There have been two questions today that ask about writing related terms without specifying a writing related problem:

I have voted to close both questions as not about writing.

The names for different types of narratives are not writing. They are certainly helpful when we want to talk about writing, but you can write just as well without knowing them. Narrative terminology is a part of literary theory, and there is another site for that.

On the other hand, I don't mind these kinds of questions. Thinking about literary theory certainly helps me in my writing. But then, thinking about psychology – or anything else for that matter – helps me in my writing as well, and they are still not on topic here.

So what's the community opinion on "is there a name for"-questions? Do we want them, or do we close them?

2 Answers 2


We have already accepted terminology questions and have 43 questions with the tag. Many of these are not actually about writing terminology, but a significant number are. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't change it, but it is something we have been going.

You make the point that these questions may be better suited for Literature SE, but that doesn't mean that they aren't on topic here. You can ask a question about a scifi movie on Movies and TV SE and be on topic, even if it would be better on Scifi and Fantasy SE.

Also, people asking here are more likely asking because they want to be able to know more about a literary idea they want to use while on Literature SE questions (and answers) would be more focused around existing works. This is helping them as part of the writing process.

I personally see no reason to change the on topic rules relating to terminology questions.

  • 1
    Note. Many of those questions have nothing to do with writing terminology. For example, two are about how to use software terminology when writing documentation, another is about whether to use colloquial or technical terms, one asks for a synonym, asks for clarification on an English word, one asks for future words in SF, one is about graphic design terminology, one asks about types of writing, and so on. Only part of the questions are actually about writing or literature terminology, and in many instances that tag has been misapplied.
    – user29032
    May 10, 2018 at 8:22
  • @Cloudchaser Thanks for pointing that out, I'll edit to clarify. May 10, 2018 at 12:11

I would vote to leave such questions in; understanding writing terminology IS in my opinion about writing, and an answer might help an aspiring writer to research something and more professionally accomplish an idea that has occurred to them. For example, by googling the correct term, might find examples of that technique or style that are particularly famous, so they can see an example of how it is done.

Obviously (to me) such questions are not opinion questions or polling and might be helpful to others, as well. Tag edits could be done to ensure they are correctly tagged "terminology", so others might filter by it.

Knowing the lingo of a field is the key step to finding help and tutorial resources in the field, and that seems like the goal of Writing SE.

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