The Stack Exchange Network contains a lot of sites and it works especially well -- particularly when used in combination with a search engine -- for answering one-off technical questions. But what is Stack Exchange not good for?

For instance, it doesn't seem to provide "paths" through existing questions and answers that people could use to learn a subject from scratch, although this might be a good idea! It doesn't seem to want to be an encyclopedia (or does it?).

Indeed, it seems to "do one thing and do it well", which is of course a great model for success on the internet! Are there plans to expand the interaction model, or are the limitations seen as good and healthy ones?

  • 1
    I don't think we want to be an encyclopedia. Stack exchange is for specific questions, not a resource to learn from scratch. That's wikibooks.
    – Linuxios
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:33
  • Actually, the Scala tag wiki is a shining example of such a path, but unfortunately it's rather rare to see questions assembled like that.
    – Tim Post
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:37
  • 2
    If you're not careful, this question might get deleted.
    – Ben Lee
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:38
  • 1
    @TimPost I think that is a pretty good example of why the Q&A engine just doesn't support path based learning. That wiki obviously took a lot of effort, and I'm not trying to discredit that, but as a tutorial it comes across as extremely piecemeal and disjointed. Unless you know Scala already, it is very difficult to glean useful information from that tutorial.
    – user200500
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:40
  • @BenLee This isn't asking for a list of undesirable things people do on Stack Overflow, really a different question altogether.
    – Tim Post
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:40
  • My comment was kind of tongue-in-cheek :). I just wanted to point out a related question.
    – Ben Lee
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:41
  • 1
    Okay, I promise no more dry humor from me in this thread, I can't seem to pull it off.
    – Ben Lee
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:42
  • 5
    For future reference, you totally can get pizza at a chinese place.
    – user200500
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:53
  • @BenLee: I slow clapped for you; don't worry, some of us appreciate dry wit.
    – user7116
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:57
  • @BenLee: the related post is indeed useful: the part that seems most relevant to me is this answer, where casperOne says "we've dealt with institutionalized rudeness in the past through technology." I'm inquiring about gaps in the technology, and whether they are there on purpose, or simply haven't been added yet. Craigslist would have been a wonderful point of comparison. It doesn't try to do too much, and that contributes to its success. Feb 15 '13 at 2:16
  • 1
    possible duplicate of What Stack Overflow is Not
    – gnat
    Feb 15 '13 at 6:37
  • 1
    I guess the "Closed as not constructive" comment below sort of sums it up :) Feb 15 '13 at 19:28

Stack Exchange is pretty bad at:

  • Opening cans
  • Sharing feelings
  • Finding you a date on Feb. 14th
  • Cracking walnuts
  • Fracking
  • Treating your addiction to chemical solvents
  • Weaving carpets
  • Listening quietly to your problems without offering solutions because, y'know, you just wanna vent
  • Predicting the future
  • Finding that thing you just had and must have set down somewhere but can't seem to recall where
  • Telling you it's gonna be ok
  • Shoveling snow

Stack Exchange shines at allowing folks who know how to do things to explain how those things should be done to folks who need to do them. Other stuff... Well, we're experimenting a bit.

  • 7
    "Finding that thing you just had and must have set down somewhere but can't seem to recall where" — rephrase it to mean "stories I read 80 years ago and can't seem to remember", you've made it on-topic for Scifi! Feb 15 '13 at 1:46
  • Disagree with #2 and #6.
    – user159834
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:47
  • I should note that I have successfully used Stack Exchange to open bottles, so #1 is not as bad as it might seem.
    – Shog9
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:49
  • 3
    Admit it: SE is good for everything including things it isn't.
    – user159834
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:50
  • 5
    SE never hugs you back :(
    – user200500
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:51
  • 1
    @Asad: It does poke you with a pointy stick though.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Feb 15 '13 at 1:53
  • What is so special about February 14th?? It's just another Thursday for me.
    – l46kok
    Feb 15 '13 at 2:07
  • FWIW, the spirit of my question was more about the "platform-" than the "content". It makes a great deal of sense to me that the platform can be used to do Q&A related to cultural topics. Maybe the question should have been the more open "what is Q&A not good for?" Feb 15 '13 at 2:09
  • @JoeCorneli There are any number of non Q&A activities that a Q&A platform is not good for. If you were to propose a specific extension to the scope of the site it would be easier to evaluate.
    – user200500
    Feb 15 '13 at 2:14
  • My question could be rephrased: are there specific things that SE does not want to be? Proposing those as extensions would be kinda silly! Feb 15 '13 at 2:18
  • @l46kok, February 14 is Valentine's Day in the United States Jun 21 '15 at 16:29

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