In case you haven't noticed, the Google Webmaster Help forum has moved over to the new layout. Now, things are just a tad more confusing and people are wondering what inspired Google to make the changes they have implemented. In a specific Google Groups thread, a forum member asks what Levels mean (notice in the screenshot I've included that he's designated as "Level 3"). So -- what exactly is it?
Susan Moskwa responds to the frustrated user (and explains, I suppose, why I will never see a nice blue "G" to indicate Google employees):
Apparently in the old help forum, users who were offered advice by non-Googlers would respond to the effect of "Who are you to give me advice?" which deterred regular forum contributors (who still knew what they were talking about) from contributing solid and helpful advice. (Unfortunately, I still want the G to denote Googlers as such, but I digress...)
So what are Levels, then, exactly? Levels are awarded to individuals who offer the best and most valuable answer to the community.
Forum discussion continues at Google Groups.