Stack Exchange has many sites with similar themes, such as Math Stack Exchange vs MathOverflow or Super User vs Ask Ubuntu. I find it fairly difficult to find what is relevant on a particular Stack Exchange site. Only in doing research for this question did I discover that there exists a "/help/on-topic" page for each site that a user can access by going to "?" > "Help Center" > "What topics can I ask about here?".

In particular, I am perpetually surprised that this isn't part of the tour. The tour bills itself as "a quick overview of the site" but is actually a description of how Stack Exchange in general works and has almost nothing about the specific site itself.

Can we put a link to "/help/on-topic" in the tour?

Note: my complaint is similar to that here Drawing more attention to */help/on-topic on the "Ask Question" page but my proposed solution is different.

  • 2
    Related -- the tour often just has generic info with the meat in the on-topic help that's not linked. – Monica Cellio Sep 12 '18 at 21:27

As @MonicaCellio noted, I too had just requested something similar. As explained in the related question over here, in theory the tour should already be doing this under the section "Get answers to practical, detailed questions" (at least to some level of detail). Unfortunately, I have seen that 1) often there are not enough details to avoid accidentally posting an off-topic question and 2) more subtly, the right panel has example text in the section above and below it such that my eye often skips over that section thinking that it is example text too instead of crucial content.

So I think maybe there are two potential parts to this: improvements to the tour page to the section that seems like should cover this as well as perhaps some type of formatting/ordering/styling change to the second section to make this more prominent.


I propose a different strategy. There needs to be an accessible link to /help/on-topic from the main page.

Unlike most others in the help centre, the on-topic page remains important for all users. A link to the page will be helpful to new users and established users, allowing them instant access.

Additionally users who have not taken the tour (as many don't before asking a question) would have a better chance of seeing it. This could help reduce the flow of in-good-faith off-topic questions from users who didn't read — or just skimmed through — the tour.

Ideally such a link should

  • utilise unused space
  • be placed in a position where it is highly visible
  • be available at all times

while not

  • adding clutter or noise

As I have said here, the left nav seems to be the perfect place for this.

A mock-up of what it could look like:

enter image description here

New users would hopefully see this even before creating an account, or performing any actions.

Note that having both a link from the main page and from the tour would be great. In terms of using resources efficiently, however, I believe that linking from the main page would have a greater impact.


Another possibility is to add it to the sidebar when a user is asking a question. Have a summary of the on-topic with a link to the full on-topic page, such as the following:

enter image description here

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