On the worldbuilding stack site there is a tag called hard-science. When this tag is used, it generates the following text.

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.

Here is an example of this.

It looks like this. enter image description here

The use case on this site, would be questions like this about being bit by a snake or this one about removing a fishhook, or this one about acclimatization.

In all of those cases, there is good information about what to do from reputable sources. I think that requiring sources would greatly improve the quality of the answers.

Personal experience is great, but it is all but impossible to verify and I think that the site would be much better off by requiring sources for certain questions.


There is another possible option seen here on the Latex stackexchange site. What it is a long list of prepared responses to common scenarios with links to meta posts already set up. For instance, if someone was not actually answering the question, we could have a prepared text that linked to this meta post.

  • 2
    Health:SE has dealt with this frequently. Search "references" and "citations" on their meta to read the discussions. They have to be very strict, so much of what they do would be overkill here. They don't use a tag, but they do use mod-messages, like "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." Source. Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 19:09
  • I'd agree with Sue. Mod-messages are easy to set up and use. We don't have a need for a tag to force this.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 14:30
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    @RoryAlsop There was also something I saw on the Latex site, that I can't find at the moment, where there was a list of prepared comments for a number of scenarios. Like homework questions, link only etc. The were set up and ready to go for anyone to copy and paste and would include relevant links to meta posts. Maybe something like that would work. Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 20:08
  • Whats a mod message and how does it work?
    – user2766
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 8:44
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    Why isn't that considered to be meta-tagging?
    – OddDeer
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 9:12
  • 1
    @OddDeer on world building it makes sense since there is a big difference between questions about "real/hard science" and "science fiction". Here it would be a meta tag telling you little about the question.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 14:37
  • @StrongBad This was my old proposal somewhat along the lines of what your recent one is about Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 22:39

2 Answers 2


I think this would be a wonderful idea. In my opinion the tag should be called science-based. This is because we're looking for a scientific answer to the question, and hard vs. soft science is fairly meaningless to what we're trying to achieve.

I feel like the tag guidance should read something along the lines of:

This question asks for science based answers. 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.

The body of the tag description should be an adapted version of the hard-science tag description.

The reasons I like the tag idea better than just mod messages:

  • They are incredibly more discoverable. I personally never knew that I could/should flag my own post to ask a mod to put a mod message limiting the types of answers I would accept. Now that I know this it makes sense, but conceptually I view flags about problems.
  • They don't rely on mod intervention. My understanding of the SE moderation model is that we should empower the commoners to handle things with out the intervention of mods/high rep users as much as possible.
  • It makes searching for science based answers much easier to a given problem. Mod messages don't help with searching.
  • It makes it clear that the person is asking "why does XYZ ..." instead of our more standard "what ... for XYZ."

Tags are meant to describe the subject of the question, not to express other things like how hard the question is or (in this case) the conditions about how to properly answer the post.

See The Death of Meta Tags

If the author is looking for a particular type of information, they should express those requirements in the body of the post. But it would be community unfriendly to disallow an answer out of hand because an unsuspecting user did not read the description of every tag in the post.

Tags do not change the context of a question. This is inconsistent with the feature set and how folks have come to expect Stack Exchange to work.

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    I think you misunderstood, I added a screenshot to the question just in case. I agree that expecting people to read the descriptions of tags before answering isn't fair, but I think the message bar just below the question would. If it would work to put the requirements in the body, then I think it would work to have that message posted automatically with a certain tag. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:02
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    For the record, I had kind of given up on getting this implemented, but I don't think that I am as far out in left field as this answer seems to imply. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 1:03

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