I'm of the belief that tags should be used to describe the content in a way that is understood by everyone. The word "beginner" and similar words (I've seen "fundamental" and "fundamentals" thrown out as ideas, too) has no meaning that is shared across a population. What is a "beginner" question to you might be extremely complex to me.

Specifically from a statistical standpoint, my strength is in engineering statistics - applying statistical methodologies to engineering problems, especially in the software engineering field through various metrics and measurements and analysis of this data. A lot of stuff that is very "beginner" to some people who specialize in statistical analysis is very complicated to me - I took one course on probability and statistics and one course in engineering statistics, everything else I know is self-taught. Other people are in similar boats.

So let's just end this now and not use the "beginner" tag, but focus on quality questions that clearly state the level of previous understanding the asker as and amount of depth the asker expects from answers. This probably means using comments and editing questions (especially by people who aren't the author), but that's really the point of the ability to edit anyway.

Thanks for hearing me out!


3 Answers 3


First a link to a meta-thread that handles with this on SO: https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/29501/tag-cleanup-request-please-get-rid-of-beginner

I see value in the tag beginner. It indicates for people, where to start when they search for a topic on this site.

Your main concern is that people have a different opinion/view about beginner. I think this might be not the case. Until now it has been very clear when something is a beginner question or not. In general, a beginner question is something that asks for references or easy explanation of a statistical concept.

Also on other sites (e.g. StackOverflow) it is mostly evident why something is tagged like that, and there people find it useful.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Unless you can explicitly define "beginner" and exactly what is included in the "beginner" category and what is not, there is 0 meaning. And where there is no meaning, there is no value, in my opinion. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 20:50

Your point is well taken. However, there are also lots of questions which seek to ask for an explanation that can be understood by a person without statistical training. See this question that seeks to find the difference between a population and a sample. Clearly, this question is as elementary as it can get in the field of statistics. I think the tag 'beginner' or some such equivalent will give people who want to understand the basics a means to search for questions that may be of some help to them.

Is a tag like 'intro-statistics' better?

  • $\begingroup$ I don't think so. No tag is appropriate for marking the level of presumed difficulty of a question. I think that the question title and body should clearly spell out the background of the asker (as appropriate - if they say they have no experience in topic X versus they have a lot of experience in topic X and don't mind getting into the gory details). The tags should exclusively describe the topics being asked about. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 0:34
  • $\begingroup$ But, a tag like 'intro-statistics' does describe the topic. I agree that 'beginner' describes the user rather than the topic but that is not the case with 'intro-statistics' or perhaps 'Stats 101'. I am sure you would agree that the question I linked to is an example of a question at the Stats 101 level. $\endgroup$
    – svadali
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ I would agree that it is, but the best tags for that question would be "general-statistics population sample variables". "general-statistics" refers to a core concern that applies to multiple specific disciplines of stats (used instead of "statistics" because all questions here should be about statistics... - this tag just identifies the question as reaching across disciplines), and the other three tags are specific keywords mentioned in the question that people might be searching for. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure I see much of a difference between 'general-statistics' and 'intro-statistics' I agree with the other three tags you mentioned and I believe something similar is being used for the question I linked above. $\endgroup$
    – svadali
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Well, "intro-statistics" implies an introductory course. In my field of study, the first and only required statistics course is a calculus-based 300-level course taken in your second or third year. A lot of people get introduced to these topics for the first time in this course, but I certainly don't consider it an introductory course - it's extremely fast-paced and rigorous. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 10:09
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    $\begingroup$ Stats 101??? Can it be even more cultural specific? In most non-American countries, the term Stats 101 makes a much sense as Stats 43. $\endgroup$
    – Zano
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 10:22
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, yes. Perhaps, stats 101 is not a good idea. $\endgroup$
    – svadali
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think you are going to get much better than "general-stats" or "general-statistics". Perhaps "general" could be replaced with generic or a similar term. But relating material to courses or level of experience isn't going to work as it has no well-defined meaning. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 23:01

Some beginners, or learners, are easily overwhelmed; and some experts are easily bored by learners' questions. Why not tags [learner] and virtual tag [not-learner] ? Then people could browse either or both, as they please. (Would virtual [not-xx] tags be an easy hack ?)


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