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We have four very closely related tags - , , , - of whose usage patterns I'm not entirely sure. The tag wiki excerpts aren't really helpful either, and I don't think these four tags are consistently being used differently.

Are these four tags different enough to actually merit different tags?

In theory, we could use the clues tags for puzzles containing just a few crossword-style clues, and the crosswords tags for puzzles containing entire crosswords, while using cryptic if the crossword clues are in rigorous CC style and not if they aren't.

In practice, are the tags actually being used this way? (I don't think so, but I haven't checked in detail.) Is it feasible to enforce them being used this way? (Bear in mind that hardly anyone reads tag wikis, and people often use the tags which sound like the might apply, leaving it to others to retag if needed.) If not, should we merge them into just one or two tags with clearer usage guidance?

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Each of these tags is distinct and has a purpose.

  • - for posts that contain entire cryptic (British-style) crosswords
  • - for posts that contain cryptic (British-style) crossword clues, without the grid
  • - for posts that contain entire American-style crosswords
  • - for posts that contain American-style crossword clues, without the grid

Your suggestion would eliminate one of the tags, but at the expense of further muddying the definitions. A tag would be more likely to be misused than any of the tags above. I can see it being tossed into detective stories or even riddles, by well-meaning but clueless (pun intended) users.

I think each of these tags serves a purpose and they're reasonably well-defined, so no change is necessary.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh, a clues tag would definitely be horribly misused. I never suggested that :-) IMO, `crossword-clues] could cover the lot: a crossword is just a puzzle made of crossword clues, and the cryptic stuff is just a special case of crossword clues. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Oct 31 '17 at 15:56
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The tag wiki seems to make it fairly clear how these should be used:

Maybe that last one is unnecessary, on the grounds that it's really only cryptic crossword clues that can meaningfully deserve PSE questions of their own (whether they're being set as puzzles, or the question is "how does this work?" or "please help me make a good clue" or whatever).

How are they used in practice?

  • is indeed mostly used for cryptic crosswords. Occasionally it gets used for individual clues.
  • is indeed mostly used for crosswords whose clues aren't standard cryptic clues. Occasionally it gets used for individual clues (sometimes cryptics) or cryptic crosswords.
  • is indeed mostly used for individual cryptic clues, or for other puzzles that use cryptic clues.
  • is a bit of mixed bag, being used for cryptic clues and not-cryptic clues and other puzzles that maybe have something slightly crossword-clue-ish about them. But there are a fair number of questions in there that do feature crossword clues that aren't cryptic ones, suggesting that this tag probably does have a valid purpose.

My inclination would be to leave the tags as they are, see if we can improve the descriptions a bit, and maybe do some cleanup on questions tagged with these tags (though I think the errors are mostly "false positives" which are fairly benign).

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  • $\begingroup$ Shouldn't a crossword built out of cryptic clues also get crosswords as well as cryptic-crosswords? In the same way that geometry questions are tagged mathematics as well as geometry. We have subsets and supersets in the tagging system, even if the system doesn't technically support such classification, and I think this is another such case. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Oct 31 '17 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ The description of the crosswords tag seems to suggest using cryptic-crosswords instead when applicable. My own prejudices are for "inclusive" usage (I expect this to be a general thing among mathematicians) but I suspect that in "nested" cases like this it will be very difficult to get people to be either consistently inclusive or consistently exclusive. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Mod Oct 31 '17 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ But we could try e.g. by making the crosswords tag description say either "Please use cryptic-crosswords instead for crosswords with cryptic clues" or "Please use cryptic-crosswords as well for crosswords with cryptic clues". (Or some more carefully wordsmithed version of one of those.) $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Mod Oct 31 '17 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, we definitely need clearer tag wiki excerpts IMO. When two or more tags seem very similar, it's usually worth explicitly mentioning each one in the wiki excerpt of the other (e.g. puzzle-identification and reverse-puzzling). $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Oct 31 '17 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with that principle. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Mod Oct 31 '17 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ I have made some edits to the tag wikis and excerpts. I hope they're improvements, but I worry that the excerpts may now be longer than is ideal. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Mod Nov 10 '17 at 17:34

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