Sounds like a spam email header, doesn't it? I know it's a weird pairing, but it struck me this morning that there's a big (and problematic) parallel.
See, if you read a lot of health and fitness stuff, there's a large divide within it, though that is not always apparent to the reader. Sometimes articles are directed at general health, some are at people who are obese and some are directed at people who are already very fit and who are just looking to tone up, or shed those last few unwanted pounds.
Now, while the general truths of fitness and good nutrition underpin all* of these articles, they can be _radically_ different in their approaches and advice. Now, some articles are clear on who the audience is, but some aren't, which results in people getting good advice from someone else, but potentially bad advice for them. Worse, people read articles that are good advice for them and internalize that advice, and then dispense it without any qualifier regarding their audience, often to fairly poor results.
Now, I don't think it's unreasonable to say that there are different level of player "fitness". The criteria are as varied in gaming as they are in sports - a great powerlifter or Champions guy may not necessarily do well in a marathon or a game of PTA. Not to say they won't - some people are more rounded than others - but just that there'd be no reason to expect correlation.
Given that, I ask: how can we, in writing about what makes a good game, a good player, a good GM, a good play experience, or anything else we feel really matters, address that fitness level?
It may seem like a strange theoretical question, but I really intend it as a very concrete one. 9 times out of 10 when I hit upon people getting pissed off by a blog or Forge/rpg.net post about some advice or other, the issue seems to be that while the advice is quite good, it's target is very unclear, so by default, people assume it is directed at them. And if they are _not_ the target audience, the advice can very easily come across as condescending, insulting, or just plain wrong.
Now, maybe this is just something that can be addressed with more awareness. Clarity of who the target is can be written into almost any such material as long as the author stops to think about it. Even couching things in terms of specific games can help: Giving advice for how to run D&D rarely goes as badly, even if that advice is chalk full of crazy new ideas. People may (and probably will) _argue_ but they're less likely to feel "So my game sucks, huh? Well fuck _YOU_!"
Maybe it's something that could benefit form a formal terminology. Not sure how that would be done without bursting into flame though.
Anyway, we've got more than enough smart people who know what they want to say, I'm just suggesting this might be a useful way to think about how others are going to see what it is we have to say.
* Well, most. Not really looking at the fad diets here, though comparing them to RPGS would probably prove a lot of fun.