Can we vote here to approve these synonyms or edit their description to make it clear why they are different?
There are two different concepts at play here:
- A shared room arrangement, where two or more people share the exact same bedroom.
- A shared home arrangement, where each person gets their own bedroom, but the overall house/apartment/accommodation is shared between multiple people.
In my opinion, the distinction between these types of housing, as well as the questions that come up on this site related to these, is high enough that the two should be represented by separate tags.
There are different types of questions that are asked about someone who's sharing the exact same room, versus those asked about someone who's sharing the same accommodation but not the same room; for instance, a question about differences in sleeping times in the former, versus a question about home common areas in the latter. (I'm aware of living arrangements that combine the two, with shared rooms within a house/apartment, but the point is, there are different questions to be asked about a person you're sharing a room with vs. merely sharing common areas.)
Therefore, I disagree with the proposal to make both housemates and flatmates synonyms of roommates. I think roommates should be redefined to only mean questions about interacting with someone you're sharing a bedroom with (with a tag wiki that clearly explains so), and housemates to mean questions about interacting with someone you're sharing a house/apartment/accommodation with but not the bedroom. (I favor having housemates as the master and flatmates as a synonym, because the former is more generic while the latter consists of a slang term.)
I'd also like to address a language difference, which could explain the confusion between the terms used in the tags and why users tend to get confused as to which tag to use:
- In American English, it's typical to refer to both the former and latter types of people as "roommates", even though they're not sharing the same room. There's no wording distinction between the two.
- In British English, "roommate" refers to the former type only (i.e. sharing the same room). The term used for the latter type (sharing the same accommodation but not the same room) varies from place to place, with both "housemates" and "flatmates" being used. (Technically, there is a distinction between these two words with regards to whether a house or an apartment - "flat" in British slang - is being shared, but I don't think that's a distinction we need on this site considering our questions.)