# Are [absent-players] and [attendance] different enough to warrant separate tags?

My question is pretty straightforward. Currently, we have two different tags: and .

The intended uses of these two tags are pretty self-evident; is for questions about players missing sessions, whereas is potentially slightly broader and covers all questions involving attendance.

These two tags seem very closely related. I can't think of any issues involving attendance that doesn't involve absent players. Though only a few questions have both tags, most of the questions with either tag do seem to involve some players being absent.

Are these two tags different enough to warrant separate tags, or should they be merged/synonymized?

They are naturally related but I see important daylight between them. I see no problems they're causing. (And if there's a problem to solve, and we were to combine them, the synonyming should retain the more general and eliminate the narrower .)

Detailed in reverse order:

# If forced to pick one, the concept “attendance” is more useful than “absent players” for tagging

Absent players is a subset of attendance issues, and if we were to keep only one, we should keep the tag that can already cover both and make the other a synonym. That would mean making the main tag and making the synonym .

# There's no problem they're causing

The only problem I can see them causing is redundancy, assuming for the moment and the sake of argument that they're not distinct. If they are distinct, being small isn't enough to get rid of a tag, if it accurately describers a common subject of a collection of questions.

Without problems such as causing harm or being redundant with existing tags, there's no reason to get rid of a tag.

# They're distinct enough

The tag covers more than just the problem of absent players: it covers figuring out attendance, how to encourage attendance, how to schedule groups to ensure attendance (rather than other problems related to scheduling), how to manage games where attendance is designed to be variable (which doesn't qualify as players being “absent” — absence implies you're supposed to be present).

Meanwhile the tag describes a potential subset of attendance, but it's a distinct and acute problem that RPG players encounter regularly. To my eyes that immediately promotes the subject of absent players to being an important issue all by itself that can have experts who have solved the problem before, distinct questions that should be interconnected in our system, and a specific first-class problem category that should be easily found directly rather than as part of a more general “attendance” question collection.

Absent players is a high-profile problem that GMs and groups do have, and it deserves the high profile of having a tag here. Attendance is also an ongoing source of problems and difficulties that aren't always about absence, and so it is distinct too and can't be readily dispensed with.

# Therefore: We should keep them both

They're both useful, and neither are causing problems. If they're not being applied consistently, we aware tag-managers can edit to make them more consistent — one of the very first editing privileges we give to users.

### A difference exists

The tag wiki specifically mentions "attendance issues" and mentions and as related tags.

The focuses on mechanical consequences, listing "how to handle player characters" and "handling missed progression" as example topics.

In other words, based on the current tag wikis, is about the players who miss sessions, while is about the characters of players who miss sessions.

### The difference isn't clear to users

I certainly wouldn't be able to guess what the difference is between those two tags from reading them, and definitely wouldn't assume the one with "players" in its name to be the one to focus on the characters. On top of that, despite the tag wiki considering as related to , there are zero questions tagged with both.

### A different division might be more useful

Overall there do seem to be two types of questions:

There is definitely some overlap. In particular, inconsistent attendance is likely to result in some characters lacking their player most sessions. But there are also questions tagged with either or both of and that aren't really about a player missing a session as much as intentional variance in what players are participating.

### Proposal

is considered useful. It should be kept, but its description should be updated to indicate that it covers any situation caused by a player being absent.

doesn't seem to add anything. The most recent question that used but not was in 2013, so I favor keeping the more current tag. Even if we wanted some nuance in the topic of "sometimes players aren't here", a more distinct tag should be considered so that the difference can be understood from the tag itself rather than requiring careful comparison of the tag wikis.

A new tag might be useful, though it would only cover a handful of questions. Scheduling problems don't necessarily involve sessions taking place with a player missing, so at least some questions that fit would not fit . Repurposing the for this doesn't appeal to me, since the meaning is too similar to .

### Alternate

Although the Attendance tag hasn't been used much recently, it's the best word to fully encompass all these questions: whether your campaign has people joining and leaving at-will, players missing sessions enough to cause tension, or scheduling difficulties that leave large gaps between sessions, all of these challenges could be called "attendance". Thus, unifying as a synonym of and grouping all of these questions there would simplify categorization quite a bit. However, it would also end up being a muddy megatag that covers extremely distinct actual topics, so I don't think it's the best solution.

There is not enough daylight between them; we should make them synonyms.

• Which should be a synonym to which? – SevenSidedDie Aug 20 '18 at 21:14

Neither is useful. There are only 18 answers tagged to either tag, and neither is a good tag anyway:

• They are overly narrow.
• They try to summarize the question.

Further, they are poorly suited to tags' core function. I do not believe they will help answerers find questions relevant to their interests/expertise: It seems unlikely that anyone is waiting specifically to look at questions about missing players, as opposed to generally about group dynamics. It is possible that this tag might help an asker find existing answers, but that is only true to the extent that it summarizes the question (which is discouraged).

• I, wow, really really super disagree. If we only have 18 questions about handling attendance issues / missing players, dumping those into the sea of 204 [group-dynamics] questions would do damage to the curation of our database. The collection of questions about handling attendance would be lost among the “we are having personality conflicts” questions. – SevenSidedDie Aug 20 '18 at 21:15
• @SevenSidedDie I understand that perspective, but think it's wrong. Any question could have it's own specific tag, and synonymizing that tag into a larger pool would lose that tag's ability to find that specific question. This seems like the right analogy. (I'm not bothered that you disagree on this tag though!) – fectin Aug 20 '18 at 21:29
• That's not analogous at all — spell names are readily searchable, in a way concepts expressed with various different kinds of words are not searchable. Being able to type [spell] <spellname> and get all posts about a spell is why we'll never need tags for spell names. “Attendance” or “absent players” are not fixed terms that invariably show up in every single question about them. Eliminating the tags would eliminate all our data on a category of question that cannot be searched without tags. This suggestion is essentially denying the entire purpose of tags. – SevenSidedDie Aug 20 '18 at 21:35