There are these two tags on our site, and . Both are in need of tag wikis. I don't think we have a site policy on how the tags should be used, and I'm noticing some questions tagged as while questions with similar topics are tagged as .

For example, this question under [peripherals] asks how a guitar controller works in-game, and this question under [controllers] asks which games a guitar controller works with.

How should we distinguish between these two tags, if we should even choose keep them separate? I think it's important to get solid definitions down for both of them, since controllers is one of the top-used tags on the site and needs a good tag wiki page.

4 Answers 4


So, I've been thinking about this, and I'm going to say that it's not a problem, it just looks like one.

All Controllers are Peripherals. It's true, the former is a subset of the latter, and if we wanted to do a synonym, the appropriate thing to do would be to do a bunch of retagging and put the synonym in that direction. But I don't think that's a particularly good idea either, because the vast majority of our peripherals questions are in fact about Controllers. For the same reason that questions on Cooking about Chicken shouldn't be retagged Poultry. Most of them are specifically about the subset, and the subset is big enough to stand on it's own.

As to the question of 'what is a peripheral that's not a controller?' Well, admittedly, we haven't gotten many questions that fit the bill, but realistically, any questions regarding memory cards, external hard drives, network adapters, alternate media accessories, voice chat headsets, remote controls, and more would fall into the category.

A much simplified version of Steve's flowchart could then be: Is it a device I plug into my game console/computer? If Yes, then it's a Peripheral. Do I use it to control my games? If Yes, then it's also a Controller, and may not need the less specific Peripheral tag as well..

Whether a question needs one or both tags is ultimately, up to the asker and the community, keeping tag limits in mind.

In other words: Status-quo is fine, but we as a community should probably keep an eye out for mistagged questions.

  • 1
    I wouldn't even say "may" not need the peripheral tag, I'd say if you plug it in and control games, tag it controller, period. If you plug it in and don't control games, tag it peripheral, period. I like that flow better than the one in my response, actually.
    – Steve V.
    Jan 11, 2011 at 20:07
  • Implemented in tag wiki
    – badp
    Feb 24, 2011 at 15:43

My first reaction is that a controller is a peripheral, but a peripheral is not always a controller, in the same way that coffee is a drink, but a drink is not always coffee.

As I see it, a controller is:

  • Handheld
  • Designed to operate game software

And a peripheral:

  • May or may not be handheld
  • If it is handheld, was not designed specifically for games.



EDIT: The process falls apart a bit in the very unusual case of a non-handheld device designed for games. For example, devices like the Eyetoy, Kinect, or DDR dance mats would be tagged as peripherals, even though they could be considered a type of controller. I feel that the simplicity of having just 2 questions (nine words total!) beats the cost of a more complicated system.

  • So the Eye Toy or the Kinect wouldn't be controllers?
    – badp
    Jan 8, 2011 at 20:45
  • 2
    @badp: Not as I've drawn it out, no. See my edit...
    – Steve V.
    Jan 8, 2011 at 20:58

Based on viewing all the questions, there's no question in my mind that this distinction is meaningless -- they are synonyms and you should pick one or the other and go with it.

  • 1
    Just because we haven't had any questions that would merit the broader tag does not mean that the two should be merged. If, Cooking.se had 60 questions about Chicken, 10 of which were tagged Poultry, and for some reason, had never had a question about any other avian cuisine, would you suggest defining them to be synonyms? Jan 9, 2011 at 8:48
  • 1
    @lesspop YAGNI. KISS. I prefer to make decisions on the data we have rather than the data I might imagine at some indeterminate, unknown point in the future. YMMV. Jan 9, 2011 at 8:58

Here's the synonym proposal for voting purposes.

Don't just downvote (upvote) this post -- downvote (upvote) the proposal too!

  • I dislike the synonym going in this direction. I understand that Controllers is the more popular tag, but it is in fact a subset of Peripherals, and not the other way around. Jan 8, 2011 at 20:00
  • @Less The direction is largely irrelevant and out of my choice anyway.
    – badp
    Jan 8, 2011 at 20:44
  • 1
    I'm not allowed to downvote the proposal (no rep in the relevant tags), so I'm downvoting your post to register my disapproval! Jan 8, 2011 at 21:59
  • @LessPop ...that's something I didn't know about.
    – badp
    Jan 8, 2011 at 22:03

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