It would be a good idea if there could be a banner making note of the tag when entering an Answer. This is especially true with the influx of newcomers.

reminder text

I think it requires a new feature, to show a banner when adding this tag. Explain the rules and suggest science-based as a possible alternative.

Likewise, include a banner when opening the Answer editor.

post notice

A custom post notice can be created to tag answers that don't follow the rules, as an alternative to flagging it “not an answer” and typing a remembered comment again. This is in the same line as the examples shown in the comment (e.g. citations needed) and others SEs use them for this purpose.

conspicuous tags

I noticed some tags on the original SO have icons. I found it overly cute and annoying. But, they can be used for good UI design! Use an icon on tags that represent semantic modifiers as opposed to a subject, as these should be noted before answering. E.g. reality-check, science-based vs magic.

And tags that impose strict rules like hard-science, must read (understand) before answering, can have a stronger icon.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ This is an excellent idea. I've sometimes left a comment on posts that I feel don't meet the hard-science requirements, but it's informal and often doesn't work. Moderators can add post notices, but these are limited to three default choices, as shown in this screenshot of mine. However, SE devs can add custom ones to the site, which we mods can then add on a case-by-case basis, as we see them or as people flag them. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 0:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Yes, a formal post notice after the fact. But a reminder when they start to answer, as well! Newcomers don't know and anyone may overlook the tag. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 0:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I completely agree with this idea, you deserve a medal or something $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Do it. Plus some more text for length requirements. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 13:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Yes, I have on occasion missed the tag. But it might be good to add a reminder also on asking questions. I have answered hard science questions with non-hard science answers, not because I missed the tag, but because the actual question did not need "hard science" to answer. So a reminder that the question needs to be "hard" as well might be in order. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 13:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The tag should be red. Like featured is, above. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, honestly, a hard science tag should open a question up for closing pin the grounds that it isn't a hard science question. If you just want something that doesn't sound like magic, you aren't asking for hard science. $\endgroup$
    – The Nate
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 6:06

5 Answers 5


I was just reminded of something that we do on another site that I think would help, that we can do today (requires no code changes or special actions from SE).

On Mi Yodeya, once a year for a few weeks, we allow questions that are "purim torah" -- humorous questions usually based on misunderstanding some text or custom. (Trust me; this deviation from conventional Q&A makes sense in context.) We have a policy about this, and we require every Purim Torah post to include some boilerplate text at the end, like this:

This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely seriously. See the Purim Torah policy.

Here's an example question to show that in context. (You can browse the tag for a lot more.)

What if we did something similar for questions? I think part of our problem is that people either don't notice the tag before answering or notice it but don't realize it's special. It is far better to alert people before they spend time writing answers that we have requirements for those answers.

Here's a candidate text. This links to the tag, and we would add something about using this text (with cut-and-paste-ready markdown) to the wiki.

This question asks for hard science. All answers to this question should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Answers that do not satisfy this requirement might be removed. See the tag description for more information.

Edit: We now have a post notice for questions:

screen shot

A script is applying it to the 200+ questions that currently have this tag. For new questions (or retaggings of old questions, though in this case you should probably never do that), use a custom flag to have a moderator add it. (No, it can't be auto-added.)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 this is a great idea. If we require people to put a boilerplate text in their question, and remove the hard-science tag when questions don't have the boilerplate, then that fixes the problem of people using the tag incorrectly. And I think it's completely fair to ask that question writers put a little bit of work into learning the rule and adding the boilerplate, since answering hard-science questions requires a lot more work than normal questions. $\endgroup$
    – user171
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it bothers me to misuse the header markup rather than having CSS for that purpose. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ If we had the ability to use CSS we'd use it. I'm using the tools we have available. :-) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ Suggestion: ask the team to create a post notice for this. We had a similar situation with the "resource-recommendations" tag on Physics, and when Shog heard that we wanted to have something edited in to every post with the tag, he created a custom post notice with our notice text. That's exactly what notices are for. It still requires a mod to add the notice to every question with the tag, but it's probably better than editing. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 12:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ thanks for that suggestion. Implemented. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 19:04

Two parts of this are technically feasible now; one would be a new feature.

For the tag, it is possible to have some sort of pop-up box with custom text appear when you choose certain tags, like this:

SO regex tag warning

To ask for this we will need a wording.

For the post notice, I know that some sites have gotten this. (Pets has one for anecdotal answers, for example.) Again, we need an exact wording to hand to the CMs.

For both of these, we should develop a wording on meta so we can use voting to show community support. Maybe one CW answer for each of these, on this question?

For a notice upon starting to answer, that'd involve new code. If we can come up with, say, some SEDE query results that show answers that didn't follow the tag guidance -- that is, answers that we think could have been helped by this feature -- that would help to demonstrate the scale of the problem. SE prefers data to anecdotes.


Monica said we need examples. So note new cases here to help make the case for feature deployment.


The "conspicuous tags" are actually called sponsored tags. On Stack Overflow, a company, like Sony, can pay money to get an icon (and some other things) on a tag (in this case, [Sony]).

The idea of using the same mechanism to make some tags stand out is not new. It was discussed on MSE, and there is even a UserScript that could be modified to do exactly what you want (unfortunately, it only works for those who install it).

I think it may be worthwhile to look into banners (aka annotations or notices).

Skeptics has one which may work (it's added onto answers), especially with a few changes:

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

Real examples here.

  • $\begingroup$ So does that mean SO won't use the tag icon for other porposes, even if it’s a genric alert icon like an exclaimation point? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ That's the default banner; all sites get it, and I've used it on Worldbuilding in the past. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 1:45

we should develop a wording on meta so we can use voting to show community support. Maybe one CW answer for each of these, on this question?

Well, start with the tag's text now:

All answers to this question should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Review the tag info before using this tag. Consider alternatively the science-based and reality-check tags. Avoid using this tag as the only tag on a question.

In light of the context, adjust the introduction, but keep the description the same.

Note: answers to questions tagged as hard-science should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Review the tag info before using this tag. This will change the nature of what kinds of answers are permitted!

If this is not what you meant, perhaps you want the or tags instead.

  • $\begingroup$ Looks like a good start. What should be linked in there? (What do you mean by "tag info", the wiki?) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 2:21
  • $\begingroup$ What do I mean? That's what it reads: hard-science. I suppose it means the info button visible under this summary. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 2:28

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