I realize tagging works differently on different sites, but at least on some sites there is a set of tags that logically encompass most of the questions on the site. On SO, there are programming languages. On hermeneutics.SE where I come from, we study a defined set of books, so we tag most questions with a book.

I would like to see most questions here tagged with the organ system or physiologic system to which they pertain. These roughly correspond to the medical subspecialties into which physicians divide themselves. Not all questions here will fit into this scheme*, but most so far seem to. There are a lot of these, and I’m working off the top of my head:

  • neurology, otolaryngology, cardiology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, nephrology, urology, gynecology, musculoskeletal, podiatry, endocrinology, infectious diseases, dermatology, ophthalmology, allergy, hematology, oncology, rheumatology, sleep medicine, psychiatry**

Of course, these aren’t meant to be the only tag used for questions, nor are they mutually exclusive. Many disease-specific tags have also been created, which to me seems reasonable. These would probably be the most broad tag on most questions.

Is this a good idea? Are there more that fit into this scheme that I’ve missed?

*A few categories that might not fit into this scheme but still seem like on-topic questions: pharmacology, epidemiology, nutrition, toxicology.
**I think this should be on topic, although this has been questioned.

  • I think all of those terms are not layman's terms. I would struggle to know what to tag. I'm going to write up an answer with what I'd suggest.
    – Tim
    Apr 5, 2015 at 18:57
  • @Tim That’s a good point. Maybe every one of these can have a synonym that is more self-explanatory?
    – Susan
    Apr 5, 2015 at 18:58
  • 1
    I think the other way round. These should be the synonyms: meta.health.stackexchange.com/q/60
    – Tim
    Apr 5, 2015 at 19:02
  • I am going to pick on your otolaryngology tag, both because I know the area and I think it makes a good example. Why otolaryngology and not otorhinolaryngology (i.e., ear, nose and throat) or split it into otology, rhinology, and laryngology? Where do audiology and speech pathology fall into the mix? I am not sure what a medical sub speciality is, it seems like we might just keep falling down the rabbit hole.
    – StrongBad
    Apr 7, 2015 at 22:05
  • @StrongBad That seems like one worth discussing. I wasn't trying to say that these were the best names, just trying to get us talking about creating a set of tags that would allow people to use them to find questions in an area of interest. Ideally, we would write tag wikis and define synonyms as needed to clarify. I started from what I call these things based on my exposure to the American medical system, but that doesn't mean there aren't better descriptors for our purposes. You seem to have a fundamental objection to the idea, though, and I'm not sure I see what you're suggesting instead.
    – Susan
    Apr 7, 2015 at 22:31

4 Answers 4


It seems to me that a scheme like this (either scientific or layperson's terms) would require significant intervention from established users to keep up. It's not something that would naturally occur to someone to tag their question unless they were familiar with the community.

We do something similar on Pets.SE (actually each question has 2 tags, one for the animal's species and one for the topic of the question) and we still have to add tags to at least 1/3 of the questions.


I think we should be using laymans terms. If we need, add the professional ones as synonyms, but as anyone understands layman terms, we should use that for the widest audience possible.

I would change:

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


How to interpret he voting on this Q&A is a little unclear to me — the question with one proposed system is upvoted and the answer with an alternative proposal is downvoted, but I’m not sure if that means the community likes the system presented in the question or they just want some system. As such, I’m offering an answer that can be voted on next to Tim’s answer. I’m actually not against his system at all, and if the community prefers that please upvote it.

My suggestion is that we use the following, mostly technical tags. (I have pulled apart “otolaryngology” into its component parts and labeled them with common term because it seemed unnecessarily opaque; otherwise these are mostly the suggestions from the question.) Each one should have one or more synonym defined, for which I think Tim’s list would be a great place to start.

I think that most questions here should fall into one or more of these categories. Most questions would also carry a disease-specific, drug-specific, and/or parameter-specific (e.g. ) tag. There is also a set of less systematic tags that has popped up including things like , , etc. that I think are great supplements.

  • 1
    I upvoted both Tim's answer and this one. The system I would most vouch for would be where we have technical tags with layman synonyms (basically your list + Tim's as synonyms). Plus, as you mentioned, some general tags like nutrition and side-effects. I think the most important thing is to have accuracy of terms, while also not being too daunting to laypeople asking questions. Apr 22, 2015 at 18:05

Personally I would use Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) as tags.

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