Figuring FAQ (

The community (or more accurately, the community) is still trying to figure out what’s on-topic, even though it doesn’t appear that the meta consensus directly influences the actual reality of the site.

When I last left the search for an elevator pitch, I wondered whether the FAQs of the other (launched) sites would be a fertile ground for inspiration. So, here goes – this is the same list of sites as last time:

Web apps is fairly straightforward (although they interestingly single out “adult content” sites as off-topic).  Gaming is nice and short, with an all-inclusive policy (with two exceptions: recommendations and shopping).  Ubuntu’s FAQ barely says anything about what’s ok – I guess the implication is that anything related to Ubuntu is on-topic.  Webmasters is similarly short, with no exclusions.  Game development has a brief list of sub-topics that are considered acceptable, and an explanation of how to choose between StackOverflow and that site.

The three that I think do the best job (in terms of something that can emulate) are photography, cooking, and mathematics.

Photography is an interesting case – they link to a few meta discussions, and they have some off-topic examples that seem obvious (programming, website development, graphic design) but must have caused problems at some point.

Cooking reads very nicely – there are clear examples of what’s on-topic, and some examples of what’s not on topic.  There’s a link to questions tagged “faq” on meta ( has used “on-topic-discussion” for the same purposes I think).

Mathematics doesn’t just have on-topic and off-topic suggestions, but also suggestions for topics that are on-topic but might get better answers elsewhere.  I think this is a great addition.  The off-topic examples are quite limited, but it’s probably quite obvious what’s ok on the site.

Does this help with figuring things out for  Not as much as I hoped.  The results of the ‘on topic – off-topic’ meta-meta discussion can probably be turned into the on/off topic bullet points that are common; we should try and include a link to an appropriate meta tag as well, and links to other sites (like for some examples would be great too.


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