I can see advantages and disadvantages to having a , some of which would be:


  • Allows beginners to find existing questions quickly and search in them
  • Makes it easy for the casual internaut to ascertain whether a question would be considered beginner level or not


  • Might make for a stigma if you tack it on a question. Personally I see no stigma in being new to a topic, but it depends entirely on how the community treats OPs with such questions
  • It could also have similar disadvantages as the homework tag from StackOverflow

Admittedly it would be even better to be able to "vote" a question into "beginner", "intermediate" and "expert" categories, but lacking that a tag may just be the right compromise.

So I'm, putting this up for discussion.

Edit: So this is not about the particular tag - it was probably wrong to kinda limit the scope this way as it distracts people from the actual problem and seems to aggravate them - in fact it is about categorizing information. Seeing that Google Talks clip with Joel got me thinking. One of his main points is that search engines are bad at certain aspects, and while SE sites go a long way towards mitigating the flaws, there are still edges to be honed.

4 Answers 4


Tags are not designed to assign a difficulty level like that. Besides, who would decide? Something I might find extraordinarily difficult might be child's play to you. But that aside…

Tags are supposed to tell you what the question is about. Tags like or do not tell you what the question is about at all. Saying "this question is easy" only serves to label the author. In Stack Exchange terms, these are called "meta tags" and are explicitly discouraged.

The Death of Meta Tags

The reason meta-tags are a problem is that they do not describe the content of the question. They describe some other context of the question that should be contained in the text.

Tags should organize and categorize the topics being asked. These meta tags will only mislead users into a false sense that they have adequately described their question without actually helping with the topic organization. You'll end up with a bunch of tags like [im-stuck], [hard-question], [poll], and [advice-needed] — and these questions become exceedingly difficult to discover.

This isn't an obvious problem at first, but this was a big problem on other sites before we learned how to deal with them. We'd rather not repeat these mistakes on every other site, so we explicitly discourage the use of meta tags.

  • while I totally agree that there are difficulties involved, it is also a fact that in a niche field of expertise such as RCE a lot of beginners try to find guidance and often bump into walls. A beginner tag could be one way of alleviating this problem. Side-note: these tags do not exist, but we've had numerous beginner questions that were quickly shot down.
    – 0xC0000022L Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 15:38
  • 1
    @0xC0000022L I understand your concerns, but unless you have a lot of questions about the subject of "beginner", a [beginner] tag isn't going to help a beginner find the question they need. This would only misuse the feature as a way to divvy up the site into large swaths in a way not intended by tags. Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 15:41


We should not have a tag. If we were to implement it, it would automatically require . Those who are happy with neither of the tags would then want an tag.

What then happens to the beginner to intermediate level individuals ? They would not want to be left out of this either ... I hope you get what this will lead to.

Other major issues :

  • Who would assign the tag to a question ? Who would judge the level of a question?

  • What would be a quantifiable metric to classify questions as such ?

  • Would the experts be interested in answering beginner questions ?

  • How would this in anyway make the community stronger ?

Also, tags are used for classifying the question based on subject matter. They are not supposed to be used for anything else.

We might be a small site but we should learn from the errors and problems of others. This has not worked successfully on any programming or technical site in the network (to the best of my knowledge).

This would be equivalent to opening a can of worms.

I strongly disagree with this idea.

  • sorry, couldn't help to smirk. Even if you disagree with having a beginner tag, my question puts up both alternatives and it's therefore slightly silly to "downvote" it as it is meant to initiate a discussion, not to argue one way or the other. Maybe a bit too ... uhm ... twitchy with that mouse finger? If you don't want to discuss that's fine too, I think you have the power to close off discussions ;)
    – 0xC0000022L Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 14:53
  • @0xC0000022L Not that I want to argue, but if you started the discussion about the implementation of an idea, then I would assume it means you are favoring or interested in the idea. My downvote was for the idea.
    – asheeshr
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 14:57
  • well assumptions ... what can I say. There is this saying how the word "assume" came about ;)
    – 0xC0000022L Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 15:00

Not being particularly surprised to find the question, which I tried to keep impartial, downvoted, I want to elaborate on why it could be useful. My initial idea was in fact to write up a pro and a contra answer, but having already two contra answers, this discussion will probably get choked to death before it takes off anyway.

RCE is a very special field of expertise. As such it is relevant to lower the bar for beginners by guiding them to the places to look at.

Yes, they should ask actual questions and get those answered. But just like we can use tag wikis to collect useful information for everybody (including beginners), we can use tags to categorize that information. As I pointed out in my initial post ("the question"), it would probably be better to be able to vote whether something is considered beginner, intermediate, advanced and what not. Heck, Q&A information isn't that much different from books and most books about a professional subject matter tend to have something like a three-level scale like: beginner, intermediate, advanced or similar on their back to guide librarians to file them.

While I agree that there are problems doing this with a tag the problem won't go away. This is why this was meant as a discussion. And if you disagree that tags are the right tool to categorize Q&As this way that's fine, too. But it's a fallacy to think that this automatically implies that you have to disagree that the underlying problem should be addressed in some way.


While this is not a priority, why not?

However, I think we'd also need for questions that requires top-notch expertise, and, more importantly, the 5 tags limit per questions, which could be quickly a problem.

So, a good idea, however not practical IMHO.

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