I created the tag on yesterday (Jul 25, 2018), for the following reasons:

  • Searching for "what am i" closed:no score:0.. (post containing "what am i" which are neither closed nor have a negative score) gives me 1029 results, so this is clearly an important kind of riddle.

  • It aids searching for people who

    • are checking for duplicate riddles before asking (I think this is very important)
    • might particularly enjoy, or even specialise in, What-Am-I riddles (sometimes easier than other kinds in my experience)
  • There are not any good tags for What-Am-I riddles, most only fit into the tag, and so end up with only one very general tag.

I wanted to see how the new tag would be received, so I proposed edits on the tag guidance and wiki, and waited to see what would happen. Both edits got one accept first, and then one reject from Glorfindel with the comment I'm not sure we need a separate tag for this. The guidance was accepted in the end, but then the tag was edited out of my question by Alconja. This meant that the tag wiki was orphaned, causing the system to reject the pending edit.

I really want to learn here, so I posted this question to find out:

  • Is this tag a bad idea, and if so, why?

  • When should puzzle-specific tags be created?

  • $\begingroup$ Not an answer, but how a tag wiki edit is received isn't a very good measure of how a tag will be received. Your wiki edits were good, but the tag itself is dubious (see my related comments in chat). FWIW, ffao's answer mirrors my opinion of the tag itself and is why I removed it. I can't think of a riddle that isn't a "what/who is/am it/I?" puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Jul 27, 2018 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Alconja, I didn't expect the tag wiki to measure how good the tag was, but I expected it to come to the attention of higher-rep users, which is exactly what happened. That part worked just fine : ). I also fully agree with ffao, after reading the answer. $\endgroup$
    – hat
    Jul 27, 2018 at 6:49

2 Answers 2


I thought the point in Gareth's comment was important enough that it deserved to be turned into an actual answer:

We already have a tag for "what am I?" puzzles, and it's called (from the tag description: "indirect clues about an unnamed object or concept to be identified" -- identifying unnamed objects is exactly what a "what-am-I" is about). So a tag, if it were to be created, would be at most a synonym of the tag.

The real issue is frequently people take to be a synonym of puzzle, by which train of thought pretty much every question on this site could be tagged riddle (it wouldn't be a very useful tag in that case!). The recourse we have against that is removing the riddle tag from questions in which it doesn't apply, and trying to keep it only in the actual identifying questions.

  • $\begingroup$ PS: this makes me wonder if it would be worthwhile to rename the riddle tag to lower misuse, but I feel like the resident riddlers would not be too happy with such a change. $\endgroup$
    – ffao
    Jul 26, 2018 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ Good strong argument, I have to agree with you on both points. If the riddle tag actually has its proper meaning I have no trouble with using it. Thank you for providing the guidance needed! $\endgroup$
    – hat
    Jul 27, 2018 at 6:53

I have no very strong opinion on whether this would be a good tag to have, but here's what seems like the best argument against: You can usually turn a "What am I?" riddle into a non-WAI one, or vice versa, with a minor rephrasing that scarcely changes the actual puzzle.

For instance, if in your riddle "I" were replaced with "it" throughout, the result would be an almost exactly equivalent riddle (the only difference being that the version with "I" encourages the reader to think of an answer that's a person while the version with "it" suggests the reverse).

I think this makes the tag less useful for duplicate-checking or finding half-remembered riddles, because e.g. a WAI riddle might have a more-or-less-duplicate that happened not to be expresesd in "I" form.

  • $\begingroup$ I thought about that, and the issue could be overcome by a few tag synonyms: who-am-i, what-is-it, ... $\endgroup$
    – hat
    Jul 26, 2018 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ Is it clear that this really identifies a specific kind of riddle? Almost all the puzzles tagged [riddle] that aren't really other kinds of puzzle that merely have a riddly element to them are in some sense "who/what am I / is it?" puzzles. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan Mod
    Jul 26, 2018 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ You're right there. Thanks for catching that error in the title, my spelling isn't always what it should be. $\endgroup$
    – hat
    Jul 27, 2018 at 6:51

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