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If you answer a question, then do we have ethics regarding adding tags to it after the fact, or is that considered a form of "reputation boosting"? I just noticed I was doing this today, and realized that it could be used in a nefarious way by someone wanting to transfer reputation points from a large topic to a small topic.

Also, what about removing tags, so that you can cram more information content into the existing 5 tags (e.g. getting rid of , and replace it with )? I do this from time to time to other people's questions, but I am not sure whether it is right or wrong.

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You're not transferring reputation from a large topic to a small topic. The reputation is staying where it it - attached to the posts. – ChrisF Apr 24 '12 at 11:46
If you answer a question in "perl" and get 10 upvotes, and then add a "python" tag - haven't you just cloned some reputation into a new topic? Seems like this could be used to artificially boost rep points in topic tags.. – jayunit100 Apr 24 '12 at 11:55
no, because reputation and tags don't work like that. All you might have done is gamed getting a tag badge - but these can be revoked if you fall below the threshold. So what you give someone else can take away. – ChrisF Apr 24 '12 at 11:57
The worst one can do it get himself some additional tag badges, no extra reputation. If you see such behavior, report it. – Shadow Wizard Apr 24 '12 at 11:57
There's a long FAQ entry detailing all the intricacies of how reputation works. Not a dupe candidate, just a convenience link. – Pops Apr 24 '12 at 18:07

No, it's not nefarious, as long as the new tags are better than the old ones.

IMO, clarifying the tags is good. I hate vague tags. The more vague they are, the more topics they encompass. Tags should encompass a well defined set of related issues.

Quoting @MarkJ below,

By definition, if you understand the question well enough to answer, you must be very well qualified to adjust the tags. Do it!

I wouldn't worry too much about per-topic reputation. It only really exists for synonym and badge issues (I think).

Carry on :)

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+1. By definition, if you are qualified to provide an answer, you must be well qualified to adjust the tags. Do it! – MarkJ Apr 24 '12 at 11:52
@MarkJ: Awesome comment, stolen :) – Manishearth Apr 24 '12 at 11:55
I actually like vague tags because I'm much more likely to do a search for the least specific tag. – Some Helpful Commenter Apr 24 '12 at 14:32
@SomeHelpfulCommenter: I'm quite sure wildcards work in tag search. Dunno though. On smaller sites like Physics.SE, vague tags are Very Bad. – Manishearth Apr 24 '12 at 14:52
@Manishearth the GlobalTag MegaBlender supports wildercards, search does not (unless I just don't know how). – Some Helpful Commenter Apr 24 '12 at 15:07
@Some :/ there are lots of features that search needs. OR and AND and NOT – Manishearth Apr 24 '12 at 15:10

There isn't any reason you can retag a question simply for the fact you answered, or you are going to answer it. I normally edit a question I am going to answer, if it needs to be edited; one action doesn't exclude the other.

Clearly, the edit needs to be appropriate: You should not remove part of the question because you are not able to answer that part, or change (for example) the tags to exclude , and include simply because you know the answer for C#, but not for C. That is valid also in the case you are not going to answer the question, though.

is that considered a form of "reputation boosting"?

No, it is not. The fact you edit the question's tag doesn't give you extra reputation. If you are saying you get reputation because you are bumping the question, and your answer would be noticed, that happens also when you just add an answer to an existing question; the question is bumped on the front page, and users noticing it could up-vote your answer.

As to replace an existing tag, that is fine if you think the question gets more eyes from users who can answer it; for example, if a Drupal question is just tagged , you can add to let Drupal experts find it.

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