does have a defined meaning, the nature of it often leads questions tagged with it to be too broad, or to be questions which is better suited for. While there are a small handful of questions that it can suit and that plot wouldn't be better suited for (such as the one linked above), those are far and few between, and or could serve as a tag in those circumstances.

When a tag has a clearly defined meaning, but is still misused often.

As I said earlier, many of the questions should instead have tag on them. It's obviously being misused.

When a tag can be replaced with a combination of more generic tags.

could replace for a series of questions about creating a quest for a magical sword, since this question would need to be narrowed down to plot points for relevant portions in order for it to not be too broad anyways.


Despite my points above, I could see becoming a synonym of , which would help it make sense on RPG.SE; However, it definitely shouldn't be left as it currently is.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie On the contrary tags are for adding information to a question, just information about the question's nature. If I was to make a question about 5e but had a pathfinder tag I'm incorrectly conveying information that the question is about pathfinder and not 5e. Similarly, story adds no real information about the nature of a question that isn't needed to be supplemented by other tags. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 23:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I don't disagree that story's description is about RPGs, I disagree that it's description is useful for asking or answering questions about RPGs. If I were to ask a question on RPG.SE detailing my barbarian ninja's backstory and asked whether it was any good or how I should modify it, would you consider that an appropriate question here? \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly, they are for grouping information about a subject, similarly if I were to tag a question with magic items, when I'm really asking about spells cast by my wizard player that would be erroneous information about the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ My point about the story tag is that the majority of the ones that are asked, are either too broad, or aren't really story questions, but instead questions about handling plot points, which the plot is there for. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 23:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I did a serious revision to my answer in order to make my point more clear. Should I have just deleted this one and posted a new answer instead? \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 0:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ That eliminates my objections! (Generally an edit is the right way to change it, especially if the general point is being kept.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 1:26

No, and Changes Should Not Be Made Behind the Community's Back

First, while I'm surprised by which one is which in the definitions of the tags, the distinction between the (planned) sequence series of events, and the combined planned-and-unplanned emergent arcs produced collectively by the GM and players, is a useful one.

Second, the prior community discussions leaned towards leaving the tag alone (at 9 vs. 6 as of 2019-02-27) and the story tag not being a problem. The proposition of erasing one of the tags has a net zero vote (again, as of 2019-02-27). So I'm surprised that the merger was performed despite the community vote leaning in the opposite direction, and that the bump only happened now. In fact it seems like when such a change is made, there is no way to try to reverse it through Actual Usage (which seems to normally be one of the principles of shaping the way tags become structured).

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    \$\begingroup\$ As much as I didn’t want to see them merged, actual usage was never going to course-correct: the distinction is not self-evident to the majority of people, so they are not good tag names to promote people naturally using them differently. So I reluctantly agree this was the right administrative action. If we need a tag for emergent story, we’ll need a tag that is self-evidently distinct to a majority, including those who are unaware of the distinction. Something that is both unlikely to be consistently misused and likely to be regularly used correctly; perhaps [emergent-story]. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 15:40

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