I was editing some questions yesterday and adding the tag to them.

Today I noticed that the tag got merged with .

This merging confused me and I'm not sure if it is correct.

The description of the tag is:

Use this tag for questions on insects and spiders. Entomology is the scientific study of insects, a branch of arthropodology. Historically this also included other arthropods such as arachnids (spiders).

1) Spiders are not insects.

Both spiders and insects are invertebrates, but spiders are not insects. Insects have a head, thorax and abdomen, and the thorax has three pairs of legs. They also eyes, antennae and mouthparts, the Explorit Science Center website points out.

2) Arachnology is the study of spiders and not (regardless of the past).

Arachnology is the scientific study of spiders and related animals such as scorpions, pseudoscorpions, and harvestmen, collectively called arachnids.

Why was the tag merged with instead of getting replaced with ?

Side question: As a member, can I merge tags or this is only a superpower for moderators?


2 Answers 2


Maybe you create tags (e.g. a tag for 'spiders') by searching for posts which contain the word 'spider'?

I doubt that's what tags are for: if I want to find posts about spiders I can already do that same search myself, without using tags.

  • 1
    Tags are for grouping posts around concepts when the word does not necessarily get in the post text. For example, think about a language name in programming. So they are "topics", certainly not keywords :-)
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 10:29

EDIT: it seems that a further explanation on the purpose of tags is warranted. They have a very specific purpose at Stack Exchange.

Tags are meant to be "subjects" or "topics" to help people find posts that are about them but don't necessarily contain the words.

For example, posts about the language C# on Stack Overflow are tagged C# and do not contain this keyword.

Tags are used so people can filter the site's question lists on a combination of them, so for example people interested in biology can see all biology questions on this stack exchange by going to . Most of these questions won't have the word "biology" in them, because it's their topic. Only 7 questions tagged biology also contain that word.

The "correct" tag is whatever topic people use to filter questions by. Adding entomology is fine in this sense -- it's likely that people interested in insects are also interested in spiders.

If people are interested only in spiders, then searching by the tag spiders was always the wrong choice. Tags are not keywords. The correct, much superior way of looking for spiders questions is using search. Only six questions where tagged spiders, but 18 posts have the keyword spiders in them.

Adding a separate arachnology tag for arachnids (and not only for spiders) is fine, but frankly, as long as nobody is looking for arachnology questions, it is useless. Actaully it is worse than that. What will happen is that people tag some question spiders, some other questions arachnology (which I doubt since no one tagged questions "arachnids" in the first place), and most will simply use "insects" which is then remapped to "entomology".

I don't think we want that.

Keep in mind that adding obscure tags that almost no one uses is noise, which is why creating tags is a privilege. The community is expected to clean up useless tags via retagging (zero usage tags are removed nightly). Moderators can merge when the do not want to make the questions appear on the homepage.

Tagging is hard.

We shouldn't have a tag for 6 questions only. This rules out both and , especially since while insects and spiders are different, it's quite possible that questions tagging one should also tag the other.

You are correct that techincally is imprecise. It is, however, the historical term. However the correct science which includes both arachnids and insects is , which has the downside of including also crustaceans and not being very used (this could be fixed by adding appropriate aliases)

We decided long ago that using the name of the science for tags is the convention we want, and this seems non-negotiable at this point.

Arthropodology would need us to retag all questions about crustaceans to that, do we want this? Any better names?

  • 4
    You invent a lot of rules. Why shouldn't we have a tag for 6 questions only? Says who? Commented May 14, 2015 at 14:45
  • 1
    I think you are taking me way too literally. What's the point of having a tag with 6 elements which no one follows? Tags are a way of finding posts by category, not a way of searching for posts. Searches are full text, so a question about "spiders" will show a question with "spider" in it no matter the tagging. Adding an entomology tag makes sure that when looking at the "entomology" tag, the post will be present. Typically this means that users which are interested in this topic will see the post. If they complain about the inclusion of spiders we can remove those questions (cont.)
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 15:18
  • from the tag. I think the "entomology" tag is already too small, as it has only 49 questions. Dividing it further is counterproductive.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 15:19
  • 3
    The point is that someone who wants to find out about spiders is not likely to look in entomology but is very likely to look in spiders.
    – Chad
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 19:33
  • @Chad whatever -- even debating this for 6 question is not a productive use of anyone's time.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:11
  • 4
    what does having the tag hurt? What is gained by removing the tag beyond a personal sense of cleanliness?
    – Chad
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:18
  • @Chad let's not be silly. Moderators are janitors, and clean up stuff all the time. I created 4 or 5 synonyms and edited many questions today. OP asked why I cleaned up this tag. I explained it. I asked if there was a better alternative. I just got criticism in response, what kind of answer do you want?
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:22
  • 4
    The better alternative is to leave it unless there is a problem with keeping the tag.
    – Chad
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:23
  • 4
    In most other communities I am a part of this type of action would start with a meta question saying this is what I am proposing to do. Are there any issues with this action? Then the community would discuss the action and most often approve it. I am uncertain why that is not happening here or what purpose this change had other than making this site cleaner in your mind especially when you admit this is not the best solution.
    – Chad
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:30
  • This discussion is ridiculous. I've removed the synonym. Knock yourself out and add [spiders] to any question you like.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:32
  • +1 for Arthropodology
    – ChrisW
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 10:10

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