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Now that it is possible for moderators to edit specific sections of the /about page, some folks have been discussing changes to the one on their site.

  • What guidelines should I keep in mind when making changes to /about?

  • What should go in each section?

  • What pitfalls should I avoid?

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"Beginners, if you're thinking about coming into Meta, don't; run, run for your lives!" –  Adam Rackis Jan 23 '13 at 22:00

1 Answer 1

What guidelines should I keep in mind when making changes to /about?

  • Make it short

  • Make it clear

  • Make it stick

The about page is intended for folks who are visiting your site for the very first time. If you’re lucky, someone who has never used Stack Exchange before will stumble on your site and read it...once.

So you have one chance to influence how they perceive your community, your topic, and the scope of your site. Don’t waste it on minutiae or in-depth explorations of every mistake or misconception that has ever arisen. Instead give a broad overview of what you’re about and why they should care. If they stick around, you will have ample opportunity to introduce them to the finer points later on.

What should go in each section?

  • Intro section: a short description of the people on the site, the goal of the site, and an overview of the topics.

  • On-topic section: a list of common topics

  • Off-topic section: a list of common misconceptions - broad categories that don't work on Stack Exchange in general or this site in particular.

What pitfalls should I avoid?

Playing inside baseball in your introduction

Most of the folks finding your site are there because they happened upon a good answer while searching Google. They don't care about the history of your community, the massive influx of trolls you faced last year, or why "pineapples" are a thing.

Introduction badintro

Gerrymandering your scope, preaching

No one is going to carefully compare their question to a massive list of rules or specific subjects taking care to ensure they don't accidentally step outside the squiggly line you've drawn. If you can't explain what you're about in 3-5 short bullets, you have some serious problems.

on-topic badontopic

Also avoid just repeating who you are without bothering to actually touch on the topics you're here to ask/answer:

badontopic2

Enumerating badness

As your site grows, lots of people will ask lots of questions that are not suitable for your site. But unless a reasonable person would expect some broad category of question to be on-topic - and it isn't - there's no reason to bother listing it here. And lengthy explanations are just tedious.

off-topic badofftopic

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Why are there green checkmarks in the last pictorial? –  NullUserException อ_อ Jan 23 '13 at 21:51
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@NullUserExceptionอ_อ that's just how bad it is –  Ben Brocka Jan 23 '13 at 21:54
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But VI really is the best text editor ever, and it's important that everyone know that. –  Servy Jan 23 '13 at 21:55
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@NullUserExceptionอ_อ because all those are on topic for progse. –  Lorem Ipsum Jan 23 '13 at 21:55
    
Yeah, grabbed the wrong list. Fixed. –  Shogging through the snow Jan 23 '13 at 21:59
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So, are you moving the on/off topic stuff to the About page from the FAQ? Or are you planning on putting them in both? I'm a tad confused. –  animuson Jan 23 '13 at 22:00
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@animuson Think of the new about page as a short intro to the site, including a short summary of what's on and off topic. The FAQ remains the definitive rulebook, the about page is for people who won't really bother reading the FAQ (which is everyone at first). –  Yannis Jan 23 '13 at 22:05
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I literally can't stop laughing at the "DON'T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE" bit. Dying of laughter. Can't breathe! –  Aarthi Jan 23 '13 at 22:07
    
@animuson: no. About is for NEW new users; the FAQ is for everyone. –  Shogging through the snow Jan 23 '13 at 22:09
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I wonder who would ask questions about the odor your coworkers emit during office hours... –  Yannis Jan 23 '13 at 22:14
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Who wrote the collection of "Bad!" examples? They're great! –  Charles Jan 23 '13 at 22:19
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@Charles: this is stuff I've observed on various sites, with some heavy editing to exaggerate, protect the guilty, or humiliate the innocent. –  Shogging through the snow Jan 23 '13 at 23:10

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