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In a recent answer to an old question (Synonymize [Military] and [Army]) @JanMurphy suggested revisiting how we tag questions about military records.

At the moment we have or could have tags for:

To assess how our community would like to see questions about military records tagged I will provide two "opposite" answers but feel free to add others if you think there is a better way.

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    A couple of thoughts: Do all countries separate military services in this way? (Examples: Air was originally part of Army in U.S., Navy still has its own air component. In other countries, Marines are part of the Navy). Are there other military services or specialties that could generate questions (and more tags)? (Example: militias, submarines). And finally, should the definition of military-records be expanded beyond service records to include logs, unit histories, and other records, which are not necessarily officially generated and might have event details but not names of individuals?
    – bgwiehle
    Jan 14 '15 at 13:59
  • @bgwiehle I'm mainly familiar with Australian, UK and US defence forces but I tend to think a simple classification of land (Army), sea (Navy) and air (Air Force) with synonyms from their broad equivalents in other languages may be the appropriate level of granularity.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jan 14 '15 at 22:21
  • One thing to consider: looking at the StackGenealogy Twitter feed, some of the tags on our questions transmogrify into Twitter hashtags. So I think we should take that into consideration for our entire tag inventory. Ideally I would like to see a Twitter hashtag of #genealogy on all the StackGenealogy Tweets.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Jan 23 '15 at 18:54
  • @JanMurphy Sounds like a good idea that we should discuss in Meta GF&H as per meta.stackexchange.com/q/225175 which I have expanded to meta.genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/1973/…
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jan 24 '15 at 6:20
  • @PolyGeo Just noticed that today's navy question was remapped to military-records. There seems to be a consensus here that they shouldn't all be synonyms, and wondered if/when they could be un-synonymized. I think it makes sense for military-records to be used for questions about records, but the other tags are also useful.
    – Harry V. Mod
    Nov 26 '15 at 15:28
  • @vervet I think you are right. I did not get a chance to implement today but plan to tomorrow.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Nov 27 '15 at 11:14
  • @vervet I just removed the synonyms from army and navy to military-records as per the consensus achieved below. There was no synonym in place for air-force so I did nothing related to that.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Nov 27 '15 at 22:11
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At present, we have only a few tags concerning military matters that I can find:

x111
"For questions about documents pertaining to military personnel or units, including service records, muster rolls, medal rolls, casualty lists, regimental log books, etc."
is a synonym of this tag.

x20
"The sea-going arm of the military forces of a country."

x14
"Used with questions concerning the records created and kept concerning the military forces of the United Kingdom."

x2
"A branch of the United States Armed Forces. This tag should be used for questions about finding or obtaining records of this branch, the meaning of parts of the record, or other questions pertaining to genealogy and the Marine Corps."

The use of and as synonyms of was discussed above, but these appear no longer to exist, while is not a synonym but stands alone.

So right now, it's a bit of a mess. I have used the "british-army" tag as it seemed appropriate for my questions, without ever considering if it is actually an appropriate tag to have on the site. "british-army" does seem like a "useful" tag, where I can click on it and see all the closely-related questions that may well be of interest. And that's surely the point of a tag. But it doesn't seem right to have "british-army" without having "us-army" and all the others, and that would tag overload. "us-marine-corps" has much the same problem.

"military-records" is fine and useful, but doesn't really cover questions that don't directly and solely concern records, such as Why would a regular soldier join a militia?, which asks if such a transfer was likely. Given that @JanMurphy and @HarryVervet have helpfully been cleaning up tags for baptisms and marriages and burials and cemeteries, using "topic-records" and "topic-practices", I suggest we aim for consistency with that effort by adding to cover those subjects?

Reinstating army, navy, airforce (and marine corps?) as full tags without national affiliations would allow simple filtering to related records (as @JanMurphy noted for the navy tag), . The "related tags" field on the right of the screen then allows cumulative filtering (e.g. "military-practices" then "army" then "united-kingdom"), and should achieve much of the utility of the "british-army" etc tags.


In summary, this post is proposing use of the following set of tags for military questions:

  • : For questions about finding or interpreting records of military personnel or units, including service records, muster rolls, medal rolls, casualty lists, and regimental log books.
  • : For questions about the operation, traditions, and laws of the armed forces.
  • : For questions about the land-based branch of the military.
  • : For questions about the sea-going or maritime branch of the military, including the marines.
  • : For questions about the branch of the military that conducts aerial warfare.
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  • I've upvoted this because I think it aligns quite closely with my answer and I would be happy with either being implemented.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jan 9 '17 at 23:20
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    I have added a summary of the tags to be created, with usage guidances - please edit if there are any changes needed. I would like this to be implemented but don't want to rush it and get it wrong, since it will involve quite a bit of re-tagging. More specialized tags can be created in the future, but at present I think there is little need to do so because the volume of questions is so low.
    – Harry V. Mod
    Jan 14 '17 at 15:09
  • @HarryVervet: that's a nice, clear summary, thank you. I'm still not sure it's right though. Every solution to this seems to have either too few tags, or too many. But too few must be a better starting point, it is surely preferable to add new tags on demand than to have to manage hundreds of unused ones.
    – AndyW
    Jan 15 '17 at 15:50
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    This has been implemented, with military-practices being created and the british-army and us-marine-corps tags removed. I have retagged questions that were obviously tagged incorrectly but I'm sure I missed some
    – Harry V. Mod
    Jan 28 '17 at 14:08
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Use four tags:

  • - for land forces
  • - for sea forces
  • - for air forces
  • - for anything that does not fit the above simple classification (e.g. for multiple forces, for when something like Marines does not quite fit). Can be used on its own or in conjunction with above tags.
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    Only using military-records when there are multiple branches renders the tag useless. First, the question will still likely have the service-specific tags. Second, how often will somebody want to search for a question involving at least two services but definitely not only one? Not a usecase we should pander to.
    – user47
    Jan 14 '15 at 15:07
  • @JustinY In the context of Genealogy I would say many start out not knowing which branch of service their family member was in and in the US many of the record searches are not branch specific. There are exceptions and specialized resources too, but we are not a military history forum either where granularity of branch would be more useful.
    – CRSouser
    Jan 14 '15 at 15:31
  • @CRSouser I agree. I think the military-records is useful. It's the specific requirement of it's use proposed by this answer that I disagree with.
    – user47
    Jan 14 '15 at 15:37
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Continue to use a single tag of with these synonyms:

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  • @CRSouser I've rolled back the addition of Marines to this list to try and keep a simple classification of land (Army), sea (Navy) and air (Air Force).
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jan 14 '15 at 22:23
  • I think that changes the answer and what we are trying to answer here then as the branches exist in multiple countries and many would make a clear distinction between them.
    – CRSouser
    Jan 14 '15 at 22:25
  • @CRSouser I think of Marines as being US centric (despite Royal Marines) but if you feel strongly that they should be included separately then perhaps you "cloning" this answer and adding them may be useful.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jan 14 '15 at 22:42

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