We currently have the tag, with the tag wiki excerpt

For questions regarding a star and the area comprising its gravitational dominance. While they are not part of its technical definition, it colloquially refers to the planets, moons, asteroids and other bodies orbiting the star.

Some people - in the real world, not just Worldbuilding - use “Solar System” (note the capitals) to refer to our Solar System, that is, the Sun and all the bodies that orbit it. Others use it to refer to any system of one or more stars and objects orbiting it. We appear to use this second definition here, although only partially. It’s poorly worded, and I think I’m allowed to say as much because I did some (or most of) of the editing that made it confusing.

At any rate, we currently use it according to both definitions, and I feel this is a bit confusing. On the one hand, we have questions like Where in the solar system is the most viable place to put my colonists, after Mars and Luna?, which use the tag to refer to the Solar System. On the other hand, we have questions like Nine Different Earths in One System--How to Make That Possible, which use the tag to refer to a completely fictional system of planets orbiting a star. I’d argue that we need two different tags in these situations, because the Solar System is much more than any old planetary system. Lumping it under a general tag referring to planetary systems would be like getting rid of the tag and just using instead.

Here’s my proposal. We split into two tags:

  • , to be used for questions about the Solar System.
  • or [tag:planetary system], to be used for questions about other planetary systems, real or imaginary. This would also encompass asteroid belts, extrasolar equivalents of the Oort Cloud, etc. It would be more than the tag, because it deals with interactions between planets and with/between other non-planetary objects in the system.

I’d consider having be a third tag, but 1) worldbuilders are rarely concerned with stars if there are no planets, and 2) the tag should be sufficient.

If we do decide to split the tags, though, it’s going to take a while to figure out which questions deserve what tag, since it seems like there are a lot of cases where could be used but was not used (incorrectly) instead. This is something that would have to be addressed if we go back and do some retagging to add consistency.

What are people’s thoughts on this? Do we need to fix the issues with the use of the tag, should we create a tag to fill in the gaps, and how can we deal with the retagging?


3 Answers 3


I can see the reasoning for splitting the tags- there could be someone who knows a lot about the Solar System who doesn't know much about solar systems in general. The opposite could also be true. It's essentially the difference between theoretical and applied knowledge, you either know about how solar systems work or about how this one does (or both or neither).

However, I don't trust the average Worldbuilding user to know which tag to use if we make a second one. We could manually retag for them, but like you mention it might already be difficult to figure out how to retag the questions we already have, I don't want to add a process for retagging questions indefinitely.

So while I agree this is a problem, I don't want to fix it. One tag with two somewhat similar definitions shouldn't be that much of a problem, but confusing users and constantly retagging questions could be.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Would it be less ambiguous if the one tag were the-solar-system or our-solar-system or something to that effect? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio maybe, but I guess only as long as both tags could not be confused. Like if you type "solar-system" you should get both options to come up, and not be confused which one you should use. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ I meant if the tags were named the-solar-system and planetary-systems. The former would come up if you started to type "solar-system", but there wouldn't be a solar-system tag. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio Yeah, that's the problem I see. If someone is looking for solar-system and only finds the-solar-system, they might choose it even if they actually want planetary-systems. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I see. Yeah, that seems like a problem. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 19:46

I don't really see a large enough difference between the two to warrant the work and confusion that would go into splitting it up.

I never considered that 'solar system' specifically meant the things in orbit around our star vs other stars.
I'm not sure what you'd call the system around say Barnard's Star, other than 'The Barnard System' I suppose.

Either way, having two tags that are basically the same thing is only going to cause confusion and tagging mistakes.
If anything, remove solar system completely and only have [planetary system], and let the user specify that it's Sol that they are referring to.


I see the merit behind this, that some questions aren't about THE solar system, but are about planetary / solar systems in general, so it makes sense to split them up.

However, I can also see the reverse argument, they are both similar in terms of question style so why split.

Personally, I think there should be a split between THE solar system and solar / planetary systems in general


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