Is it appropriate to update a question's tags given:

  • the tag is technically irrelevant to the content of the question itself

  • BUT is relevant to the answer (well voted or correct, of course)?

Two Examples:

  1. Species ID questions will typically ask what kind of XXX something is and tag the question with XXX. However, the species is actually a YYY -- which gets pointed out in the answer -- so should it be tagged with YYY?

  2. This question. It asks about pigments in food, but the answers are rather plant/animal focused. Should a botany or zoology tag be added to the question although it doesn't ask directly about either one?

My opinion is YES because people searching for similar questions later would benefit from coming across questions with tag-relevant answers.


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Could others please comment on this (and fileunderwater's answer/comments). Though @fileunderwater's answer makes sense, it's lack of upvotes (really, any voting) along with an overall lack of response from others to this question in general leave me wanting a larger discussion among more users..... $\endgroup$ Mar 6, 2017 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Re-tagging questions based on the answers $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2017 at 10:37

3 Answers 3


I mostly agree with @fileunderwater's answer but came across another example where I thought retagging was clearly appropriate so decided to make a separate answer:

What is this small tissue structure found in kidney?

I added the "endocrinology" tag to that question, because the answer is that the structure referenced was in fact an endocrine gland. Based on the question, it wasn't really possible for the asker to know that tag was relevant, or for someone else who doesn't know the answer to add the tag, but I still think it's appropriate to add a tag in this circumstance. It isn't that the tag isn't relevant to the question: it is.

For your example (2), the reason I would say not to tag those things is in part because those particular tags are incredibly broad, and not particularly relevant to the content. Good answers to that question need not address either or both of zoology and botany, even if the current answers do.


To me, the first should definitely be retagged (since the current tag is incorrect), but I'm hestant to the second one. The question doesn't have anything directly to do with either botany or zoology, even though those are used as examples in the answers.

Generally, obviously missing or incorrect tags should be edited, but I think tags should have a clear connection to the question (which is why I find you second example problematic). However, if answers show that the question is framed in the wrong way (indicating missing tags) or based on factually incorrect information the tags should be changed.

  • $\begingroup$ So assume the scenario in which someone asks "what species of spider is this?" with an arachnology tag but the specimen is in fact not a spider but rather an insect. Do you suggest that the arachnology tag should be dropped (and the entomology tag added if not already present)?? Would you suggest changing their question and it's phrasing to reflect it being an insect not a spider? (i.e, change the title to "what species of insect is this?). This would of course be problematic if the whole question is framed in the context of a spider. What's the best practice here.... $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2017 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist I think retagging it would be appropriate, but not rephrasing it if that would change the entire meaning of the question. In your example, the OP clearly came to ask at BioSE about the "spider" they had found. On the other hand, changing "spider" to "insect" in the title would probably be rather unproblematic for an open-ended species id question. It would be interesting to hear what other users have to say though. $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2017 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ I noticed you rolled back my edits on the question I mention in #2 above. I'm actually surprised you did. I initially hesitated adding the botany tag after you responded to this question. However, after reading the other meta post you linked to in the comments above, I became convinced that re-tagging posts based on "quality answers" was appropriate and accepted (7 upvotes to AMR's response there vs 0 here). $\endgroup$ Apr 10, 2017 at 22:45

I absolutely agree with user @theforestecologis 's proposal.

Whatever our view to study is interdisciplinary or not; the nature is itself interdisciplinary... so there are connections or correlations among different areas and ways of studies.

So theoretically it is possible an asker asked a question focused within subject or topic X; but its answer lies within subject or topic Y. So it is obviously okay to add or replace tags based on answer.


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