I've stopped being here as frequently as before, or say, invest as much time as I used to in the start, also as I feel that slowly the ball started rolling.

However, now, as a not-fulltime-consumer, I notice that, given I prefer academic / graduate type questions, it already starts to become difficult to focus my preferred questions.

So I would like to suggest some kind of tagging, either

  • For Graduate/advanced questions, something like Acadamic. Anything that someone would not ask, if he had not finished a bachelor's degree. This should only tag questions above undergraduate level.
  • For "Beginners" questions, something like Layman. Anything that someone would not ask, if he had finished a Bachelor's degree.

Due to the definition, these two are mutually exclusive, so we would only need one of them. It's the question of what kind of becomes default, and what needs to be labelled. There's reasons for and against each of them, but I leave the floor open for discussions.

Secondly, I believe we also need a new meta label real world application or something along these lines, to allow people to include/exclude these types of questions.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have no definite opinion on the tags your propose, but I also have trouble finding the graduate level questions I would be interested in. One partial workaround : look at unanswered question sorted by votes. In my experience, these tend to be graduate/advanced questions. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 17:00

3 Answers 3


Atwood's reasoning is "meta tags do not describe the content -so they should be discouraged". He was talking about the meta-tags "subjective", "beginner", "best practices". All useless, I agree with him. But: too little data, too small a sample, to generalize over the whole SE network, sorry, unacceptable, especially as the SE network has evolved from 2010 when that post was written.

And indeed, FooBar's approach is about meta-tags that will tell much about the content. I mean, under the tags "inflation", "unemployment", "macroeconomics", "monetary policy", we can see questions like

"Why economists care so much about inflation, and resist printing money in order to reduce unemployment? Isn't the creation of jobs more important ?


According to paper XXX, the duration of the effects of an unanticipated increase in money supply, depend critically on the degree to which the labor market is bilateraly regulated by contracts. The author presents data from three different countries where the effect lasted no less than the average wage contract duration in the economy, and in some cases, a bit more. In an attempt to rationalize this finding, as well as the fact that long-term contracts do exist, and extensively so, he builds a model where workers do not suffer from money illusion but value a constant nominal income because the internal costs of re-organizing consumption under a fixed nominal budget are lower than the bargaining and uncertainty costs from bargaining constantly with employers over wages (don't forget, bargaining may lead to lower wages also, even if this may come about through bargaining failure, search for work, unemployment spell, find work with lower pay). And the difference can more than offset the fact that the first situation leaves the workers exposed to surprises from the government, that may lower their real income. Now what I don't understand in his model is equation YYY...

Personally I would really want to have a way to filter such questions apart. Mind you, I am interested in both -but the mindset for each one is totally different.

My proposals:
1) I believe that the tag considered by EnergyNumbers is useful. Granted, it may be a bit broad, but in partitioning separation with "applied econometrics" it will effectively include all "questions of the interested public" that deal with a specific economic phenomenon. These are the one big chunk of "layman" questions here (the other one is the "philosophical" strand and the various "what if" scenarios, but let's not rush here, and first see how these last sub-categories evolve in numbers).

2) I am in favor of creating a tag for the "academic/graduate" strand of questions. They are a world on their own -and let's not lose our heads over the name of the tag, let's call it exactly that : . No one will be confused.

  • $\begingroup$ Judging from the votes, there seems to be a fair bit of support for doing this. At what point does this question become resolved? Should we start doing this now? $\endgroup$
    – jmbejara
    Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ Also, judging from the answers, it seems like people are generally in favor of the academic-graduate tag but unsure about the applied-economics tag. Should we start with just the academic-graduate tag only? $\endgroup$
    – jmbejara
    Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 8:56
  • $\begingroup$ @jmbejara We are still in the trial-and-error phase. I think we should try them out and see how they are being used. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ I went ahead and added the tag for all questions without accepted answer on the front page, and will edit it into new questions. I guess if we potentially don't agree on some of the questions that get the label, it's best to open another question on meta. $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:28

We do have , which covers some real-world applications. doesn't exist yet; it might be too broad though.

As for academic / lay - they're meta tags, and strongly discouraged across the network. The problem is that they don't describe what the question is about, which is what the tags are for.

From that post:

From this point on, meta-tagging is explicitly discouraged.
How can you tell you’re using a meta-tag? It’s easier than you might think.
1. If the tag can’t work as the only tag on a question, it’s probably a meta-tag. Every tag you use should be able to work, more or less, as the only tag on a question. Meta-tags, like [beginner], [subjective], and [best-practices], are useless by themselves — they tell you nothing at all about the content of the question.
2. If the tag commonly means different things to different people, it’s probably a meta-tag.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, typical network sites are either for academic, or for normal questions (see also mathematics). Without listing the reasons for why meta-tags are bad, there is no way we can decide whether they fit our purpose here or not. I also think to remember that some sites (maths?) had homework as a tag, which clearly also is a meta tag. $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ From the same post: "There’s been a major uptick recently in tags that are not useful and just add noise." The suggested tags would clearly act the opposite, as helping to filter between posts I (and perhaps others) want to see and those we clearly do not want to see. $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 15:13

Alright, after seeing not too much of a response so far Ill post something myself to get the debate going.

  • It is very hard to phrase a tag for layman questions, if it's supposed to include undergraduate questions - without making them sound bad/degrading to undergraduates. They're not really layman, but what else would be inclusive: Beginners? Doesn't sound nice to me.
  • Also, I expect the share of users with few questions to be higher among those who ask layman questions. Hence, if we have to teach new users to use the tags, it might make more sense to teach the academic/graduates, as they're are both fewer in numbers, and tend to stay along longer

Emphasize vs hiding

For those like me who want to focus on graduate questions, having a favorites tag on graduate questions will emphasize these questions by background color, but still display questions without the tag.

If we instead tag layman questions only, I would apply a filter then, effectively completely removing these questions.

I believe that we are still inclined towards an inclusive community, hence I suggest a tagging of academic/graduate questions.


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