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For instance if someone asks a question about [authentication] its always a question relating to [security]. But this is a type of security and authentication should be distinct from the other types of security. Is this type of relation a proper Synonym?

It is my understanding that if a Synonym mapping is created a question tagged with [authentication] will then show up under [security], but will still keep its [authentication] tag.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Security and authentication are a case of what I call the general/specialized problem. It's often tempting to take a specialized tag (like authentication) and mark it as a synonym of the general version of the problem (security). However, this really isn't what the synonym system is for. Tag synonyms do not set up a hierarchal relationship among tags, and should not be used that way.

Additionally, if the synonym mapping you describe is created, a question tagged authentication would be automatically re-tagged as security. Once this happens, the authentication tag would disappear from the question.

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Thank you. A tag hierarchy would be very useful. – Rook Sep 3 '10 at 19:09

For example the MacMillan dictionary says:

synonym -- a word that has the same meaning as another word. For example ‘scared’ is a synonym for ‘afraid’.

Or Merriam Webster:

synonym -- one of two or more words or expressions of the same language that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses

"synonym" means equality, not that one is a subset of the other. Two synonyms have the same meaning, they are basically exchangeable and one can be replaced by the other. "car" isn't a synonym of "thing", even though all cars are things.

The same goes for tags. Two tags should only be marked as synonyms if they mean the same thing. It has to be ok that the "source" tag of the synonym is replaced by the "target" tag, because that's what a tag synonym on SO does.

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