What I'm missing at MSE is a tag which shows all question at a certain difficulty level. For example, when I'm browsing real analysis question, many of them are just way beyond my level, and I need to scroll several pages before I get an interesting question for myself.

I would like something like this. Tags which give an general idea of the difficulty. For example, a highschool/first year univerisity/second year university tag, etc.

I think this would give a little bit more structure in the great amount of question posted at MSE.

Edit: As Asaf Karagila points out, my proposal may not be the best one to structure the question posted at MSE. Therefore I would like to turn this into discussion.

  1. Would it be useful to be able to filter the great amount of question posted at MSE by difficulty ?
  2. And if so, what would be a good way to filter the easy question from the hard question etc.?

2 Answers 2


There is a way to filter by difficulty, which I shall call Speyer's method:

The way I navigate math.SE is to go to https://math.stackexchange.com/unanswered and scroll down a few screens. Questions that remain unanswered for more than a few hours are a much more interesting population than math.SE questions in general.

Another interesting way to select the more specialized questions is to look for the Tumbleweed badge. This list gives you the questions that went overlooked (deservedly or not) for at least a week. They are not necessarily difficult, but tend to be on the higher level of specialization than the rest of the site.

Unfortunately, I do not know of a way to select the less difficult questions.


Such tag would be a meta tag (that is tag about the question rather its content), and meta tags are discouraged by the SE system.

Furthermore in different places different questions would be aimed for different people. I can tell you that some of the things that I learned in my first year are taught during the second or third year in other places, and things that I have learned in my grad level courses may appear in undergrad courses elsewhere.

Not to mention that different departments (i.e. math vs. economics vs. engineering) may all learn calculus, but math undergrad calculus may count as advanced undergrad for engineering students and as grad level calculus for economics students.

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    $\begingroup$ Not to mention that the level of a question may be difficult to determine until you've worked out the answer. Littlewood's PhD supervisor thought the Riemann Hypothesis would make a good dissertation topic. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 31, 2012 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: Does RH make a good dissertation topic? $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 31, 2012 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ Agree. The level of difficulty is in the eyes of beholders, and is therefore not easy to evaluate consistently. Having said so, I understand that feature would help individuals like Kasper more or less. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 31, 2012 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Tim, RH may be the single most difficult problem in the history of mathematics (or maybe not --- we won't know until someone solves it), and it is certainly not a suitable dissertation topic, not if the advisor expects the student to solve it. On the other hand, I have heard Hugh Montgomery advocate working on RH on the grounds that while you don't expect to solve it you do expect that any progress you make on it will be a useful result. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 31, 2012 at 22:48

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