Yesterday, I edited various posts containing questions about ants, to add the "ant" tag. Four of these were rejected, with the same reason given:

How do ants sense imminent rainfall? - the edit was https://biology.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/62047

What happens to an ant colony when the queen dies? - the edit was https://biology.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/62048

Why don't all ants have wings? - the edit was https://biology.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/62046

Do ant pheromones indicate the direction to go? - the edit was https://biology.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/62045

In all four cases, the reason given for rejection was "This edit introduces tags that do not help to define the topic of the question. Tags should help to describe what the question is about, not just what it contains."

I can't understand how these questions could be considered not to be about ants! If the second question had been, for instance, "What happens to a social insect colony when the queen dies", then I would agree that it might contain ants, but not be about them. However, that question specifically asked about colonies of ants. The first question focused on a piece of alleged behaviour specifically in ants, the fourth was focused on the way ants use pheromones to communicate...

Adding the tags surely also makes it easier for someone looking for questions about ants to find them.

I apologise if "Why was my edit rejected?" questions are frowned upon in Biology Meta. But I really don't understand what I did wrong here, and I'm worried about triggering an edit ban if any more get rejected.

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    $\begingroup$ As an aside, thanks for raising this meta question in a well-reasoned and appropriate manner that doesn't assume malice by the moderators/community. If you do plan to edit more of these, I'd ask that you continue to do just a few at a time, even if you gain privileges to do more. Since we are a smaller site, a lot of people just read the questions at the top, and if someone bumps a lot of old questions it gets easy to swamp out all the newer questions. (this is more of a personal preference rather than moderator decree, by the way :) ) $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Jan 6, 2020 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @BryanKrause - your point is taken, and I'll keep the retags and other minor edits to a few at a time. (That particular day, I'd had a couple of minutes to spare while waiting for something. Not enough to write a post, but I thought a few tag edits would fill the time). $\endgroup$ Jan 6, 2020 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


We appreciate your efforts to improve this site's posts and why would you be frowned upon for asking for a clarification?. However...

Tags are used to identify certain classes of questions. Questions on insects should carry the tag. If we start making tags for every family out there family Formicidae in this case), we can start creating tags for some 1,000 to 20,000 families, dependent on the estimate of the total number of families in existence. We'd rather not.

The tag already exists, with 67 Qs out of >400 Qs tagged with and it's likely my own opinion to dislike this kind of specific tag. It's a gray area for sure. Since in this case there are >400 Qs on this topic, it's perhaps worthwhile to have these Qs tagged with it. Point taken. My bad.

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    $\begingroup$ If there are lots of questions about ants, why not have an ant tag? $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Jan 5, 2020 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer there are some 400 Qs on it. Indeed we can do that, but as I argue above, I'd oppose the idea. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Jan 5, 2020 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ Nobody is proposing creating a tag for every family, though; just for the ones that are asked about frequently. We already have tags for humans, Drosophila, yeast and E. coli, for example. I don’t necessarily think there should be a tag for ants either, but I can’t think of a good reason why there shouldn’t be. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Jan 5, 2020 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer - we could, but to make it useful, the previous Qs should be tagged as well. To randomly pick 4 Qs and tag'em with 'ants' doesn't really make much sense to me. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Jan 5, 2020 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ @canadianer and AliceD - This isn't creating a new tag - the 'ant' tag already exists. According to biology.stackexchange.com/tags/ant/info it was created 5 years and 6 months ago by winerd. Several questions were already tagged with it even before I joined Biology.SE $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2020 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ I even checked the Wayback Machine - see web.archive.org/web/20150906003646/https://… $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2020 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Astrid_Redfern - I didn't find it when searching for the tag. Maybe this was my bad. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Jan 5, 2020 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ My bad. Go for it, tag'em, the mod team can approve them. I'm not particularly fond of this type of tag, but that's me. Canadianer is with you ;-) Thanks for your post. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Jan 5, 2020 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks - all four edits resubmitted. I'd have tagged more, but there seems to be a limit on the number of edits I can have in the review queue. $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2020 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD You wrote entynmology instead of entomology, I'd edit it myself but I can't. $\endgroup$
    – Thymine
    Jan 8, 2020 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Thymine - corrected, thanks! It should be Antomology in light of this question haha $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Jan 8, 2020 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ Apparently the study of ants is myrmecology, as if anyone has ever heard that word before. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Jan 8, 2020 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ @canadianer yes of course -- many ecologists know that word. However, none of us know how to pronounce it! :p $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2020 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer - interesting, in Dutch the word for 'ant' is 'mier', which is pronounced much like the latin 'myr' I reckon. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Jan 31, 2020 at 8:00

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