Since we're soon going into a contest that's all about adding questions to tags, let's make sure the tags are in fact clear. There are several tags I am unsure how to apply. Which could well be a hindrance to them being used.

  • What is the difference between and ? We've discussed this in the past, but as I recall, have reached no conclusion.
  • is for "any physical devices or artefacts used in the writing process, as well as software tools (which should additionally include the Software tag). For questions regarding process, methodology, or organization, use the Technique tag." So, it's a conglomerate of , , and some more questions in a similar line? Currently, the tag is applied to many questions that are actually about process etc. We'd need to go over older questions and remove the inappropriate tag. Also change the tag's usage guidance, so it's clearer.
  • - what's it supposed to be about? "Can cover plotting, characterization, style, methodology, one-offs vs. series, distribution, formatting, and logistics." Appears rather confusing, I think. I find this tag so confusing, that, honestly, I'd remove it completely. Instead, "distribution, formatting, and logistics" would logically go under , "one-offs vs. series" would go under , and the rest all have their own tags.
  • - another one I don't know what to apply to. How is it different from ? Same question for - how is it different from ?
  • Speaking of , why do we also have ? What makes them different?
  • is both for how to motivate yourself to write (similar to ) and for characters' motivation. Isn't it odd to have one tag for two completely unrelated issues?
  • and seem to be pretty much about the same thing. And both are little used. Why do we have two of them, instead of one being a synonym of the other?
  • Speaking of tag synonyms, there are several proposed synonyms hanging around for over a year now, with nobody voting, or even looking at them. What's up with that?

Does anyone have a better understanding of those tags, and could clarify?

  • 2
    Regarding plot and plotting, I could see a difference being one being about the result, and the other being about the process. I don't think that's a useful distinction to make in our case, though (and I'm not even sure that's the case here, not having looked them over).
    – user
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 11:52
  • I agree about book. That's kind of a pointless tag here. Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 2:24
  • And I thought I was posting a lot about tags and doing a lot of retagging! :-)
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 2:39
  • @aCVn looked at plotting. It's supposed to be about graphical representation of a dataset, as Cyn points out in her answer. Only, none of the 8 questions tagged [plotting] use the tag as it's "supposed" to be used. Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 14:23
  • That'll teach me to look before I comment. I hope. :)
    – user
    Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


I don't think is a useful tag. We should go look at the questions that have this tag and don't have either or (there are a bunch). Sometimes the question isn't about tools at all and the tag can be safely removed; other times it was used to mean "process" (as noted in the question), and we should add more appropriate tags.

I went through a first batch of them (don't want to flood the front page with edits). In the process I created one tag, , because of a question about DITA versus S1000D. There are likely to be a few other questions that should get this tag, but probably not many. If anybody can think of a better alternative, please go ahead and edit. (We have a tag, but I think we should keep that -- DITA is well-known in the technical-writing world.)

  • Not sure what I think about [standards]. I'm not familiar enough with tech writing.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 2:53
  • @Cyn in some domains there are standards, by which I mean either templates (like those from IEEE) or "schemas" (like DITA). There might be a better term for this that's eluding me right now; if we identify it, renaming a tag is easy. Or if we decide it's not needed, we can remove it. It seemed better to add it (to avoid losing track of the question) than ignore it, but none of this is carved in stone. Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 3:08
  • Standards I'm sure has a meaning in some fields but, like tools, it has other meanings. But templates sounds useful.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 4:34
  • "Templates" could refer to the process of using or creating them (e.g. Word templates). But until we have a candidate question, it's hypothetical. "Templates" wouldn't describe all standards; for example, it doesn't describe S1000D. Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 4:40
  • Are the standards you speak of specific to tech writing? If so, we could name it [tech-writing-standards] which isn't the longest tag out there and at least is clear.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 15:20
  • We could also just drop it until more of a need emerges. I'm fine with that; it's only on the one question and in retrospect it's probably not the best tag. Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 15:45
  • 1
    I'll defer to your knowledge about the needs of tech writers.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 15:58
  • Please see: writing.meta.stackexchange.com/a/2010/32946
    – Cyn
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 15:08

— Seems like a reasonable tag to me. Though should be a synonym of it. I don't see the need for both. If we clarify that means physical tools that are not computers, we can point people to for the rest. Yes to merging with .

is very broad but does give us a category that is useful: a stand-alone book. As opposed to: blogs, magazines, articles, lectures, poems, short stories, etc. Some of the above can be in books but are not the book itself. Not all books are novels (not even all fiction books are novels).

and overlap but are not the same thing. I'd keep them separate. But and seem the same to me. Can someone chime in on the history? Why are they separate and should they remain that way?

is not at all the same as and we should not merge them.

This tag should be used for questions about plotting as a technical term used for the graphical representation of a data set, such as questions about tools or software that can assist you in visualizing the plot of your fictional novel.

— I agree with you. A character's motivation is not the same as motivating yourself to write. Some way to differentiate is good, and can mean moving things over to the tag.

I didn't know about the synonyms link. Please also see my answer today on an old SE Meta post.

For various character tags, please see my recent post: What is the difference between [characters] and [character-development]?

  • The problem with tools is that the vast majority of writers these days use software to write, and if they talk about tools they mean editors and layout programs and suchlike, not physical tools. If we keep tools but mean only physical tools, we're going to see lots of mistagging. Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 3:10
  • 1
    (By the way, it's hard to vote on an "omnibus" answer like this; I agree with some parts and disagree with others, but I can only vote in one direction.) Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 3:11
  • Sorry @MonicaCellio it was a long question :-)
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 4:33
  • Then maybe keep writing-instruments and junk tools?
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 4:33
  • I think software and writing-instruments both make sense (as subsets of "tools", so to speak). I haven't seen another type of tool yet, though I haven't reviewed all the questions. If we find one, I think we'll probably want a more-specific tag. "Tools" is too broad IMO. Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 4:38
  • Computers and word processor and typewriters are all machines (mostly electric but not all) that are not writing-instruments (well not in the way I imagine it).
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 4:42
  • Yup -- but do we have questions about them? (The first two would probably be questions about software, which is already covered.) Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 4:44
  • @MonicaCellio Computers and software aren't the same things. I don't know if we have questions about computers themselves or about typewriters for that matter. I'm just saying that [tools] covers them but the other tags don't.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 5:01
  • 1
    I know they're not the same thing, but what's an example of an on-topic question about computers that's not about software? If we have them, shouldn't we tag them computer-hardware or something like that? A "tools" bucket that includes MS Word, laptop keyboards, and fountain pens doesn't seem all that helpful to me. Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 5:03
  • @MonicaCellio You said "I haven't seen another type of tool" and I was giving an example. I really don't feel like going through all the questions either. I'm going to focus on book categories for minors right now.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 5:07
  • @MonicaCellio ok so I looked up "typewriter" and arrgh there is a tag called [typing]. What the actual heck? writing.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/typing And yes there are questions about which keyboard is best. I also found another tool that isn't software or for writing by hand...dictation equipment. There are questions about that too.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 5:21
  • @MonicaCellio So what's the consensus? Keep tools, but remove it from all the questions that are actually about process, and make sure it is used correctly henceforth? Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 14:49
  • @Galastel it doesn't look like we have consensus. I think we should remove [tools] in favor of [software], [writing-instruments], and, it appears, [hardware]. Cyn thinks [tools] is useful. Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 15:04
  • @MonicaCellio I won't block consensus over it. If others want to remove [tools] altogether, it's not that big a deal to me. I just support the side of keeping them (with clearer instructions).
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 15:05
  • 1
    @Galastel hmmmm, then maybe punt [plotting]? Is there a need for it with its stated meaning?
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 15:05

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