In no small part inspired by another question, I wanted to briefly consider the role of the tag.

We've had a couple discussions already about whether or not they're appropriate, but only one discussion about what constitutes a .

Let's start by taking a look at what has been characterized with :

I think these different questions are largely representative of the kinds of different questions that sit under the tag, and I'm going to try to break them up into categories:


Questions about Games which happen to be Mods

Questions in this category are largely about games which are custom maps, total conversions, or otherwise "mods." While these games are, by definition, mods they questions themselves rarely touch on the "mod" attributes. Instead they are usually concerned with the strategies and mechanics of game play. In the days of Warcraft 3, this would be like tagging with .


While these happen to be mods, we can probably treat them as if they were full fledged games. Tagging these with is tantamount to tagging every question with .


Questions about games which, possibly, are solved by adding a mod

These questions aren't strictly about mods, though the presence (or absence) of mods might contribute to finding a solution to these problems. Usually the asker has some goal or problem which they believe a mod might solve, but might also have an in-game solution


While placing the possibility of a mod in the question seems fine, tagging with when there might be a possible in-game solution seems excessive. Frequently when people have questions which can not be solved via in-game people will suggest a mod to provide that functionality.

Mod Creation

These questions are sometimes about the modding functionality built into a game, the scripting language associated with it, or the current state of modding.


Of all the questions tagged this seems to be the most straight forward. These are really questions about game-design (or perhaps mod-design) and are out of scope for our site. We've already seen a number of them closed



There are a class of questions where users are asking for mods to provide specific functionality. Sometimes there are multiple valid answers and other times the answers don't support the specific functionality being looked for


I won't comment on whether or not I feel these questions are appropriate for Gaming.SE, but these do seem closer to a discussion about . That said, we could very easily tag these as an off shoot called , and it would serve the same purpose. As is very clearly a meta tag, I'd prefer to abandon the tag all together for this class of questions. These questions rarely have anything to do with one another, and I can't think of a reason to place them all in the same set together.



Like but for mods. This suffers from the same "meta tag" problem as mod-rec.


The same.


Meta-Mod Questions

I've labeled these "meta-mods" as they're not about a specific mod, but rather are about integrating mods into games. These questions are often technical in nature and specific to the mod support of games.


Of all the questions labeled these some how feel the most appropriate. This is a little strange as they aren't always about a specific mod, but they are always focused on mods.



I felt compelled to provide some suggestions to the problem so I wasn't just the guy bringing up problems, but I'm not particularly married to them. What I care most about is some how breaking up these very disparate topics into their appropriate tags instead of letting them live under the umbrella of .

  • 3
    I agree with everything you've written. Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 5:29
  • Minecraft mod questions are in danger. One question of mod support of Minecraft and it gets closed.
    – Jim Jones
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 4:19

1 Answer 1


Honestly, I've subscribed to the line of thinking that, if a tag is not one that someone is likely to follow, it's not worth having around.

Let's take tzenes's examples, your suggestions, and how my rule would apply.

Questions about games that happen to be mods

  • tzenes says: Treat them like full-fledged games and dump the tag.
  • Shaun's rule: People aren't likely to follow a tag to see Q/A on games that just happen to be mods. They're way more likely to follow stuff about that specific mod (DOTA, Desert Combat, etc). Tags specific to those mods-that-are-games would be more valuable to such users.
  • Shaun's conclusion: Invalid tag usage.

Questions about games which, possibly, are solved by adding a mod

  • tzenes says: Excessive use.
  • Shaun's rule: People aren't likely to follow a tag to see Q/A on issues solved by adding mods. They're likely more interested in the game or the issue and the fact that a mod can/does solve the issue is inconsequential to the overall topic.
  • Shaun's conclusion: Invalid tag usage.

Mod Creation

  • tzenes says: Off-topic.
  • Shaun's rule: You are likely to follow general Q/A on mod creation if you are a mod developer. However, you'd also be doing so on Game Development @ SE.
  • Shaun's conclusion: Invalid tag usage.

Mod Rec

  • tzenes says: New tag: .
  • Shaun's rule: Very limited scope that will be closely coupled with the game. You might want to follow recommendations on mods for WoW or another game, but recommendations are generally off-topic anyway and there are better resources for these questions.
  • Shaun's conclusion: Invalid tag usage.

Identify this Mod

  • tzenes says: New tag: New tag: .
  • Shaun's rule: There may be people who would follow this (based on the fact that there may be people who like the 'challenge' of . However, the latter has a checkered past here on GSE and overall the site in general doesn't benefit overall from these questions. Whereas Q&A here is meant to benefit others who come in with the same question, benefits very few people per question asked in comparison.
  • Shaun's conclusion: Invalid tag usage.

Meta-Mod questions

  • tzenes says: Most appropriate use.
  • Shaun's rule: People are not likely to want to track questions for the sole reason that they are about mods.
  • Shaun's conclusion: Invalid tag usage.


doesn't serve a useful purpose. Dump it.

Mini-rant (or: Why Shaun is Hating on Tags)

Preface: This isn't directed at anyone (and certainly not tzenes), but this is something I've come to realize over my year+ here.

I think GSE has a serious tag problem overall. Other SE sites use tags to categorize problems that can easily be followed by subject matter experts to aid in quick and thoughtful answers. On GSE, we commonly get the "categorization" piece without thinking if the tag adds any value beyond "I HAZ A BUKKET FOR MY QUESTUN". As such, we suffer from an overabundance of tags that serve little purpose, and suck up our time when people get into edit wars where they add/remove tags on questions or post meta threads so we can disagree over how to use them.

My opinion may be an unpopular one, but overall I think we need to purge tags overall and do a better job of keeping the main advantage of having a tag in mind when we create or use it. I used to follow , but people abuse that tag to include any game they're playing on Steam at times rather than simply using it when they have a problem with the application.

Over-categorization of questions is just as bad a problem as under-categorization.

Side note

The title of this question is responsible for getting Salt & Pepa stuck in my head.

  • The only place I really disagree with you is the first example. Dota was a custom map for Warcraft 3, but it became a Genre. There were entire sites dedicated to Dota (not WC3). Some people don't care about the Game the mod is built on top of, only the mod they're playing. If you just tagged with teh underlying engine, it'd be like retagging half-life as quake
    – tzenes
    Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 20:53
  • 2
    @tzenes I suppose that, in my mind, such questions would be better-tagged with the name of the mod. If I was interested in the DOTA map, you're right that tracking Warcraft 3 would give me a flood of useless questions. Then again, so would a mod tag. I'd see stuff for Garry's Mod and Desert Combat as well, and I wouldn't care about any of that. A tag specific to that mod would be most-appropriate. I'll adjust my first example to take this into account.
    – Shaun
    Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 23:34
  • I'd rather see it die as well. As a side note I would assume the abuse of steam has gone unnoticed -- thanks for mentioning it. I'll watch it for retagging and hopefully others do too. Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 2:22
  • well, in gaming's defense, the tagging issues here are a lot more dangerous than on other sites because of the nature of the topic. We do see "I has a bukket for my questun" on other sites, and it is not good there either, but it is nowhere near the clear and present danger it is on gaming for the reasons I outlined here Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 10:11
  • as I said on the podcast a while back, and you alluded to in your comment above, the fact is that most gamers simply don't give a damn about other games that they don't play. So having cross-cutting, generic tags like [mod] across multiple wildly disparate games is not helpful to anyone and arguably actively kinda harmful to anyone who clicks on it. Another example of this is [achievements] which has a synonym to [trophies]; what Xbox gamer looking at [achievements] is going to care about PS3 trophies, ever? Better to have the more specific, correct platform [trophies] tag.. Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 10:14

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