On English Language & Usage Meta there has been a recent debate about a question asking users for stories about:
how you ended up on ELU, how it has helped you, and perhaps more importantly, what keeps you here.
The question was inspired by similar questions on other Meta sites, including:
- Unix & Linux: Getting to know you: who are you and why do spend time on unix.se?
- Interpersonal Skills: Why are we here?
- Data Science: Who are you and why are you here?
- Code Golf: Who are you? Why are you here? And more introspection
- World Building: Who are you and what planet are you from?
- Code Review: https://codereview.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1730/96463
- Health: https://health.meta.stackexchange.com/q/322/3534
- Mathematics: https://math.meta.stackexchange.com/q/12991/311435
- Science Fiction & Fantasy: https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/q/7346/31394
- Hinduism: https://hinduism.meta.stackexchange.com/q/967/5695
On EL&U Meta, the question was closed as off-topic, then reopened, and now there is a second Meta question discussing whether or not the first should have been closed as off-topic.
Some users, including a moderator who answered the second question, take the view that asking about users is off-topic on meta pages, as evidenced by the help center.
Personally, it seems to me that this particular case isn't addressed in the help center page. I'm of the opinion that such questions can be useful for learning about what keeps users active on the site, what attracted them there, etc., for gleaning insight into how to make the site more attractive to potential users who could add value to the site.
Is asking this sort of question on a meta page objectively off-topic? Is this something that has to be determined on a site-by-site basis, or is there any network-wide rule or guideline that would apply?