The tag relationship-mapping already existed by the time I joined the site, with the very brief tag info of:

Determining the relationship between two people.

The user who created the tag is no longer active in the community.

Some prior discussion exists here:

On- and off-topic questions: kinship terms / relationship questions

Since then, this tag info has been added:

If you need to find the English-language term for the relationship between two members of a simple or complex family, the Steve Morse relationship calculator will help.

However, there have been some questions recently like If my aunt got married and had a child with her ex-husband, would that make my cousin's father's side of the family my family? where this tag has been used despite the relationship in question already being outlined in the question. So I am puzzled as to why this tag was applied here instead of the answer being closed as a duplicate of What is relationship of widower to late wife's family (i.e. in-laws)?. Why are any of the duplicates tagged with this tag?

The problematic questioners already know what the relationship is between the individuals in their questions -- the relationship doesn't need to be determined.

We have other legitimate questions that fit the scope of this site with this tag. Can we re-examine them and we envision what the ideal question for this tag might be?

Once we've done so, can we discuss what information should be in the tag info and tag wiki?

UPDATE: 30 Mar 2018

has been burninated and replaced as proposed with two more specific tags, and .

  • There's a case to be made that you could define genealogy as the intertwined tasks of "determining the identity of a person" and "determining the relationships between people". Is there any point in having a tag for "Determining the relationship between two people"? You might as well tag those questions with genealogy.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 0:19
  • I wonder whether what we have been tagging as relationship-mapping might not be better under a new tag of relationship-nomenclature i.e. what do you call the person with this convoluted "relationship" to me?
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 23:07

3 Answers 3


I suspect part of the problem is that every question has to have a tag and there isn't another tag that would fit the questions about legal/social implications of relationships within current family structures, so the OP clutches at a straw. We should not create a tag that covers that topic.

I do agree the tag info is misleading, as Jan Murphy has said: determining the relationship (or lack of it) between two people is the heart of genealogy.

Building on a suggestion by PolyGeo, perhaps we should:

  1. Rename to (that being a fairly widespread term in the genealogy (and anthropology)community, and is (should be) clearly only about the words used, not the implications. The tag wiki should be updated to make this very clear, perhaps "determining the name for the relationship between two people."
  2. Review the canonical answer to check that it is narrowly focussed on that subject (I think that it is).
  3. Review the existing questions with that tag to test whether they're narrowly focussed on the terminology issue (in which case it should almost always be the sole tag) and close them as a duplicate of the canonical question if so.
  4. For questions that are not about terminology, but about the legal/social implications of a relationship (or change of relationship) within living families, close them quickly and firmly as off-topic (we might need to update the off-topic help to point at).).
  5. For questions with multiple tags including it will usually be appropriate just to remove that tag and let the others stand.
  6. There may some questions with the tag that are about the implications of historical relationships e.g. "would my great-grandfather be able to marry his sister-in-law after his wife's death?" but these definitely aren't questions in any case and we should be able to identify something that fits ( in the case of my example.

We might also want to review the questions to see if any of them are really questions.

In response to Harry vervet's comment:

My understanding is that this tag is for more than just nomenclature (pretty much all "what-is-this-relationship-called" questions get closed). I agree that the current tag is not very useful but I think this might make it worse

from memory, it was intended to be about terminology but has since morphed into an unholy catch-all mess. IMO renaming it will help -- as long as we're strict about closing the off-topic Qs that clutch it as a straw.

  • You suggest: 'The tag wiki should be updated to make this very clear, perhaps "determining the name for the relationship between two people." ' This seems to me to invite the problematic behaviour we see now, where people post elaborate relationships to see if we can put a name to them. But when we are doing genealogy, it's far more likely that we have a description such as Junior/Senior that we are trying to decipher.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 22:47
  • @Jan I think the questions about naming relationshsips are inevitable (hence the canonical answer) but we don't want that tag used for anything else?
    – user6485
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 7:50
  • Let's say the "what do you call it" questions get tagged with kinship-terminology. I would like to see a tag wiki that advises the primary use of the tag is for asking questions when they need help interpreting a term which is discovered in a historical record. Newbies aren't likely to read this, but it would be something we can point to when we close the duplicates.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 22:36
  • @JanMurphy No problem with that approach, althugh we'll be closing them as dusplicates not as off-topic?
    – user6485
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 7:32

I have gone through the 61 questions which are currently (as of 4 Feb 2018) tagged with .

Jan and others have already described the downfalls of this tag, so I won't dwell on that.

What I propose below is based on the proposal of PolyGeo and ColeValleyGirl (whose idea I initially – and most shamefully – pooh-poohed).


My thought is that sufficiently nuanced kinship terminology questions, especially those that have good answers already, should not be closed as duplicates of the cannonical "what-is-this-relationship" question. However, you will note below that many have already been closed as duplicates, which is fine (they should still be tagged correctly).

"Relationship analysis", in my view, is more useful as a tag name than "relationship mapping", simply because it implies that there is a genealogical problem being solved. And it sufficiently distinguishes it from kinship terminology questions.

I have gone through every one of the 61 question and have re-assigned them as I believe is appropriate. Each question could be fit into one of the two categories, except for a handful which didn't need either (and probably should never have been tagged with relationship-mapping in the first place). Some were a little more subjective than others, but that is the nature of tagging. Based on my proposed re-tagging as below, I think this is a viable proposal.

I have also made note of any other tagging or closing issues I came accross in this process. There are other tags I came across – , , , – which I think also need attention, but I focussed on . We can address the others later in separate posts.

For the following questions re-tag to :

All are shown below as titled and tagged on 4 Feb 2018, before any tag changes occur. Updated 25 Mar 2018.

For the following questions re-tag as :

For the following questions remove entirely, and retag as appropriate:

UPDATE 25 Mar 2018: The following were re-tagged as proposed

I think it was a worthwhile exercise to go through all the questions before undertaking any major tag change. However I'd stress that the above "re-assignments" are all simply proposals, and I am very open to changing the above assignments if you disagree with any of my choices in particular.

  • That's a monumental effort. Was there a reason for choosing kinship terminology over relationship terminology? Would it be worth having a synonym of relationship-terminology to point at kinship-terminology?
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 7:19
  • @PolyGeo No particular reason other than I think it's easier to distinguish the two if they have more different names. But there's also something to be said for having both come up when someone types in "relationship".
    – Harry V. Mod
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 7:25
  • @PolyGeo I think there's something to be said for using a generally accepted term as the tag, rather than one we've made up. We can point form the tag wiki to reference material online for one thing.
    – user6485
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 10:13
  • @HarryVervet It will take me some time to go through your proposal and compare it with the detailed analysis I had been doing -- how do you want the discussion to proceed/ Should I edit your Answer with alternative proposals or agreement for each question? That seems easier for others to compare and contrast rather than posing a separate list...
    – user6485
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 10:16
  • @ColeValleyGirl Whatever is easier for you is fine. If this proposal was similar to what you had envisaged I'm fine with you editing this to add any alternative changes you think are needed.
    – Harry V. Mod
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 16:25
  • This will take some time to think about the re-tagging for the individual questions, but I upvoted to commend you for the effort.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 22:25
  • @HarryVervet I very much doubt I'm going to find time to go through this with a fine toothcomb, so am happy for it to go ahead -- it can only be an improvement on what we have at present.
    – user6485
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 14:15
  • Completed re-tagging as proposed.
    – Harry V. Mod
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 23:30

While we are pondering what tags we want on the site and how we want to divide the questions, I think we should consider carefully any collisions there might be with existing usage.

For example: 'kinship determination' has a specific meaning when used in the context of getting certified by the BCG. Judy G. Russell presented a BCG webinar which can be viewed for free: Kinship Determination: From Generation to Generation

In the handout, Russell says:

The key skill demonstrated in the KDP is the ability to document and explain the kinship of the persons included.

The questions such as "my blood relative married a relative of my girlfriend so does that make us related?" only touch on genealogy when the laws that say who can marry come into play. In my opinion, if living people are facing this situation, it's a legal question, not a genealogy question. It's only part of family history when the marriage took place (or didn't) in the past.

None of these "what do you call it when" questions involve the questioner trying to write a proof statement about their relationships based on evidence.

Perhaps Russell's bullet point is a hint to a way out of our problem -- that the questions here should be about how to document and explain the relationship.

  • 1
    Not sure I understand the issue here -- we're proposing kinship-terminology (which might also encompass 'who would be called a step-child in a nineteenth century English census, so it's a useful tag in it's own right, even if we close all the 'what do I call my mother's brother's cousins' aunt' questions as duplicates. Kinship determination is at the heart of genealogy -- do we really need a separate tag for it?
    – user6485
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 7:36

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