Kudos to @hippietrail for starting off the country-citizen tags for all the various visa issues.

However, for example we have:

, and .

Anyone see the problem yet? Inconsistency!

Either we have the locality itself, OR the demomym, but we can't vary, surely. And what about nz - it should be really?

So either locality:

, , and

or demonym:

, and

or we just go for what sounds correct in my head:

, and

which the only way I can provide consistency for is to say - "It's what Google suggests".

I'm not sure. Out of the first two, locality sounds less awkward. I prefer the Google Rule. Your thoughts? Locality, Demonym, or Google Rule?

  • I need russian-citizens! For example, for this question
    – VMAtm
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 12:54

4 Answers 4


I think the "google suggest" solution is intuitive because it is actually based on attributive nouns or adjectives, not demonyms.

I am not expert in linguistics but I think a demonym is not always an adjectival form. Therefore we should say either a New Zealander, or a New Zealand citizen, because 'New Zealand' is the adjectival form for the country. We can say an Australian or an Australian citizen because Australian is both a demonym and adjective.

So the tags could be based on these adjectival forms. Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook have a list of these for countries.

Maybe the people on English.SE can answer this question, I didn't find anything useful there.

The results will then be , and so on.

  • Well there's still no adjective for New Zealand. In both New Zealander and New Zealand citizen there are only nouns. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 3:17
  • 1
    @hippietrail kiwi-citizens is adjective! Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 3:46
  • @HaLaBi: Nope. kiwi-citizens is a noun phrase and both elements of the phrase are nouns. Adjectives have certain properties such as being able to be compared in sentences like "this citizen is kiwier than that citizen" or "this citizen is more kiwi than that citizen". Both adjectives and nouns can be used to modify nouns. A noun used this way is called an attributive noun. Then again "kiwi" is so colloquial it's hard to talk about what's correct so people probably do say things like "he's more kiwi than you". Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 4:08
  • @hippietrail well, it can be compared! Mark Mayo is kiwier than you. Isn't that true :D Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 4:13
  • And you are the Saudiest person I know! d-: Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 4:15
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    @hippietrail apparently ''New Zealand'' is also an adjective, according to Wikipedia (I updated the link). Even the CIA factbook (I think it is trustable enough) claims ''New Zealand'' could be an adjective.
    – Vince
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 11:50
  • I think this is the evidence that they're not trustable sources on the topic of English grammar. Here's some links about nouns being used attributively: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]. The point about "chicken" in "chicken soup" not being an adjective is quite a good example. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 14:20
  • @hippietrail Thanks indeed 'adjective' is not the right word, apparently 'adjectival' could be used and include attributive nouns and adjectives. I updated the post to fix that.
    – Vince
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 14:57
  • Using Google's preference is not a bad way to decide really. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 15:10

Actually there is another kind of consistency: shortest unambiguous:

aus-citizens could be for Australia or Austria for instance.

I abbreviated where I could. eu-citizens and us-citizens. There may also be uk-citizens.

But you can't abbreviate all countries because if we're not careful and abbreviated pakistan-citizens we could make something offensive for instance.

  • 2
    Abbreviations suck. They should be avoided unless the abbreviation is extremely common (e.g. UK, USA, perhaps EU in a pinch — but not Aus or Austra (which is the shortest unambiguous)). Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 19:11
  • Well when I wrote "shortest unambiguous" I think I meant shortest usual variant, not shortest possible abbreviation whether in use or not. The other time abbreviations shouldn't be avoided is of course when the full variant is too long for the tag length limit. Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 17:20

I would go for demonyms because there's a standard we can stick to. Google Suggest results cannot be a 'standard' as they may change.

  • 1
    so you want new-zealander-citizens ?? It sounds awful :(
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 11:18
  • Also, how cool a word is demonym :)
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 11:19
  • 1
    On a scale of 1 to demonym, 'new-zealander' is closer to 1. That's how cool 'demonym' is. Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 11:24
  • I believe demonyms are nouns, so New Zealander citizen would not be correct. See on English.SE, they wonder the same thing about [Singaporeans](english.stackexchange.com/questions/18332/why-is-this-show-called-singapore-idol-not-singaporean-idol). I suggested it in an answer below.
    – Vince
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 8:36
  • @Vince: new-zealander is a noun, so your logic is flawed. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 3:14

Why not using the ISO two-letter country codes, aka country code top level domain designations?


  • Unique. ISO may be a bunch of wrapped in red tape bureaucrats, but at least they got this right -- every country that issues passports has one, including some lesser dependent territories and geographical areas.
  • Unambiguous. Even if your country has a lot of alternative spellings, it will have one and only ISO country code. This will reduce the tag synonyms required.
  • Short. Two letters. It can't get any shorter than that. Imagine what a tag for those unfortunate Saint Vincent and the Grenadines would look like:

    Quite a mouthful, no? If you think that's unrealistic and contrived example, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina would certainly beg to differ.

  • Everybody knows their cctLD. I mean, seriously. I wouldn't tag a question with pe-citizens unless I hold a passport from said South American country. Besides, tag wikis could contain the whole country name, which will be visible on mouse-over.

Now, disadvantages:

  • Difficult to search by tag. That might be a deal-breaker for a lot of people. For example, you might want to check all tags related to your country -- and the way tag search works, you won't be able to get this in the results if you start typing your country's name.
  • Frequent retagging on behalf of new users. Newcomers would naturally write their whole country's name when asked for tags, and it would occur to few people to type their ccTLD code. This would mean either having synonyms (which kind of defeats the purpose) or put up with constant retagging.

I don't think this is the best solution by any means, but at least the idea of ISO country codes bears some consideration and can be expanded or modified further. From my unscientific study, Travel-SE has an inordinate amount of tags compared to similarly-sized SE sites, and with the site growth, this number will expand faster, as new locations, countries and cities will be added as tags. But this is a rant for different post.

  • 2
    Because despite the geeky name of the site stack exchange we also want to attract non geeks. Also some places I already made tags for are not countries, like the European Union tag eu-citizens. Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 20:45
  • 1
    I think this works if you use synonyms. So have a tag us-citizens, but synonym usa-citizen american-citizen america-citizen and so on. People can type what they like, and search what they like, but the basic taxonomy is in place. Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 17:09
  • If I could up vote this twice I would. This is exactly why the ISO creates these standards, so if you ever need a short unambiguous way to refer to a country they've already figured it out.
    – Molomby
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 7:33
  • @hippietrail; I don't think it will put off non-techs. Surely everyone on the web knows TLDs exist (even if they don't know what they're called) and everybody will recognise their own countries TLD. Any issues searching by tag can be solved through tag aliases and the issue with EU (and UK) is basically mute as the standard covers them too.
    – Molomby
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 7:40
  • 1
    What about stateless people or people from disputed territories? I guess no matter where you're from, if you can get a passport, it's the nation issuing your passport that we refer to in these "citizen" tags. So Tibetans might have Chinese passports whether they like it or not and Abkhazians might have Russian passports though almost every country in the world recognizes them as Georgian citizens and Taiwanese have Taiwanese passports even if China doesn't like it and Palestinians have various passports ... Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 7:47
  • 2
    Note that uk-citizens would not be citizens of the U.K. under this scheme, but citizens of Ukraine. There may be some other confusing ones too. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 7:48
  • @hippietrail: The problem is that ISO 3166≠CCTLD: According to CCTLD, uk- is United Kingdom, according to ISO that would be Ukraine and the UK would be gb-
    – Anaphory
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 11:11

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