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Imagine a question fitting into tags and , but you know (and mention) a special case might be answered by a certain field of mathematics which is included in tags and and you think people often answering questions in might know an answer to the question even for more general cases.

Is it okay to tag the question with , , and to get the attention of people frequently asking questions in ?

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    $\begingroup$ If "a special case might be answered by a certain field of mathematics which is included in tags 'w' ,'v'" then tags 'w' and 'v' are relevant to the question hence of course they may be used to tag it, no? $\endgroup$ – Did Mar 2 '17 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ The mention of "a special case" in the body of the Question (your thoughts about how the methods of field 'w' are possibly useful in answering) is important. It should not merely be a play for the attention of those "frequently asking questions" (or "often answering questions") with tag 'w'. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Mar 2 '17 at 13:37
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If your question would go something like this:

In my investigation of {this} dynamical system I came across this family of complex function $F(z,s,t)=...$ with two parameters $t,s$. I would be interested to know if these functions, or special cases thereof, appears in the literature?

I observed that setting $s=t^2/3=3$ the function is close but not identical to a Dirichlet series associated to a character with conductor $5$. This made me think that such functions might come up in analytic number theory. I have however no expertise in that field so I do not know.

Then I think it is alright, even desirable, that you tag it (and/or a more specific tag) in addition to , or other pertinent tags.

This would be a scenario that Did and hardmath allude to, if I understand them correctly. The 'second' subject is in a way part of the body of the question.

To have the second paragraph is crucial though. You should not just add the tag, and let others figure out why this might be relevant. Generally, a tag should be derived from the content of the question, it should not be used to convey information not in the post.

That is, write in the post that (and why) you think the 'second' subject is relevant and then add the tag. (If ever it turns out this was a misguided idea, you can still edit this out and drop the tag.)

The relevance of the 'second' subject should also be well motivated and intrinsic. To add, say, a tag like to an elementary group theory question because groups show up in algebraic topology quite a bit and this might get some extra exposure among users following algebraic topology which likely are relatively advanced mathematicians is of course inappropriate.

To sum it up, just explain in the question why you think the 'second' subject is potentially relevant and add the tag to reflect this part of the question. Needless to say, use some common sense and do not add tags gratuitously or on very shaky grounds.

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    $\begingroup$ "This would be a scenario that Did and hardmath allude to, if I understand them correctly." You do, at least for my part. $\endgroup$ – Did Mar 5 '17 at 7:40
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Tags are meant to give an indication of what the question is about. From the Help Center (emphasis added):

A tag is a word or phrase that describes the topic of the question.

They are not supposed to be used solely as bat signals.

So, no, it is not appropriate to give a question the tag (Боже мой!) just because you think the users active in that tag might be able to answer the question. And I would hope that such uses of tags would be edited out, as they only mess up the signal-to-noise ratio of our tags (already, in my opinion, quite noisy).

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  • $\begingroup$ what if you say that there is a solution in area 'w' then at least the question would be related. $\endgroup$ – Vincent.W. Mar 2 '17 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent.W. IMHO, a question should only be tagged taga if it is really about taga. That it might be (or is) answerable using techniques and methods characteristic of taga is not enough. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Mar 2 '17 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with that answer. A main purpose of tags is to match questions with users with the appropriate expertise. I'll write a detailed answer later today. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 2 '17 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ Also from the Help Center "Tags are a means of connecting experts with questions they will be able to answer by sorting questions into specific, well-defined categories." $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 2 '17 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ There seems to be a consensus that it is ok to retag question after an answer is given which show that it is related to some area: Retagging after an answer is given. However, retagging it in advance in hope that an answer using methods from that area can be given is something different. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Mar 2 '17 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ @quid IMHO that a side effect of the fact that an appropriately tagged question will attract experts in that topic. I would hate there to be a attention-brian-m-scott tag because he might be able to answer a given question. Or tagging any old question general-topology in order to get his attention. Or perhaps set-theory is a better example, because, hey, all questions are about sets, right? $\endgroup$ – user642796 Mar 2 '17 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak This seems to be a more recent post about tagging questions based on answers received, and that "consensus" you speak of has largely disappeared. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Mar 2 '17 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ Obviously, but that is a very negative reading of the question. And, I do not see the point in exclusively focusing on this scenario. It's unhelpful. Anyway I am in the process of writing an answer to elaborate on precisely this distinction. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 2 '17 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ Re side-effect. It's not a side-effect. It is the very purpose of having tags. It is not and end in itself to tag questions in some specific way, it is a means to an end, namely of connecting people to content that is (potentially) relevant to them. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 2 '17 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ @arjafi The question you link is about adding possibility to add tags to answers. So it is rather different, even though one of the answers is certainly related. However, this is only a side issue to the current question - as I said in my comment, retagging after an answer from some area is certainly different from adding tag in advance. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Mar 2 '17 at 14:29

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