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So we have these tags such as , , and which, at first glance, seem to be pretty well off(63, 72, and 80 usages, respectively)...until you examine how consistently they're being used:

  • There are 163 WoW questions. 21 of them are tagged as MMORPGs, meaning 13% of all WoW questions have been tagged with their appropriate genre.
  • There are 135 Fallout: New Vegas questions. 8 of them have been tagged RPG (all by the same person), meaning 6% of all F:NV questions have been genre-tagged. Admittedly, this isn't the best example, as F:NV is a FPS/RPG hybrids, but there are no F:NV questions tagged as FPS.
  • There are 90 Call of Duty: Black Ops questions. Only one of them has been tagged as an FPS.

Furthermore, there are 4 questions which are tagged both as RPG and MMORPG, all asked by different people. Not a huge number, but still significant in that it shows some confusion as to whether or not these tags should be mixed together.

I liked what Grace was saying here about how genre tags are applicable, but if we are to make proper use of them, it's going to require not only extensive retagging, but also extensive site maintenance. These are tags that are applicable to almost every single acceptable question on the website, and the past months of data show users don't naturally gravitate towards using them.

How should we handle this situation? Are we fine to keep the situation as is, where we encourage users to add them but don't enforce their usage? Or should we apply/remove the tags site-wide?

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My stance is more recently like how I go on about platforms. In there, I explain that the tags best helped when there were platform-specific issues, as the tag limit interferes with more prevalent usage. We also have tag wikis and tag sets on stackexchange.com.

Now, there's no such thing as a genre-specific problem of a game, so to speak. Having a problem with stat allocation doesn't make Fallout 3 New Vegas any less of an FPS, for example. So going by that, I find that genres don't make good tags alongside a game unless your question is actually about the genre.

Genres are also a very malleable concept. FPS/RPG, FPS/RTS, STG/Fighting, Action Adventure, Action RPG... you can mix and match a wild game to the point that you could have many different descriptors for the same game. Then you have wonderful things like "Is The Legend of Zelda an RPG", to which battles are still fought in both directions. It's simply not as definitive a descriptor as the platform is, and we already have enough trouble tagging that.

In the end, these tags are metadata (don't bring up Meta tags) towards not the question, but towards the game in question. It's great for filtering games, and consequently what questions are about, but the tag limit and the consequent impossibility of tag implications makes it a nightmare to implement. And as far as filtering goes, they're doing a pretty horrible job of that right now. Past filtering, they don't serve all that much use.

We still need the tags for identifying those rare questions that are actually about the genre. But I believe it would be wise for us to take a step back and abandon them outside of such questions. Maybe make some community-maintained tag sets corresponding to different genres, so that users can follow the things they are interested in. Even monitoring the genre tag set to see what game titles pop up would give you better data than watching the genre tag itself.

  • Agreed. Another problem with genre tags is that if all questions about games will be tagged according to genres, than the genre tags will outnumber the game tags and thus appear first in the title - which isn't that good (and that's already happening with the PC tag, unfortunately). – Oak Feb 28 '11 at 9:45

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