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Jason C. McDonald
Jason C. McDonald

Posted on • Updated on

Updated #beginner Tag Guidelines

Co-authored with @highcenburg has a reputation for being incredibly beginner-friendly, and we like to think that the #beginners tag is a big part of that. More recently, however, it's been getting hard to predict what belongs on the tag and what doesn't. What designates a "beginner"? Is it someone new to programming, new to Javascript, new to React, or just new to Bootstrap? Those of us who have been at this a while know where to find answers to our questions, and that includes knowing what tags to search for...

A complete beginner knows none of this. He or she should be able to subscribe to one tag and get content specifically geared towards their experience level, no further intervention required!

We (@codemouse92 and @highcenburg) decided to clean up the #beginners tag to achieve this goal. We know this is going to be a big transition, but we're convinced that everyone will benefit in the end:

  • True beginners find content specifically for them,

  • Article authors get their beginner-oriented content noticed more easily by their target audience,

  • gets that much more organized.

New Guidelines

To start with, from here on in we'll be defining a "beginner" as someone who is new to programming, development, networking, or to a particular language. Simply being new to a framework, a library, a toolkit, or an IDE doesn't automatically count.

If you think about it, almost all articles on teach concepts anyway. We want #beginners to focus only on those developers who have 0-2 out of 10 knowledge in their field or language.

  • All articles on #beginners should be written for true beginners.

  • Articles should require no prerequisite knowledge about the language. This means authors should be prepared to introduce prerequisite concepts fresh in their article or series.

  • It's okay to assume some knowledge of general programming basics, but these expectations should be clearly delineated at the top of your article.

  • Asking a question with the #beginners tag should imply that answers should assume no prerequisite knowledge.

What Changed?

We used to allow articles teaching frameworks, tools, or libraries to developers who were familiar with the language, but not the discussed topic itself. The new guidelines ensure #beginners focuses on informing true beginners.

Here are a few theoretical articles which would have been acceptable on #beginners at some point, but (probably) aren't now:

  • "Building a Blockchain in React"

  • "Combining Pandas and Deep Learning"

  • "Let's build a P2P calendar webapp in Perl"

  • "Executing Assembly Code from C#"

Promotional Guidelines

Articles should NOT primarily promote an external work, such as a Udemy course, website, or book (yours or someone else's). This is what Listings is for.

It IS acceptable to include a brief (1-2 sentence) plug for another resource at the bottom of your article, so long as the article contains complete and substantial content in its own right.

If you want to write up a list of resources (paid or free) for beginners, this IS acceptable on the following conditions:

  • Resources should be by at least three different distinct authors/creators. (Don't just make a list all of one person's work.)

  • Clearly indicate which resources are FREE (no cost or data whatsoever), which require personally identifiable information PII, and which cost money.

  • Do not use personal affiliate links to monetize. Use the exact same URLs that anyone else could provide.

  • It should be clear at the first paragraph that the article contains promotional links.

What SHOULD Be Here?

Articles in this tag should be geared towards new developers, to introduce concepts, coding principles, and language features.

In other words. we're looking for articles like this:

Questions are also welcomed! All questions on the #beginners tag should be seeking answers without assumptions about prerequisite knowledge. (They should also include the #help tag.) For example...

  • What is a generator?

  • What is the best framework for ERP?

  • What is a segmentation fault?

  • Why can't Python find my class?

Guideline Enforcement

We may cleaning up some prior posts, so if you find that this tag was removed from a bunch of your posts, don't despair. We just want this tag to be a safe harbor for beginners, even if they scroll back. If you want to go back and edit any of your posts to fit with the new standards, you're welcome to; if the tag was already removed from said posts, you can email to get it reinstated.

If the #beginners tag is used incorrectly in new posts, we'll remove it and provide a friendly reminder, along with suggestions on better tags to use. It takes time to get used to updated rules, so don't worry if this happens to you once or twice or several dozen times. We know you'll get the hang of it!

Top comments (3)

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

P.S. I reeeeeeeally have to say, we're super excited to have @desi joining the #beginners tag moderators. She's the author of the "Best Posts For Beginners" series.

desi profile image

🤗 excited to be helping out!

angelarae63 profile image
Angela Whisnant

Makes good sense! Thanks for looking out for us Newbies!:o)