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Okay, we have two tags:


For questions about creatures that are not found on Earth. These can be anything from dragons to Pegasus to your own made-up creature. They just need to not exist on this Earth.
392 Questions


For questions relating to races that are often found in the fantasy subgenre of fiction, such as elves, dwarves, etc. This can be about their physical characteristics, their societies, or something completely different.
208 Questions

I don't see anything in Meta about the difference. Both are well-used. A mere 20 questions have both tags. My guess is that questioners or editors find one, add it, and are done. But there's a lot of overlap.

Tag badges. No one has a silver or gold tag badge for either tag.
7 people have a bronze tag badge for . Only 1 person has a bronze tag badge for (that person also has the first badge).

has the following uses (50 most recent questions, not comprehensive):

  • Generic monsters/evil/beasts
  • Giant
  • Troll
  • Zombies
  • Wyvern
  • Dragon
  • Elves
  • Phoenix
  • Angel
  • Succubus
  • Merfolk
  • Centaur
  • Unicorn
  • Vampire

has the following uses (50 most recent questions, not comprehensive):

  • Dwarves
  • Vampire
  • Goblin
  • Faeries
  • Drider
  • Immortal being
  • Elves
  • Angel
  • Pixies
  • Demons
  • Troll
  • Chimeras
  • Orcs
  • Satyr/faun
  • Harpies
  • Cyclops
  • Merfolk

I trust you all see the problem.

Basically, these tags could be synonyms of each other. I can see how and why there might be a division. But:

  1. Lots of creatures fit into both, no matter how you define the categories.
  2. Nobody pays the slightest attention.

These are both widely-used tags with a very small number of questions using both.

  • Do we make one a synonym of the other?
  • Do we combine them?
  • Do we redefine them to create a significant difference then retag hundreds of questions?
  • Or redefine without any re-tagging except going forward?
  • Do nothing?

Or???


ADDITIONS:

  1. There is now a synonym proposal up. Please vote.
  2. elemtilas has gone through all tagged questions and edited tags as needed.
  3. I submitted edits to the user guidance sections for both tags and both have been approved (the longer info sections still need editing but I wanted to see where this discussion went first).
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    $\begingroup$ I'm all for making them synonims. $\endgroup$ – Renan Feb 8 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Renan your comment made me realize I didn't look up tag badges. I edited my question to reflect that issue. One person would lose one badge (I assume) if these were made synonyms. Not bad. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 8 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ the progress from tue synonim ends up being merged with the progress on the main tag. $\endgroup$ – Renan Feb 8 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Renan I figured that's how it worked. But someone with a tag badge for each will end up with one tag badge and more progress towards the silver badge, right? $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 9 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ from what I've seen from synonymization in other sites, yes. $\endgroup$ – Renan Feb 9 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ Are there any moderators who'd like to weigh in? Is there are formal request process, beyond posting there? $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 9 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ Looks to me at a glance like mythical-creatures is meant to be a superset of fantasy-races. Quite a few of the ones you mention already have their own tags, or could probably benefit from having their own respective tags (we do have centaur and vampires and merfolk, for example; and that's just from looking up a few at random). There isn't really an established synonym-request process, except for posting on Meta and showing some kind of community consensus for it being worthwhile, usually by making the proposal in an answer that the community can vote on. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Feb 9 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ @aCVn Okay I have done this. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 9 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ In my opinion, a race and a creature are two different things. But people use them interchangebly. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Feb 9 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Vincent Sure, they're different. Until they're not. I mean fantasy races are Elves and Fairies. Mythical creatures are Pegasus and Cyclops. Unless Cyclopses are a community, then maybe they're a fantasy race. And what about Giants? They're in both classical mythology and standard issue fairy tales or fantasy stories. Is the division where they come from? Or if they're solitary vs a group? Or is it if they're more like animals vs sentient humanoids? Is a horse-like unicorn a mythical creature but a talking unicorn part of a fantasy race? Where do you draw the line? $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 9 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, at what point can we move forward? We have 41 views, 3-5 positive votes (aside from me), and 4 people (other than me) commenting. What's the next step? I have enough rep and upvotes on the tags to request a synonym. Should I? $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 11 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, I just went ahead and proposed it. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/tags/mythical-creatures/… $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 11 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ The Loch Ness monster is a mythical creature, but definetly not a fantasy race... $\endgroup$ – Bex Feb 14 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ I'd argue the difference is humanoids vs. non-humanoids but from your analysis it doesn't appear that distinction is being made by the site's population at large, in which case synonymizing seems fine with me. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 18 at 21:50
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I propose we:

Keep as the primary tag:


For questions about creatures that are not found on Earth. These can be anything from dragons to Pegasus to your own made-up creature. They just need to not exist on this Earth. 392 Questions

And make this tag a synonym for it (merging them):


For questions relating to races that are often found in the fantasy subgenre of fiction, such as elves, dwarves, etc. This can be about their physical characteristics, their societies, or something completely different. 208 Questions

This proposal does not change, add, or delete any other tags that may be related.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 and you have my sword. $\endgroup$ – Renan Feb 10 at 1:45
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    $\begingroup$ I'm good with this. And frankly, I'd be willing to bet the only difference (originally) was that fantasy-races were critters found in the Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook while mythical-creatures were found in the Monster Manual. (Edition 1, of course.... I still have them! Somewhere....) Also, thanks for contributing to tag maintenance! $\endgroup$ – JBH Feb 10 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Renan - Please check out worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/tags/mythical-creatures/… $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 11 at 19:48
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Semantically and sensically, they mean quite different things.

"Creatures" (whether mythical, extant or extinct) are generally considered to be "animals" (yes, I know humans are animals). This tag simply deals with creatures, that is animals, that are found in myths, legends, fantasies, fables and so forth.

"Races" (whether fantasy, extant or extinct) are generally considered to be some kind of "people". This tag deals with self-aware, conscious sophonts. Beings that would be considered the near-equal, equal or super-equal of humans.

I'd urge keeping them separate as they really are not synonymous. Perhaps clarify (by example) what is expected when using either tag. If there is any overlap (both tags used in one question), I think it would be a better idea to review the questions and edit out the inappropriate tag. That is, remove "fantasy races" from a query about unicorns, for example. I'd be happy to do that.

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  • $\begingroup$ If we were earlier in the process, your explanation would make a lot of sense. Right now though, we're talking hundreds of re-tags. Plus some going forward, even with good tag descriptions. Maybe if we renamed [mythical-creatures] to [mythical-animals]? And is animals vs people (or do you mean non-sentient vs sentient?) the original intent of the tags? $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 12 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it seems better late than never! I don't think [mythical-creatures] needs to be renamed necessarily, though [mythical-animals] could be a synonym. I do believe creatures / animals vs people / sophonts the original intent of the tags. That's generally the dividing line I've seen all across worldbuilding, fantasy, sci-fi, etc forums. Sure, there are some grey areas and entities that could fit into either; but there are far more that are distinct enough that I think a merge doesn't serve the purpose. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Feb 12 at 3:21
  • $\begingroup$ Got you down to two queries with both tags, and those queries either involve both mythical creatures and fantasy races or involve the evolution of both creatures and people. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Feb 12 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ Wow you are dedicated. You went through dozens of posts... $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 12 at 6:57
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I think most of the random picking happens because it should be 4 tags not 2.

Mythical and Fantasy are distinctly different concepts AND Creatures and Races are distinctly different as well; so, when people have to pick which tag to use, there is often an eenie-meenie-miney-mo moment. This leads to inconsistency where you might see something weird like a question about unicorns tagged with a fantasy-race tag because the author is asking about DnD unicorns and not Biblical unicorns, and (s)he cares more about that distinction than whether it is technically a creature or a race.

Elemtilas pointed out the difference between races and creatures quite well; so, I'll just summarize that as being the difference between sentient and non-sentient beings.

As for Mythical and Fantasy: mythical means that it is something that originates from religious traditions or stories that groups of people generally accepted as true at some point. Mythical beings have generally been a part of our collective consciousness for hundreds or thousands of years. Fantasy are beings that are knowingly invented for entertainment, hypothetical consideration, etc.

So, how the OP's list would break down would look like:

  • Generic monsters/evil/beasts [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Giant [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Troll [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Zombies [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Wyvern [Mythical-Creature] or [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Dragon [Mythical-Creature] or [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Elves [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Phoenix [Mythical-Creature] or [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Angel [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Succubus [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Merfolk [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Centaur [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Unicorn [Mythical-Creature] or [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Vampire [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Dwarves [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Goblin [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Faeries [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Drider [Fantasy-Race]
  • Immortal being [Fantasy-Race]
  • Pixies [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Demons [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Chimeras [Mythical-Creature] or [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Orcs [Fantasy-Race]
  • Satyr/faun [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Harpies [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]
  • Cyclops [Mythical-Race] or [Fantasy-Race]

Plus a few examples of pure Fantasy beings that are not part of any mythos:

  • Cyborgs [Fantasy-Race]
  • Androids [Fantasy-Race]
  • Smurfs [Fantasy-Race]
  • Wookies [Fantasy-Race]
  • Kryptonians [Fantasy-Race]
  • Klingons [Fantasy-Race]
  • Gnolls [Fantasy-Race]
  • Illithid [Fantasy-Race]
  • Drow [Fantasy-Race]
  • Beholders [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Pokemon [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Trebles [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Wargs [Fantasy-Creature]
  • Tyranids [Fantasy-Creature]

Now if you read this list, it looks like pretty much everything is Fantasy meaning you could in theory drop the mythical tag all together, but there is a problem with that. Having come back to this question a few times, I think the OP actually underlined with his analytics why they belong as 2 tags when he said, "Both are well-used (but) A mere 20 questions have both tags." This lack of overlap is itself evidence that most people see them as two different things.

As for the importance of the distinction between Fantasy & Mythology, it is because a person well versed in pop-culture will likely know more about Fantasy beings whereas a person well versed in literature or theology may have better insights into Mythological beings. Likewise, it is important to distinguish races from creatures because a question about a race will often require insights into Psychology and Sociology whereas creatures will normally focus more of Biology and Zoology backgrounds.

Another less obvious application of these diversified tags is when a being is heavily steeped in both Fantasy AND Mythology so that you know how to frame your answer. For example, a question about Vampires as they apply to Medieval superstitions would have the [Mythical-Race] tag whereas a question about sparkly skinned Twilight vampires may have the [Fantasy-Race] tag. That way you don't get irrelevant references to Dracula in a question about Edward Cullen.

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  • $\begingroup$ You are absolutely right about how things maybe ought to be divided (though I'd say there are a lot more gray areas than you have). The issue is about tagging posts and what is helpful to users. We could easily divide things up by giving a tag to every named creature/race (and we've done this a bit, to the point that some think it's too much). Does it actually help users to have separate creature/races tags for fantasy vs mythological (we already have actual tags for those things)? Does it help users to have separate tags for creatures vs races? $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 12 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ Based on the small size of the WorldBuilding Community, I'd call that a firm maybe. In bigger communities, people often follow specific tags to filter out the noise of what they are not specialists in; so, as the community grows, it would help filter biologist, psychologists, movie/game enthusiasts, etc to the most appropriate topics. Also, many people come to stack exchange sites through Search Engine results. The AI behind search engines reward proper grouping of logical topics so by derandomizing tag distribution, you are more likely to drive new users here. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Feb 12 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I looked it up and you are right that we have all 4 sub-tags, but I know that fantasy is currently being debated for removal as being too broad to be helpful. Perhaps we should nix both of these tags and encourage people to mix and match the 4 broader tags? $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Feb 12 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ I think you're talking about a huge overhaul that will take a lot of work to sort out with old posts and work going forward, with floods of old posts rising to the top of the queue and all for potentially little gain. I'm not against it, I'm just not yet convinced. I'm sure @elemtilas has an opinion... $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 12 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ Sry, I read that earlier, then realized the fantasy tag discussion was not recent but almost 4 yrs old. worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1830/… So, seems that idea's already been put to rest. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Feb 12 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate the links to older discussions. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 12 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ Never trust the Hot Posts box. They are are lie. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Feb 12 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ All fantady can be traced back to one myth or another at some point, so I see no difference between them. $\endgroup$ – Renan Feb 12 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Even when that is the case, there is often a huge difference between fantasy reimaginings and mythical origins. Putting a mythical or fantasy tag on a question about elves is like putting a hard-science or reality check tag on a question about ecosystems. It sets the scope of acceptable answers. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Feb 13 at 0:23
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    $\begingroup$ Which is all fine if people use them. I just today had to retag a new question. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 13 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it's a good idea but it's (probably) too complicated for most users. They will constantly mix the tags. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Feb 13 at 23:57
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The Loch Ness monster is a mythical creature, but definetly not a fantasy race...

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Many entities fit neatly into one of these categories and not at all into the other. Your answer is really a comment though...would you like to flesh it out with more details and discussion of other members of these categories? What is your opinion about how we should change/organize the tags? $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 14 at 18:27

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