We currently have two tags, and , which have a very large amount of overlap with the former more or less being a subset of the latter. There are only seven questions on the tag despite the large number of werewolf questions on Worldbuilding SE. There are also a large number of werewolf-related questions that involve the tag but do not include the tag, including:

How would a modern military deal with an organized uprising from a group of werewolves? (this question originally did not have the tag, I added it on 1/13/2021 to try to increase my score in the tag high enough to propose the synonymy without bothering Meta.
Is there any scientific reason why only a silver bullet can harm a werewolf??
What changes to the brain would occur in a werewolf transformation?
What foods will lycanthropes and vampirism-afflicted individuals need to avoid?
Could An Intelligent Werewolf Talk?

Most of the questions about werewolves are more broadly applicable to shapeshifters, or vice versa.

I tried to propose synonymizing the tag with the tag, but for some reason I am unable to despite having a score of more than 5 on this tag. So I am proposing the change here.

There might be an argument that the two could be separate, but the broader issue is that while the topics of these posts involve both the and tags, the five tag limit for Stack Overflow means the posts cannot be tagged with both without sacrificing other tags.

For reference: tag synonimisation and merging.



I believe werewolves are unique enough to not be considered simple shapeshifters. Here are some common aspects werewolves have (although not all at once):

  • They possess enhanced senses in human form.
  • They can transform into a wolf-like form. The exact description usually varies but it's very often not a normal wolf, nor a human. A bipedal creature with wolf head and claws but otherwise human-like in shape is common.
  • They are tied to the night and the moon. Often the full moon. The exact link tends to vary but often it's when the transformation can or does take place.
  • There is an element of animalism and losing humanity to the wild animal in a lot of werewolf fiction. Werewolves in human form might prefer raw meat or trying to "hunt" (at least attempt to) for food. In their wolf-like form they might lose rational thought or find it very hard to think like a human.
  • The werewolf condition is very often tied to "evil" in some way. A curse is a common way to become a werewolf, this curse can be passed onto others. A more "scientific" interpretation of the same concept is a disease. Historically, werewolves have been blamed on pacts with the devil or straight up evil spirits coming back to terrorise the living. Overall, it's not a condition one willingly takes and it's a burden.
  • Silver is frequently a weakness for werewolves. Sometimes silver bullets, other times anything used to injure them that is silver, other times still the mere touch or presence of silver can affect them.

These are just some of the elements that werewolf fiction shares. Yes, there are many variants and it's hard to find any two that are exactly the same in the elements they cover and how they cover it. However, there are still certain set of expectations for a werewolf that don't hold up at all for shapeshifters.

A shapeshifter is anybody who can turn into other forms. There is a wide variety of them in fiction and myth but very often they:

  • are willing - that's in contrast with a lot of werewolves where the transformation is forced upon them or becoming a werewolf is.
  • turn into "normal" animals - a lot of shapeshifters can turn into a fox, or a dog, or a swan, or a rat, etc. Even a wolf. Some even are animals that turn into humans. However, the implication is that they are indistinguishable from other members of the same species. Not a human-wolf(/fox/dog/swan/rat/etc) hybrid monstrosity that nobody would consider to be natural.

Werewolves can broadly fall under "shapeshifters" because they change shapes but I'd argue that's not enough to merge the two tags. We haven't merged with and I suspect most would agree we shouldn't. The main problem is that vampires are very specialised, not "just a sub-species of undead". Yes, you could argue that not all vampires are undead but that's a moot point - we wouldn't eliminate just to replace it with or or or anything else (I hope) because works for classifying questions correctly.

Above all, tags are for categorising the content. If a question truly does pertain to both shapeshifters and werewolves, it should be tagged as both. However, I'd have different expectation if it was tagged with just one or the other.

  • $\begingroup$ I do note that OP is not suggesting the tags be merged but rather that werewolf become a synonym for shapeshifter. As I understand it, one tag is simply a subset of another. Even though you clarify some key distinctions of werewolfdom, you don't / can't actually argue that werewolves aren't shapeshifters. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jan 14 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas when tag a becomes a synonym to b, it becomes interchangeable with it. All questions tagged a will now show b and you cannot add a again - it just gets substituted with b. So, it synonymising is merging. Unfortunately, there is no tag hierarchy - it's all flat. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 14 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ And, no, I won't claim werewolves aren't shapeshifters. I'm saying that werewolves are distinct enough from shapeshifters to deserve their own tag. The same way we have a tag for vampire instead of using undead. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 14 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, so the linked Q&A is somewhat misleading. I see what you mean now. Otherwise, I don't disagree that werewolves are distinct enough (mostly though having specific folklore surrounding them). In this case, I think two tags are better than one! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jan 14 at 16:52

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