Individual bacteria can alter their behaviour through chemical interactions between organisms in microbial communities - this is generally referred to as quorum sensing. Frequently, these interactions are interpreted in terms of communication to mediate coordinated, multicellular behaviour. We show that the nature of interactions through quorum-sensing chemicals does not simply involve cooperative signals, but entails other interactions such as cues and chemical manipulations. These signals might have a role in conflicts within and between species. The nature of the chemical interaction is important to take into account when studying why and how bacteria react to the chemical substances that are produced by other bacteria.