This could be due to my blanket novice status, but I find myself using this tag quite regularly; practically associating it with use of the site itself.

The tag description specifies its inclusion in the case of being 'new to the language' but is it also appropriate if:

  1. You're using some unfamiliar (just 'learned') aspect or feature of a language you are otherwise familiar with?
  2. You're using familiar features to accomplish an unprecedented task?

Both of which are cases where I would want to include the tag so I could incite recommendations of the optimal implementation and libraries to employ, but I wonder if that desire is inherent in using CR in the first place?

In a semi-related question on the teaching tag, @200_success wrote:

...Some reviewers are more skilled than others. Admonitions to be extra careful are unlikely to raise the quality of any answer...

Which makes me wonder, if the tag is meant to link fundamentally simple things that beginners can understand or relate to I fear I have been using it wrong, since I can fathom using some complex language structures that one is 'technically' a beginner to.

It comes down to this: Complexity being relative, If the question itself is so intricate that a bona fide beginner would have no hope of understanding it, is it still appropriate to use the tag?


2 Answers 2


As stated, the tag is a reminder to reviewers to refrain from being excessively picky or introducing advanced concepts in answers.

Unofficially, it can serve as a filter, so that some reviewers can ignore "trivial" questions that they might find uninteresting. Personally, I'd rather live with a tag if it helps to prevent the site from splitting (as has happened with English Language & Usage vs. English Language Learners, Math Overflow vs. Mathematics, and Theoretical CS vs. Computer Science).

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Best argument I've heard for keeping the tag around. \$\endgroup\$
    – RubberDuck
    Jan 2, 2015 at 13:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @RubberDuck. \$\endgroup\$
    – Malachi Mod
    Jan 2, 2015 at 20:09
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, Theoretical CS actually predates the "general" CS site, and MathOverflow is a special case because it was originally a Stack Exchange 1.0 site. The only one of those cases I would describe as "splitting" is English. But with that said, if the [beginner] tag is working out for you guys, great! You might want to update its tag wiki if there's consistent confusion over its usage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pops
    Jan 8, 2015 at 18:09

I'm not entirely certain I completely like this tag at all, actually.

Personally, I don't tend to pay attention to whether or not the tag exists when I post answers. Sometimes, questions that probably should use the tag omit it (for whatever reason), and other times, questions that probably don't need the tag include it.

Moreover, how about this meta answer:

The best one to decide if you are a beginner or not is yourself.

If you feel like a beginner in the language, go ahead and use the beginner tag.

And 200_success's answer to this question:

As stated, the tag is a reminder to reviewers to refrain from being excessively picky or introducing advanced concepts in answers.

So, answerer's are supposed to use the tag as some sort of arbitrary guideline on how "harsh" to answer (how incomplete to leave their answer?), but questioner's can use the tag completely arbitrarily and at their own will? If, for example, my company hired a new co-worker for me, and I feel like he's way, way, way better at Objective-C than I am, so much so, that I all of the sudden feel like a beginner in the language relative to his vast skills, at this point, would it be okay for me to start applying the tag to my questions?

But how is the tag really that helpful? I am competent enough at the languages I regularly answer to make a better assessment of whether the questioner is a beginner than the questioner himself (generally). Moreover, how is it actually helpful to be leaving intentionally incomplete answers just because the questioner is a beginner? Is this the 100% admittance that questions on this site are meant to be beneficial purely to the questioner?

If PersonA asks a question about TopicA and I post IncompleteAnswerA which fails to mention a few points because PersonA thinks they're a beginner at LanguageA and thus used the tag, then I have failed PersonB who came by looking at PersonA's question and my IncompleteAnswerA. PersonB isn't a beginner to the language.

And finally, I cannot see at all how use of this tag would prevent a split or how lack of use of this tag would encourage a split.

I don't see how the tag actually impacts answers posted. I don't see how the tag impacts what sort of questions can and cannot be asked (a question is either on or off topic, the tags do not matter when making this consideration).


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