While asking my last question I noticed that there wasn't any Louis XIV tag. There seems to be enough questions that relate to him that there ought to be.

I was then curious to see if other noteworthy rulers and historical characters suffered from the same. Those with a tag that I found include:

(I probably missed a few others.)

At the moment who gets a tag seems a bit arbitrary. And it seems odd, judging by some cursory searches (Bismarck, Louis XVI, Galileo, etc.), that some first tier historical characters don't have a tag when they probably should.

Just for clarity, I'm of the opinion that such tags ought to be for questions that are about the individuals in question. I'm assuming there is consensus on this idea in the History SE community. I'm further assuming that this state is not by design (or is it?) and that there's consensus that having people tags that newcomers can pick from is desirable.

I suspect that there are two main reasons for our dearth of people tags. The first is that users with high enough reputation to create tags are less likely to ask questions. The other is that it's more natural to use existing tags than it is to create them when asking or editing questions. (Anecdotally, I seldom do so.)

Now, assuming this is not by design (and the comments on this question suggests it is not):

  1. Is there agreement on History SE that we want more people related tags and encourage their use for applicable questions?

  2. If so, which format should we be preferring? For instance I've just created . This was a safe choice for the Sun King, but it could just as well have been or something to the same effect, so that is not confused with the many other Charles I.

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    Seems like there are rather a lot of different questions balled up into this one.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jul 30, 2019 at 16:23
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    @T.E.D.: yeah, well to my mind it's really just one question with a decision tree: by designed? yes -> stop; no -> consensus that we want to add tags? no -> stop; yes -> want high rep users to add tags? no -> stop; yes -> how? Also, it's tagged with "Discussion". :-) Jul 30, 2019 at 18:01
  • So what exactly are you looking for in answers? Something along the lines of "X is when we make a new person-based tag, and Y is how we pick the wording of the name"? (Mostly I think I'm clarifying, not challenging)
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jul 30, 2019 at 18:03
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    @T.E.D.: mostly a discussion TBH. I'm curious about a) whether a general agreement emerges that we want to actively add people related tags, seeing how we have precious few at the moment; and b) if so whether there's a general consensus on the tag format we should use for such. It's a no brainer for the likes of "Hitler"; much less so for, say, "Frederick-I" (which one? of Prussia or the HRE?). Jul 30, 2019 at 18:07
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    I'm not sure about an answer, but I can think of many sub-questions. For example, I can see the point of the "hitler" tag - to distinguish questions that are about Hitler from those that simply mention him. A simple site search for "Hitler" won't make that distinction. I'm not quite so sure about the need for the "charles-v" or "john-adams" tags though. I guess it depends on what we think the function of tags should be. My understanding is that tags define topics, so when does a person cross the threshold and become a topic in their own right? Jul 30, 2019 at 20:20
  • Interesting question. It does seem pretty arbitrary - I've just done a quick search, I've probably missed some, but - we have Henry VIII but not Elizabeth I - or Victoria. There is a Churchill tag and an Eisenhower one, but not Roosevelt. And - if Marx, why not Engels,Mill, or Bentham? Even in the non-personal tags, it seems a bit hit-and-miss - England, Scotland, Ireland (3) but not Wales. Re the personal tags, I suppose history is largely about people, so we're talking about an awful lot of them!
    – TheHonRose
    Jul 31, 2019 at 2:42
  • @sempaiscuba: IMO there are a few characters in history that attract enough interest to warrant getting a tag. Which do get one is something I think we can leave to the judgement of whoever opts to create relevant tags. Those who can do so will typically know enough about history to decide that Napoleon obviously deserves a tag; that names that rise above the surface, such as Lafayette or Talleyrand, probably deserve one too; and that a character like Auguste de Marmont is probably too localized to deserve one (however notorious in his days). Jul 31, 2019 at 9:20
  • @DenisdeBernardy I think we have different views of the purpose of tags. My understanding is that tags define topics. It's not a question of historical fame or notoriety, but of whether we need a tag to group a set of questions into a topic. If we have enough questions about Napoleon (not just questions that mention him), then we need a tag, otherwise probably not. Similarly with his generals. Jul 31, 2019 at 9:38
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    @TheHonRose There is an 'fdr' tag, which might be a good thing if we ever get enough questions to justify creating one for Theodore Roosevelt. The 'churchill' one is obviously for Winston, but that could be a problem if we ever get enough questions to justify creating tags for John or Sarah Churchill. Broadly, I think that I agree that there are too many people who are important enough historically that we might anticipate getting questions about them on History:SE. The question is do we create tags for all of them, even though most may never get an actual question? Jul 31, 2019 at 9:46
  • @sempaiscuba: Actually, we're in agreement on the purpose of tags. In my mind these would be for questions about the people in question. And personally speaking, I wouldn't want to see gazillions of people related tags. The problem I'm trying to get at is that there is a dearth of people related tags, and I attribute this to the fact that those most likely to want to use them when asking questions can't create these tags. Given this, do we want to proactively create such tags when we run into questions that could have used them? And if so, using which format? Jul 31, 2019 at 9:52
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    @DenisdeBernardy I'm not sure that can be right. At present, users only need 150 rep to create tags. I think the questions may be about the threshold at which tags for individuals become useful, and (I absolutely agree) about the format we should use for such tags. Jul 31, 2019 at 9:59
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    @sempaiscuba: Mmm. I hadn't realized that the threshold was so low. I though it was 2k-ish or something. Might the fact that such tags don't exist and that users tend to only use existing tags would explain how few such tags exist in your opinion? Jul 31, 2019 at 10:05
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    @DenisdeBernardy I don't know. In some ways, I am surprised that there are so many such tags. Some don't really appear justified by the numbers of questions. I'd be really interested to understand why, for example, the 'charles-v' and 'john-adams' tags were created, given that there are so few questions about the people concerned. Perhaps it reflects the interests of the people who created the tags? Or perhaps there are different views about the function of tags on the site? Jul 31, 2019 at 10:19
  • @sempaiscuba: I was kind of hoping that this question would discuss what we want to do with it. :-) Btw, I've edited the question to factor in what has been discussed so far. You can likely clear out the barn cats. Jul 31, 2019 at 10:28

2 Answers 2


The main issue with people tags is that, most of the time, they don't really seem very useful. The purpose of tags is to help with search; for the most part, we can just search for the name of the person. Questions about an individual will ipso facto mention them by name, reducing the utility of having a specific tag.

However, in some cases, they can be very useful. The primary benefit of these tags is to filter out questions that just happen to mention an individual's name, but isn't actually asking about that person. Nonetheless, this isn't really much of a concern other than for a select few figures of outsized importance, most of whom do have their own tags.

Of course the root of the issue is that there's limited real estate for tags, so we should be somewhat judicious about what to turn into tags. Unevenly applied tags is almost as bad as not having tags at all in the first place, since it forces users to do more searches to find untagged content, defeating the tag's purpose in the first place.

The tag is clearly weird and should probably be renamed or , and synonymised.

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    Speaking of renaming the alexander-the-great tag, only mods can do that. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/87437/how-to-rename-a-tag Jul 31, 2019 at 16:15
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    @DenisdeBernardy It is now done. I wanted to let people have a chance to potentially object; there being no dissent, I've gone ahead with renaming alexander-iii-greece into alexander-the-great- and synonmised both with alexander-iii-macedon.
    – Semaphore
    Aug 9, 2019 at 20:33

IMO there are a few characters in history that attract enough interest to warrant getting a tag. Call them tier-1 characters. If we've more than a few questions about them, then they probably deserve a tag for use by future newcomers who would like to ask about these people.

Which people do get a tag is something I think we can leave to the judgement of whoever opts to create them. Those who can create tags usually know enough about history to decide that Napoleon is obviously tier-1 and deserves a tag; that names that rise above the surface, such as Lafayette or Talleyrand, might deserve one too; and that a more obscure character, like Auguste de Marmont, is probably too localized to deserve one (however notorious he was in his days).

The format should be unequivocal, and we can use a simple Google search for guidance:

  • Some names are unambiguous and make good tags as is. There is only one Hitler that matters. There is only one Napoleon proper; the other is Napoleon is always referred to as Napoleon III -- or Napoleon Le Petit, for the acquainted.

  • Names like Charles II are more ambiguous, so warrant a country suffix: vs vs .

  • If someone creates an ambiguous name tag and we notice, the correct thing to do is to retag the question(s) so the tag gets deleted.

These tags should only be used for questions about that are actually about that person. That being said, seeing what I'm finding through cursory searches, it seems that most questions that mention a person explicitly are indeed about that person.

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