# Tags for calibrating answers to the level of question

A problem I find with the site is that often answerers don't know how to calibrate an answer to the level of the questioner. This was both good and bad for me personally as I'd get insight into topics I'd never have known about if I had kept my narrow view on topics. But, some people wish for answerers gradated for their own level, so for them, I think this will be a useful addition.

Why? Because Stack Exchange's system inherently puts a value on the person asking the question as it is they who choose which answer is 'accepted' for the question.

The acceptance is not a democratic vote, but an 'ability' of the person who asks the question. If the acceptance is for the person who is asking then he should be able to make it clear to others what type of answer it should be such that they'd accept it.

Tags of this sort are known in SE parlance as "meta tags", i.e., tags which don't actually describe what the question is about, and instead describe some other ("meta") aspect of the question. As a general rule, since over a decade ago, meta tags are strongly frowned upon; see the original blog post for much of the reasoning for this. In short, there is a very strong consensus that meta tags are bad and should not be used except for very limited exceptions with very tightly defined use cases.

On this site, we have very few meta tags. The most common one is , with , , and trailing behind. The first three have very clear reasons for existing, and they are tightly codified. The other two are, honestly, in decline, and should maybe be phased out.

The specific tag that you've proposed was discussed back in 2012 in Can we have a level-of-question tag please?, and similar tags were discussed in Can we encourage the "research-level" meta tag? What about a "popular" tag? and Would having a second set of tags relating to the nature of the question make sense?. For additional background, it is very much worth looking up past discussions of meta tags on a network-wide level at Meta Stack Exchange.

So, as a general rule:

• yes, if the user asking a question requires a specific level for the answers, then this should be indicated in the question text itself. If the OP does not do this, or if it's not obvious from the way the question is posed (which is almost always the case!), then it is good practice to encourage OP to do so, and to edit it in if OP provides the information as a comment.

Moreover, there already is an incentive (i.e. an additional +15 in rep from answer acceptance) to post answers that OP can understand. And, on the other hand, if any answerer wants to post an answer outside of that domain (say, because they feel that it would be useful to a wider audience), the can do so $$-$$ and should remain able to do so.

And, all that said,

• no, it is not a good idea to encode this information as a tag. This type of tag is extremely difficult to maintain and enforce, it has very little usefulness in practice, and the descriptions tend to be to vague to be applicable even in single examples, let alone consistently (and usefully) across different questions by different users.

I agree that answers should be calibrated to the level of the question, but I have to say I think a tag for this would be useless: if someone doesn't do this calibration already I doubt a tag would change that.

I agree that it is quite annoying to find hifalutin answers, but one can just downvote, or upvote better calibrated answers.

if the acceptance is for the person who is asking then he should be able to make it clear to others what type of answer it should be such that they'd accept it.

I'm not sure that imposing restrictions on acceptable answers is ideal. After all, as you point out, it might be extremely useful to have a different perspective (higher or lower level) to an answer; if this perspective is not properly calibrated, the OP can simply not accept this answer.

Yes, one should consider the "difficulty level" the OP can handle. But at the same time, SE posts don't exist in a vacuum. Posts are open for all to look at and learn from. So perhaps higher level answers are helpful to way more people than the person asking the question.

I think a good balance is to meet the OP where they are, but to also add any higher level details you think are relevant and useful to future readers. Then your post will have the most impact and usefulness. I think adding tags that discourage higher level content hurts the site overall.

Status-declined by mother meta. If you disagree, I recommend taking it up with them. However, I personally agree with their conclusion.