Sometimes I post a seemingly on-topic question on a small Stack Exchange site, only to have a mod close it a few hours later by marking it as off-topic for the site. While I understand that trying to keep things on-topic is a good practice, is it really worthwhile for small sites? Most organic traffic comes from new questions and thus closing an otherwise valid question only harms the site's traffic numbers in the long-term.

I define a "small site" as a Stack having less than 10 questions per day, which is the current threshold for Beta graduation. A recent example of such a question:

  • I'd guess the downvotes are because they agree that "small sites [should] be restrictive". – Rebecca J. Stones Dec 1 at 6:27
  • If a question is closed as off-topic you could still start a discussion on the meta of the specific site to discuss if those things could be ontopic there. That might be better than a general discussion here, which can only end in "it depends". – Trilarion Dec 2 at 19:59

It is up to those sites to weigh those competing considerations and determine what is worthwhile for them. There may be valid reasons for taking a looser stance on moderations -- you have articulated several of them -- but there are also valid reasons for moderating content more strictly. More traffic isn't necessarily the only goal; it may also be important to retain experts and answerers, maintain quality standards, and/or support the community. One of the great things about the Stack Exchange network is that we empower individual sites to consider all these factors and establish their own standards, based on their community's needs.

If by asking here you are seeking some network-wide policy or guidance that would push small sites to change their moderation practices, I would advocate for a different approach. Instead, I would suggest first understanding possible reasons why that site might have chosen a narrower scope; then if you still think a change in scope is warranted, post on that site's meta and see whether your arguments gain support from that site's community. If you approach it with an attitude of understanding and respecting their community's norms and expectations before trying to change them, that may go a long way.


Most sites don't accept "where can I find?" questions because answers to such questions would be just links to other places. We've found though experience

  • links break and then the answers have no value
  • those kind of questions attract spammers who will post links to pretty much anything if they can

You're basically asking us to be a proxy search engine here i.e. search for something (if it exists) and tell you what the search engine returns. Such answers are going to go out of date so you'll always get better results doing the search yourself.

  • Sure, but having an active question would drive traffic to Android.SE, which is the end goal of every Stacks existence, as far as I understand. It's not important for a website like StackOverflow or SuperUser, but Android.SE isn't too popular at the moment. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Dec 1 at 5:02
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    The end goal is not to become a spam magnet no matter what level of traffic that would generate. – Robert Longson Dec 1 at 5:03
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    Are there examples of small Stacks that have become such spam magnets? – JonathanReez Supports Monica Dec 1 at 5:05
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    Super User was like that for a time see stackoverflow.blog/2010/11/23/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping – Robert Longson Dec 1 at 5:11
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't SuperUser have more than 10 questions/day even in 2011 and thus wasn't a small Stack? IMO they have spam issues even now, due to their size. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Dec 1 at 5:12
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    Sites of all sizes get spammed – Robert Longson Dec 1 at 5:15
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    I agree. However I'm trying to understand where the concern of "somewhat offtopic questions bring spam" is coming from. I've been a Travel.SE mod for a couple of years now and while we get lots of spam, I didn't correlate it with questions on the edge of being on-topic or list questions. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Dec 1 at 5:18

I am a mod of two Stack Exchange sites: one small (1.1 questions per day) and one medium (51 questions per day).

We are stricter on scope at the medium site, but it is far from "bring any question you want to ask" at the small site.

At the Meta of the small site we have a "software recommendations" Meta Q&A. My personal preference would be to be slightly stricter than where we have settled, but I think your question would be equivalent to our "I need a list of open-source genealogy programmes" example and would be closed there too.

  • What I like about the software recommendation stackexhange is that they have nothing against questions asking for recommendations or se as long as they are specific enough. They have the wisdom that only specifying requirements is resulting in useful recommendations. Other sites could probably follow that. – Trilarion Dec 2 at 19:55

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