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I'm an avid forum user. For years, I have successfully both retrieved and shared information on various forums. However, I am disappointed to find that the same is difficult to achieve here on Stack Exchange.

Lately, I've been told several times that my question is on the wrong forum, rather than getting a useful answer. It's a constant frustration that I know other users have had as well. Given how successful and popular Stack Exchange's forums are, it's time for a change. Users should easily be able to figure out which forum they should post to to get the answers they need, rather than grope about in the dark realm of fogginess that currently prevails.

I suggest a second tag system, called forum tagging. This would be a separate set of tags that a user can use to describe what kind of post they are making. For example, if a user wants to post a question regarding whether to use an int or an Int32, they might use the forum tags "programming" and "theoretical". I am not extremely familiar with all of Stack Exchange's forums, but other forum tags could include "literature", "math", or "language". After the user has chosen their forum tags and written their question, the system should display a prioritized list of forums that would be best for the user to post on.

I imagine that creating this forum tag system would require effort, but it would definitely be a worthwhile investment. Asking on the wrong forum and getting comments that say, "This question is off-topic," rather than getting a helpful answer deviates from Stack Exchange's goals as a forum service, and is a very real issue. Furthermore, users may currently abandon Stack Exchange because of how difficult it is to chose the "right" forum and how problematic it is to not get any answers. The forum tag system would prevent this from happening or mitigate the chances, providing users with greater satisfaction and ease of use rather than empty vexation for both askers and moderators (whom I assume would not want to deal with another heap of off-topic questions that could be on-topic elsewhere).

I don't know what kind of answers I will get to this request--I imagine I'll get at least one comment saying this is off-topic, ironically enough--but I hope that this idea will be considered for clarity's sake.

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First, Stack Exchange isn't a forum! I repeat: it is not a forum!

Second, we already have that kind of system, we have the tag here on MSE that can be used to ask where a question is (or could be) on-topic. If you search that tag, you will see a lot of examples.

You can also use the SE wide search on StackExchange.com. Just type in your question title and you will get an idea where such questions are asked.

Every site shows a banner to take the tour. In the help you can find where what topics are on-topic and which are not.

I think that if everybody takes the time to read, there are a lot less off-topic questions posted.

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  • I would argue that it is in a sense, though more of a Q&A forum. Technically, though, that is a forum.
    – jmindel
    Aug 5, 2015 at 9:38
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    No, it is a knowledge base. It is not a forum! Forum = discussion. Q/A = Q + A. Nothing more. Aug 5, 2015 at 9:38
  • @PatrickHofman I see. Thanks for the clarification. It's a tough distinction to make.
    – jmindel
    Aug 5, 2015 at 9:42
  • The only place where we allow discussions is on the meta sites, like here. In the Q/A sites we shouldn't start whole discussion threads. They distract from the actual Q/A. Aug 5, 2015 at 9:43
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    @Jen the first three comments on this answer are, not really that serious. Patrick and Rene were making sure they're not bots or something. I agree that StackExchange and its policies are sometimes confusing, but some reading usually clears that up. For example, you can read the Big FAQ and understand some things better.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 5, 2015 at 9:44
  • I've read through most of the suggestions here at this point; I didn't realize there are already so many tools. I still think that a tool like what I suggested would be helpful for newer users who are unaware that said tools exist, but thanks for your help. I appreciate it.
    – jmindel
    Aug 5, 2015 at 9:44
  • @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M Thanks! I'll be sure to check that out. It's truly confusing, though, for a newer user to find the right forum when they don't know, for example, that the Big FAQ exists, or that they can ask where to post on the meta.
    – jmindel
    Aug 5, 2015 at 9:49
  • @Jenguinie (First of all: thanks for being constructive and not rant-ish) I find this discussion interesting. Just for my knowledge: how did you get here? How did you know where to post this question? Aug 5, 2015 at 9:50
  • @PatrickHofman Of course! Haha, rants are not my thing. Agreed, this is interesting. I've been on SE for around a year now--I don't quite remember--and originally joined when I started learning C# so that I could ask questions on Stack Overflow. Over time, I joined other forums, and sometimes ran into comments that asked me to ask a question on that forum's meta so as to edit my question so it wouldn't be off topic, etc. From there, with the help of some exploration, it became clear that the SE meta existed, and that it was meant for questions about SE itself and forum improvement.
    – jmindel
    Aug 5, 2015 at 9:55
  • @PatrickHofman most likely, from here
    – gnat
    Aug 5, 2015 at 9:56
  • @gnat That's part of it. As I mentioned earlier, there are some other forums on SE that have directed me in similar ways, plus again exploring various forums to get a feel for how SE works.
    – jmindel
    Aug 5, 2015 at 9:57
  • @gnat Ah, possibly yes :) Aug 5, 2015 at 9:57

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