Are the rules of all sites on StackExchange the same? I see their help centers are the same.
Our one global rule is don't be a jerk, but we really like it when you try to actually be nice.
As I watch new communities take shape and work out how their topic is going to fit within the confines of our software, someone will inevitably say:
But SE policy won't permit this
When I read this, I sometimes want to jump in screaming Hey, look over here, see me? I work at SE, we have no such policy, someone just inferred that based on the rigidity of certain other sites in our network.
We want communities to be able to do their topic justice without having to contort how they go about it to the broadest extent that is possible. To this, we're always open to trying new things, nobody likes a suit of clothes a few sizes too small, no matter how shiny it looks.
Our sites imply a sort of contract with people that find them. If they ask a question on one of our sites:
- It will receive at least one or two answers
- Those answers will quickly be evaluated and vetted through an expert peer-review process
- Both things will happen in an amount of time that someone would reasonably expect to wait
As long as that is happening, and the community is actively trying to serve their topic better than anything else currently serving it, do what you do, we'll try very hard to not get in your way.
This means you'll need to spend a short amount of time acclimating to how each individual community does things. Pets, Parenting, Network Engineering - the only thing these have in common is that they're endeavors that people want to get better at doing, and that's the common thread tying them to our software.
We will not run a cheeseburger network, we're not about mindless fun - there's plenty of places on the Internet to get that. We expect that our sites will make the Internet better in some way.
As far as participating? Just see the linked code of conduct and ask someone if you're unsure of something. Invest some time in asking what does this site need? - the answer to that question is going to be a big insight into how each community differs in behavior in subtle ways. If a site is struggling to get questions, for instance, folks would probably prefer that you edit instead of closing whenever possible.
Drop into chat. Say hello, ask folks what's good to read on meta. Look at the top questions - you'll pick up the 'vibe' pretty quickly.
The Help Centers of all Stack Exchange sites are similar but not the same.
In particular the moderators of each site are able to customize their first page.