How do I ask about the source of terms and "rules" not explained on a per-site Tour and Help Center without disturbing too much Meta Stack Exchange? Should I make a post for each term and a separate one for each rule?

I.E. Vote early, and vote often is the title of a blog article published in October 2010. The last paragraph says

Voting is as crucial to our community as it is to any democracy. As a moderator, or merely a citizen of the site -- please exercise your right to vote by voting early and voting often!

I want to retake an effort to identify all types of network-wide "rules": policy, etiquette, hard rules, soft rules, "community consensus", "workings", "site ropes", etc.

I'm looking to do this better than I have done in my previous attempts. Some of my posts were automatically deleted, and some might still "not deleted" but have not been well received. Instead of just undeleting the posts, continuing editing those posts that were not well received, and working with support to solve some technical glitches, I would like to take a different approach, starting by reviewing the stuff already collected by me and others concerning the basics like using English, not using expletives, emojis, etc.

During these efforts, I might face a problem / get stuck, and I need to ask about the source of some commonly used phrases or terms used on claims that someone has claimed to be supported by "rules", but it failed to point to the source of such rules. It's not rare that the referred rules are not included on the per-site Tour and Help Center or Meta Stack Exchange FAQs.

Another case is when a user claims not to know an old "rule", in the same situation but that I know the source but might be struggling to explain, and the local community and my fellow mods might be unable to help with that.

Some commonly used terms originate in old posts, and some from before the launch of Stack Overflow 15 years ago when the Community and the Community Team were composed and had a shared understanding that nowadays is not evident to prevail.

Many things have changed since several commonly referred sources were published, and several terms were coined. Some terms are still used but not always understood by the active and passive participants in a conversation. I think a simple use case to understand: A new user of a non-programming site doesn't understand why their question was closed.

P.S.: I'm retaking an attempt to implement a workflow on my workspace for off-site working, i.e., writing drafts to reduce posts and edits done directly on the platform.

This is a follow-up of Is "spoon-feeding" banned like it is "help vampire"? and derived from my answer to "Vague Questions" part two among other things.

It's worth mentioning that I have read several times How do I participate in Meta and not die trying? and Show your work: one simple trick to make meta effective. I'm still not nailing it. Please bear with me.

  • @This_is_NOT_a_forum Concerning the data dumps link, I think that it's better to add the link directly to the page in The Internet Archive, archive.org/details/stackexchange, and use meta.stackexchange.com/q/19579 as the source of such link, better Oded's answer, meta.stackexchange.com/a/277952. P.S. I'm just adding comments, rather than editing to avoid bumping this too frequently. I might edit the post myself once I have collected more TODO notes.
    – Rubén
    Nov 13, 2023 at 1:33
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    You can hope to get a fully comprehensive answer from someone, but you won't because your question contains so much detail and references it's impossible to reply to all your observations in a single post. Just review old posts one argument at a time. Asking on SO meta might be more rewarding and less judgemental compared to MSE. But I would still take smaller steps. Good luck! Nov 13, 2023 at 12:22
  • Thank you very much. I'm thinking on removing the parts not addressed in the answers. I might work on that tonight. P. S. I created a chatroom were I will be adding TODO edit notes ito apply them in batches. Please let me know if I can invite you to chat there or in a 1-1 chatroom.
    – Rubén
    Nov 13, 2023 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


Should I make a post for each term and a separate one for each rule?

There should be a post for each term or rule that needs an explanation, and meta.SE is the correct place for anything that is applicable to all SE sites.

However, you should expect to face considerable resistance for an effort like this. Stack Overflow (the origin of the network) is over 15 years old now, so it will be very strongly believed that everything at this level of detail is either self-evident or has already been discussed (many times, in some cases). In particular, there is an entire section of Q&A tagged [faq] to explain fundamental concepts and well-established understandings of policy. Some highlights:

Why isn't it required to provide comments/feedback for downvotes, and why are proposals suggesting this so negatively received?

The Complete Rate-Limiting Guide

Users are calling me a plagiarist. What do I do?

What are the guidelines for reviewing?

When should I vote?

What is a historical lock, and what is it used for?

My account has been temporarily suspended; what does that mean?

I've just been downvoted. How should I react?

Why can any user edit any other user's question or answer?

What is an acceptable answer?

Is it acceptable to add a duplicate answer to several questions?

What can I do when getting “This question body does not meet our quality standards”?

What can I do when getting "We are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account"?

How do you reopen a closed question?

If you think something is missing from the FAQ category, you can use the faq-proposed tag.

  • Thank you. I understand the opposition about bringing again something discussed Ad nauseam. Also, thanks to the feedback received, I now have clarity about part of the downvotes of my previous votes. I'm still unsure about what exactly I will be posting. I will start by looking at the FAQ included here. At this point, the idea is to be ready for new incidents requiring a "rule" or term clarification. My goal is to post a new question only if, despite all the previous discussion, it is still unclear, i.e. for a certain audience or there are clashing rules.
    – Rubén
    Nov 12, 2023 at 23:53

To a certain extent — having rules 'too' codified can be counterproductive. In a sense quite a lot of 'us' technical types tend to see rules as absolutes, while practically

Geoffrey Rush as Hector Barbossa
The code is more what you'd call "Guidelines" than actual rules

In many cases — even where the rule is fairly clear — say the rule about shopping recommendations, there's room for some interpretation. On Super User this resulted in disallowing outright product recommendation requests and creative workarounds for that class of question — here and here, and even with a canonical word of Jeff blog post, there's sometimes requests for clarification

I want to retake an effort to identify all types of network-wide "rules": policy, etiquette, hard rules, soft rules, "community consensus", "workings", "site ropes", etc.

I often joke about how meta needs some chaos. Asking a question for practical understanding in a specific situation you face on meta is the point of meta. Trying to have a detailed knowledge base is difficult because a healthy community is a living community — it evolves over time, and we might find certain approaches to certain problems may not work.

Captain Jack Sparrow saying "The only rules that matter are these: What a man can do and what man can't do"

Meta is a living document, though one that has its little post its stuck everywhere, dozens of loose leaves tucked in, and a few pages torn out for writing grocery lists. There's occasionally rude limericks and bits of profound wisdom in the margins. It is grubby and dog eared, and this is fine. In a sense the practice of running a community is best left a little informal and trusting the wisdom of the moderators and active/core users to figure out how to interpret the guidelines we have.

What a user can and can't do has and will continue to change, based on circumstances. A healthy community will have folks willing and able to guide new users through this. An unhealthy one would be dogmatic. I'd argue turning guidelines into a specific list of "hard and fast" rules would turn into rules lawyering and slightly overzealous application could happen. Rules, guidelines and traditions serve the community as opposed to acting as a strict set of rules that bind it.

  • Few people comprehend Jack Sparrow, and even fewer can navigate the seas with pirates. Do you remember the guys wearing the red suits and wearing wigs ? :D I understand what you are saying.
    – Rubén
    Nov 13, 2023 at 4:07
  • 2
    AH, but I have subtitles Nov 13, 2023 at 4:34
  • Well, this question is about have more subtitles, some might talk like, James Kirk, others like Cantinflas.
    – Rubén
    Nov 13, 2023 at 11:52
  • 1
    This answer doesn't answer the question. “How do I ask about the source of terms and "rules" not explained on a per-site Tour and Help Center without disturbing too much Meta Stack Exchange?” Instead the answer reads like a nostalgic trip down memory lane Nov 13, 2023 at 12:14
  • 2
    Or a frame challenge talking about how we should be doing things. I'd also point you to the paragraph under where I've quoted Ruben. Nov 13, 2023 at 12:20
  • "How do I ask...?” The last two paragraphs seems to suggest the OP has to read posts that are semi-hidden, …dozens of loose leaves tucked in…, old, tattered, …It is grubby and dog eared… and almost abandoned …bits of profound wisdom in the margins…. The OP needs time to familiarise themself with the heaps of content, mostly low quality, and literally learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff. How does one do this on MSE quickly and efficiently? IMO that's the main crux of the issue. Nov 13, 2023 at 12:31
  • 3
    @Mari-LouAСлаваУкраїні You don't. Even the tastiest wheat is not the way: it is merely a teaching aid. A… suggestion, if you will. Your opinion on a particular issue after wiki-walking through a dozen semi-relevant meta posts is likely more informed than any given piece of reference material could ever hope to be, and unless we all get together to write a really good book, I doubt that will change any time soon. Meta is not a book: oftentimes the chaff is more informative than the grain.
    – wizzwizz4
    Nov 13, 2023 at 18:56
  • @wizzwizz4 Try making something to eat from the chaff. You can't. Continuing with the metaphor, the chaff may be interesting in and of itself but it won't satisfy someone who is hungry. Nov 13, 2023 at 20:09
  • 1
    @Mari-LouAСлаваУкраїні We have no introductory course to Stack Exchange. Some people are trying to make one which – considering that the core things haven't changed in a decade and a half – is probably a good idea; however, nothing on meta is that at present. (Maybe there's a good published book or three?)
    – wizzwizz4
    Nov 13, 2023 at 20:25
  • @wizzwizz4: Such a course does exist (owned by the very same company that owns Stack Overflow (Prosus)). But the company couldn't be bothered to make it freely available (a 10-day trial is not practical). Nov 14, 2023 at 17:54
  • Journeyman: Here is the link to the chatroom that I created originally thinking about cleaning up of this question: chat.meta.stackexchange.com/rooms/1736. Before going into specifics, I'm thinking about removing the Addendum completely. Do you think this will affect your answer or Karl's answer?
    – Rubén
    Nov 15, 2023 at 18:00
  • Thanks, I remove it. I will add posting it as a new question to my "task jar" :)
    – Rubén
    Nov 16, 2023 at 9:51
  • Note: Previous three comments were quoted in the chatroom. I will delete mine on my next visit to this question after the following 24 hours.
    – Rubén
    Nov 16, 2023 at 9:57

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