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I've noticed there does not seem to be a whole lot of consistency with the , , and tags.

I think they all have their place, but their use is not yet well defined.

For we have in the wiki:

This tag may be used for:

  • questions about the study and practice of palaeography
  • requests for assistance in deciphering and/or interpreting handwriting

This makes perfect sense. The other two tags have no usage guidance defined, but on some questions seem to be used instead of palaeography.

For example, looking at the 10 questions to date, I think 6 would be better tagged instead:

The 4 questions that I think are tagged properly are:

I don't think any of the above questions should be tagged both and , though it is possible a question could be asked in the future that may need both. A question that could probably be tagged with both: Is there a transcription standard that separates unclear words from added words? I think the distinction between the tags is that palaeography questions tend to be about reading or interpretting a single record or small number of records, while transcriptions questions are generally more broad in scope (not about reading handwriting).

So for the usage guidance for I might propose:

For questions about making or using transcriptions of genealogical documents, and transcription practices or projects. For questions about deciphering and interpreting handwriting, use the "palaeography" tag.

Obviously defining it in this way would require a few of the above questions to be re-tagged, but I think it would be easier to do now than at a later stage when gets further overused.


is somewhat related as a lot of palaeography questions in foreign languages also have this tag. I see no problem with that overlap. I kind of question the usefulness of this tag since it is so vague; it makes me wonder whether it would be better to tag the language instead (or in addition?).

For example, I created the tag the other day as I thought this would be useful since a lot of early European genealogical records are in Latin. However, I can see that it might seem a bit silly to tag a question both and . At the same time, as the site grows, tagging the language might help French speakers more easily find questions about French palaeography and translations.


So...any thoughts or agreement/disagreement with better defining , , , language tags, etc.?

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    "However, I can see that it might seem a bit silly to tag a question both france and french." Not at all silly -- how else are you going to distinguish a question about France from a question about French-speaking people in Canada, the USA, or other locales? – Jan Murphy Oct 25 '15 at 21:47
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I would like to see reserved for questions about the study of palaeography and NOT for the second usage currently in the wiki. Note that Wikipedia's article says (emphasis mine):

Palaeography (UK) or paleography (US; ultimately from Greek: παλαιός, palaiós, "old", and γράφειν, graphein, "to write") is the study of ancient and historical handwriting (that is to say, of the forms and processes of writing, not the textual content of documents).

If someone is looking for tutorials on how to read old handwriting, why should they wade through all the Q/As where people have requested help with individual documents?

I don't have a good suggestion for what to call it yet, but in the same way we have , I'd like to have a specific tag for those posts where people need help with translation, transcription, or otherwise deciphering the handwriting.

Giving those questions a tag of their own would leave free for questions about getting advice about genealogical word lists, or the meaning of individual terms and how best to interpret them, and for questions about transcription standards and the like.

In regards to the question Is there a transcription standard that separates unclear words from added words?, I don't think it is proper to tag that . It is NOT about ancient and historical handwriting -- it is a question about modern standards of how to accurately convey the researcher's opinion about a reading of a historical document.

To sum up:

I think the distinction between the tags is that palaeography questions tend to be about reading or interpreting a single record or small number of records, while transcriptions questions are generally more broad in scope (not about reading handwriting).

I disagree with this. should be for the questions which are broad in scope. We need a new tag for the questions about reading or interpreting a single record, where the basic question is help with what word is in the record, not the definition or larger meaning/usage of the word.

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  • I completely agree that the term palaeography is not best term to use for handwriting deciphering questions, but I think in the genealogy communty, it is often (mis)used as a fancy or academic way of saying "reading and interpretting handwriting". A 'deciphering' tag would be preferable in my opinion, and more widely understood. – Harry V. Oct 29 '15 at 21:45

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