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Should we follow the FAQ 100% at all times or is it okay to gather enough votes from the community to override the FAQ?


You're browsing the Graphic Design site and you notice a question about web design. You think it over, answer, and notice it gets closed as off topic later. You check the FAQ, and it says Web Design is an appropriate topic.

The reason the community has voted it off topic is not because they feel it is off topic, but because they feel the same (design related) question would get better answers on Stack Overflow. The question is purely CSS (design) related.

Mod is flagged, rules community has voted, and moves on despite the FAQ clearly stating the few voters are wrong.

Shouldn't we change the FAQ to no web design questions if we want them on Stack Overflow, or continue to nilly-pick what a few people here or there think would get better answers elsewhere.

share|improve this question
Sounds like a question you should ask on the Graphic Design meta... or is this a hypothetical example? – Adam Lear Aug 29 '12 at 21:42
This applies to ALL faqs hence the SE in the title and not specific to one site. The example comes from one specific site but the questions applies to all. With that in mind, this would be a question for Meta Stack Exchange if there is such a thing. For some reason I always thought this was the main meta for to rule them all. – RKS Aug 30 '12 at 1:41
You may be interested in Individual community preferences vs. SE network policy: who wins? It sounds like your specific community needs to have a talk about what they want the rule(s) to be from now on. – Pops Aug 30 '12 at 20:37

Obviously the community will ultimately dictate what content is on-topic for a given SE, but I do think that the FAQ should be given quite close to "gospel" status, as each Stack Exchange site is established with a fairly clear purpose that is encapsulated in that FAQ upon its creation.

share|improve this answer
And I agree with that completely. The community should dictate what is appropriate. However, I think this is best discussed on meta sites, and not in the streets, so to speak. The appropriate mod response should be, "If you guys want this question to off-topic, start a meta request to make these off-topic." What is happening now is four or five people get to randomly choose to ignore the accepted FAQ and standard without actually tracking these closings. Who's actually going through and say, "Looks like everyone keeps closing x question. Guess we should make them off-topic in the faq" – RKS Aug 30 '12 at 1:47
Point is if you choose to post off-topic you always get, "See the faq." If you follow the faq, you get, "four people can determine to ignore the faq." So which is it? – RKS Aug 30 '12 at 1:51
You're welcome to propose changes to the FAQ, too. It's not set in stone. – nhinkle Aug 30 '12 at 23:09

No, the FAQ should be considered a summary of what is on topic for the site, not an explicit (or complete) list of rules to follow to decide whether an individual question is on topic or not. Each question has to be judged on its own merits. In particular, the chain of reasoning "this question is about X -> FAQ says questions about X are on topic -> this question is on topic" doesn't hold up. (It could be that X is a specific corner case which wasn't common enough to mention in the FAQ, or that the question also deals with some other inappropriate topic, etc.)

That being said, if a particular subject is listed as on topic in the FAQ, and yet questions about that subject consistently get closed as off topic, then it's time to adjust the FAQ to match. This is the sort of thing the site's moderators (and any other interested users) should watch out for. If you notice it happening, probably the best thing to do is to make a post on the site's meta along the lines of

I've noticed that questions on X are often closed even though the FAQ says X is on topic. Should we change the FAQ?

share|improve this answer
"That being said, if a particular subject is listed as on topic in the FAQ, and yet questions about that subject consistently get closed as off topic, then it's time to adjust the FAQ to match" Or, this means it's time to improve the migration paths. Just because something keeps getting posted on a site doesn't mean that it's "on-topic". – ben is uǝq backwards Aug 30 '12 at 20:58

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