and strike me as very similar tags. How should their definitions differ and/or overlap?

  • It was more natural to me to think about selecting materials then medium. Medium fits the definition better is you were selecting paints or material for sculpting or carving. Perhaps these should not be used at all and have more specific selection tags like paint-selection. Would yarn be considered a medium? Perhaps yarn-selection is better for that one as well.
    – Matt
    May 18, 2016 at 15:00
  • I agree "material" is a little more natural, but I'm more crafter than artist ;) Technically, yarn is a medium, but I wouldn't necessarily think of that term first.
    – Erica
    May 18, 2016 at 15:01
  • 1
    If we do keep these tags a synonym would be in order to cover both uses. Same problem about which to pick as dominant. While I do some art I would also consider myself a crafter first.
    – Matt
    May 18, 2016 at 15:03
  • 1
    Medium, to me, implies drawing/painting/etc and what you're laying down or laying it down on. Material implies something you'll be working with, like fabric for clothing, yarn for knitting, etc. That said, that may not be enough of a distinction, so I'd really like to hear what others have to say.
    – user24
    May 18, 2016 at 15:06
  • @Matt There are also potentially cases where a user is asking about what wood to use, or perhaps even whether wood or plastic would be a better base for a project. Once we get into upcycling the possibilities increase even more. Some more specific tags are probably very appropriate, but only more specific tags could get overwhelmingly complex.
    – Erica
    May 18, 2016 at 15:09
  • @CreationEdge I snipped this off an art tutorial website. Not definitive obviously but something others would find: A medium refers to the materials that are used to create a work of art. The plural of medium is media. Some of the most common media are oil paints (paints that use oil to hold pigments together), tempera ... So it works like you say but it also might include something like yarn.
    – Matt
    May 18, 2016 at 15:10
  • @Erica Where to draw the line on those (a recurring theme in betas) is hard when we don't have the question base to support it :(
    – Matt
    May 18, 2016 at 15:13

2 Answers 2


After reading a little bit on the subjects it would seem they are the same thing. A couple of definition examples to support the similarities.


In the arts, a medium is a material used by an artist or designer to create a work.


A medium refers to the materials that are used to create a work of art.

I don't want to get hung up on those specific examples. Mostly to show a theme in the concept. Beyond that it seems accepted, in the art industry, that medium (or the plural: media) refers to the material that make up the art. Crafting is no considered in this definition but I think it still applies.

However materials is, to me at least, a more natural way to describe these things like: paints, canvas, wood, ceramics, yarn etc.

Therefor I think we should have as the tag but keep as a synonym so that people will still end up with the same tag.

The tag wiki excerpt could be something like this which should cover both definitions:

Question about select the materials or medium to be used in your project

  • And what if someone actually wants to know which type of material to use for a quilt, for example... "cloth-selection"? I don't know that synonymizing is the best solution.
    – Catija
    May 18, 2016 at 15:58
  • This came up in comments. We could consider this tag to be a meta tag and scrap it and used more specific selection tags like cloth-selection and wood-selection. I was trying to address this question and it is clearly the starting point of a larger discussion about the validity of this tag. Do we get specific now or later and is it worth it? What happens when the question does not know if they even want cloth or not (what material category or genre if you will). My Santa question I did not know what material genre to use so I went broad.
    – Matt
    May 18, 2016 at 16:06
  • 1
    No, my point was that "material" has two synonyms. - it means both "medium" and "cloth".
    – Catija
    May 18, 2016 at 16:09
  • @Catija I think that "medium-selection" + "fabric" would do the trick, there.
    – user24
    Dec 17, 2016 at 2:14
  • 1
    Since material and medium can be synonyms, and there's been confusion already that's likely to persist, I personally prefer the option of making them synonyms. We seem to take care of the "class" of medium already by including another tag, if possible, such as "paint" or "adhesive".
    – user24
    Dec 17, 2016 at 2:16
  • Do we just do it then? Don't really have a standing ovation for this yet.
    – Matt
    Dec 17, 2016 at 3:10

This hasn't received much attention, and to be honest I completely forgot it existed. I "rediscovered" the problem and started doing some tag cleanup when I realized the scope and then also found this question again.

By the time I realized my gaff, I'd already edited the tag wiki excerpts (but we can roll them back if we wish) based on how the tags were primarily being used:


When you are not sure what you material to use as a base for your project or task, such as type of fabric, paper or metal. Try to be detailed with your specifications to help narrow down choices.


For questions about selecting the media to be applied to a project, such as what type of paint, pencil or adhesive.

I had noticed that "medium" was generally referring to paint and glue, and a few about ink/markers1. So, it was the things being applied to the "material". "Material" was generally used to refer to types of cloth, or things used as the canvas or structure of project2.

It makes a logical type of sense, to me, to separate out the applied vs. base, unfortunately, I don't think the naming is very clear. Even with the more-distinct wiki excerpts, without better names I think the confusion will continue.

If using two tags this way is the direction we want to go, we can pace out the retagging changes necessary over the next few days (I've found quite a few questions that don't have either tag and should have one or the other).

If we'd rather have the tags be synonyms, please vote/discuss that relevant answer.

There was also the idea brought up to have more specific tags, such as or , so we could have other options here than the two currently listed.

1 10 out of 15 questions used it this way. (It's now 13:18 after my edits).
2 16 out of 19 questions used it this way. (It's now 16:16 after my edits.
3 Work required: About 5 questions would need to be retagged from to . It's a bit harder to narrow down, but there at least 7 "which/what type of ..." questions without *-selection tags on them.

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