It often happens that a quite ill-posed question uses tags that are relevant to the question, but that the answer(s) lead(s) to the question core, which is often a different field of Biology.

  • Take Is addiction adaptive? as a quite random example case. The question is not neuroscience at all, likely because OP is not into that field. OP starts talking about feather pecking, which is, to my opinion, irrelevant to the question proper. Instead, I basically tried to tease out the question core and answer the relevant part, namely 'what is addiction'. This, however, is all about neuroscience. That tag was not included, likely because OP was expecting a more behavioral and evolutionary answer.

This is an example; it happens quite often that users dissect the question, take away incorrect assumptions, strip off the fluff and expose the question core. Then, my question is:

Should (preferably more experienced) users then decide to edit the tags?

Personally, I am hesitant to change the question proper, because there is a potential chance that OP did mean something different with the question. Additional tags, on the other hand, may draw in potential other answers without shifting question focus per se.

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    $\begingroup$ On Quora, the tags should be specific to the question and not the answers. However, questions are considered the property of the community and not the OP and if the questions are edited then the tags should be changed accordingly. $\endgroup$
    – bobthejoe
    Mar 3, 2016 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


As far as I understand the purpose of the Stack Exchange model, it is to provide expert answers, subject to peer review, to questions that could be of interest to a population greater than that of OP.

That being said, the users that have built up reputation by providing quality, expert answers, are the ones also given the keys to making and approving edits.

As such, it is assumed that their knowledge and expertise in the subject matter is such that they are in the best position to assign questions to the tags that best reflect the questions and also the answers.

Take, for example, HIV versus AIDS. Questions specifically related to AIDS are also relevant to HIV, as HIV is the virus that gives rise to the syndrome. However, and this may be entirely pedantic, a question about HIV does not necessarily need to be about AIDS. If someone asks "How does the AIDS virus integrate into people's cells?" I would say that should be edited to How does HIV infect a host cell and integrate into the host genome? Also if they tagged with , then I would say that tag should be removed and replaced with the tag, as the virus does not necessarily lead to the syndrome (with proper antiretroviral treatment or very rare plasma membrane receptor mutations), and the virus' tropism isn't really a question related to the syndrome that it is capable of causing.

Tags are important as they target search. So if a quality answer is provided to a question, that may be of a different or broader scope than the original, because of the fact that you have a better understanding of the subject that the OP, then I think that it is perfectly valid to change or add to the tags, as the answer will likely be useful to people keyword searching on that subject.

  • $\begingroup$ I think aids and hiv should be synonymous for the level of detail we deal here. $\endgroup$
    Dec 19, 2015 at 5:42
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG This is a good example where the question is specifically related to the symptom and not the virus itself, while this one is an example where the question deals specifically with the virus and not the syndrome. Though reviewing my edits of tags, I may have been overly generous applying both tags to a question that was marginally relevant to both. $\endgroup$
    – AMR
    Dec 19, 2015 at 6:24
  • $\begingroup$ And this one really has nothing to do with the syndrome. Any how, I was using that as just one example I was familiar with of how someone with more than passing experience in the subject would be better equipped to assign tags than the question OP. $\endgroup$
    – AMR
    Dec 19, 2015 at 6:30
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    $\begingroup$ These are very fine differences and IMO we do not need separate tags. It is too fine a classification and is not necessary for this site (perhaps only required for a site dedicated for HIV-AIDS). $\endgroup$
    Dec 19, 2015 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ So polio virus could be associated with paralysis, but polio virus used to treat glioblastoma multiforme has nothing to do with paralysis. But by your logic, we would have (polio-virus-paralysis)(GBM)(Oncology). The virus and its mechanism is separate from the disease that it can cause. A person studying GP120 and ways of disrupting the interaction with CD4, may have no interest in comorbidities related AIDS. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean that it isn't the correct way to handle it going forward. $\endgroup$
    – AMR
    Dec 19, 2015 at 7:13
  • $\begingroup$ No paralysis is a general phenomenon and is not associated exclusively with polio-virus. However, if a situation warrants the usage of polio-virus in a different context from poliomyelitis then they can have different tags. HIV and AIDS don't have that level of separation. Yes lentiviruses and retroviruses have applications. PS: I am not throwing any logic; yes logically HIV and AIDS are different. I am just talking in the sense of practice. $\endgroup$
    Dec 19, 2015 at 7:56

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