It seems many SE sites have some sort of concept of what I call "sub-tags", but it seems to be slightly different for this site as one tag literally is a subset of another. Granted, I know that there are 'ribozymes' that are enzymes made from RNA, but >99% of all enzymes are proteins to my knowledge. Since enzymes are almost an exact subset of proteins, should all enzyme questions be tagged as well?

Perhaps a better solution to avoid this redundancy would be to only tag if the question actually relates strongly to what proteins are and not just what certain enzymes do. However, it can be nice to have all protein related questions under one tag to make them easily searchable.

What are your thoughts on this? How should "sub-tags" be used on this site?

related question from meta.stackoverflow about sub-tags

Example question on this site: How does ATP-Synthase work?

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    $\begingroup$ We probably should use the [proteins] tag only when the question is about proteins in general, not for every question about a specific protein. Else it'll get useless pretty quick. $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2012 at 9:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Mad that depends on how many people we think will are specialized in proteins, as those people will want to be able to get to those questions as quickly as possible. I think the classification advantages are worth the effort; it would function kind of like a language tag on Stackoverflow. $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2012 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist Please make that an answer so I can vote it up. $\endgroup$
    – user24
    Jan 28, 2012 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


I can see this happening for a number of tags actually.

will likely nine times out of ten be a subset of or
(N.b. what do people thing about whether or not those two tags are actually distinct)?

has some children in the form of and etc.

And as the site has so far a quite an anthropocentric feel tags such as , , and will quite often be used as a subset of .

I personally am in favour of using a super-tag wherever and whenever appropriate, editing them in if missed by the OP. I realise that this will lead to some large tag sizes for a few tags however hopefully this will not have too great a detrimental effect on the tags usefulness. We will also have to be careful of the occasions where the sub-tag does not actually belong to its usual super-tag - e.g. this immunology tagged question would not fit human-biology.

Looking through the tag in particular, I see a lot of questions that have not been tagged in this sub/super tag style that I believe would benefit from it. If the change is to be made, it probably is a good idea to tackle it now whilst the problem is manageable.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree in general, and also want to point out that it is very useful to have distinct tags for photosynthesis (which can refer to algae or cyanobacteria for example, not just plants), botany and plant physiology. Plant physiology is a distinct term from botany, and refers specifically to the study of the functions of all or part of a plant. So a question about photosynthesis in plants would have all three tags, whereas one about phylogenetic relationships between plants might only have the botany tag. That's useful to me when filtering out which questions to look at first. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2012 at 12:55

Even thout you are correct that are in 99% , the reverse is not always true.

Enzymes are the proteins that server as biological catalysts, helping to mediate the chemical reactions. This is very important funtion of proteins, but not the only one.

Besides the enzymatic function proteins also have the structural (being building blocks), informational (convey information about something, for example MHC-proteins) and in some cases even the energetic ones (rare).

So, to put it in a nutshell: every enzyme is a protein, but not every protein is an enzyme.

  • $\begingroup$ It's like squares and rectangles. :) $\endgroup$
    – Aarthi
    Jan 25, 2012 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, I can't really see where you answered the question. You have logically proved that enzymes are a subset of proteins, but how does this correspond to the tags we should use for this type of relationship on the site? $\endgroup$ Jan 25, 2012 at 23:15

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