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Given that this site is now beta, open to all comers, some participants apparently want a simple, if not quite accurate, answer to their questions. A "keep it short and simple" tag will help experts tone their answers down to a level comprehensible to the questioner.

But not ELI5, please. (ELI5: A nonsense concept at reddit where people ask complex questions and expect someone to "explain like I'm five".) If this site aims to explain space exploration to five year olds I'm outa here. "Keep it short and simple" to me means writing answers such that a smart teenager could comprehend them. Writing a detailed, expert-level answer to someone who wants an ELI16 answer is a waste of my time and doesn't help the questioner.

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I doubt that those that should, would even use a tag like this, and later editing it in by others can be seen as condescending. It is also not something we should be striving towards, answers should be as complete as possible. Even if OP can't appreciate them, others looking for solutions to the same problem will, and votes should eventually reflect that.

The rest should then be handled via community moderation. If the OP didn't explain sufficiently what answers they have in mind, then please ask for clarification in the comments (should ideally result in OP editing the question itself instead of challenging your remarks in additional comments, but that happens too), and/or cast a close vote on the question as "unclear", "too broad", or anything else you deem would best communicate the need for clarity and specificity. First casted close vote (or a "low quality" flag for those that don't yet have close vote privileges) then puts the question in suitable review queue where other reviewers will be alerted to it and chip in with their own review.

I guess what I'm saying is that it'll be hard to enforce quality, if this enforcement is only expected off a few individuals (likely site moderators that we're eventually required to act on it, but should ideally do as little as possible with so-called "mod-hammers"). On sites that I often review posts and I'm not a mod, I noticed that a well placed and informative comment (say, using [Help], [About], [Meta], [Ask],... comment shorthands to point to places where requirements are better documented) often helps and my comments and close votes are less frequently challenged. When other reviewers agree with me (be it also cast a close vote, upvote the comment asking for clarification, or otherwise imply they share my views), it's even less frequent that I have to later excuse myself. And when the questions themselves are finally edited, they land in the reopen review queue automatically, and can be reopened if all the issues with them have been resolved and reviewers agree they can be answered. So voting as a "regular member" is actually easier, I often miss that ability here, and should be done more frequently and by more of our members than it currently is. And once we'll get a steady number of active reviewers, it'll be even easier on all of us.

So, exercise your right to cast votes and help moderate the site. Quality will follow, if requirements for it will be well communicated to new members and they'll be able to easily appreciate what we stand for here. That's about it. But I'm against "tag clutter" and making them indicate expected quality. They're supposed to help navigate through our topics, not serve as a marker which posts are better avoided by our readers. If there's any like that, they should be improved upon or closed.

For example, How do I ask a good question? and How do I write a good answer? sections of our Help Center (comment shorthands [Ask] and [Answer]) explain it well enough what we expect of contributions on our website. Insist on our qualitative requirements, communicate them to those that might need it, and please don't ever lower your own standards. And if you need help in trying to improve contributions, don't hesitate to ask for it from our community. Our main chat room would be a good place to do that, or use custom flags on posts that require moderator's attention.

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  • $\begingroup$ I know I'm not supposed to say this, but thanks for the very detailed answer. My question was aimed at the problem of varying levels of expertise amongst our questioners (and answerers). It's a bad idea to invoke general relativity in answering a block sliding down an inclined plane type of question. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen May 14 '14 at 15:26

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