To emphasize. If the Area 51 FAQ was considered the 'Federal Laws' of Stack Exchange 2.0 proposals, is a proposal expected to fall under the exact same guidelines or can it overrule those guidelines to better match the culture of the proposal?

Example 1 - Do proposals have to be geared to just experts?

In the FAQ it states that:

Ask real, expert questions

We want you to capture the moment that plumbers feel when they look at PlumberOverflow and say, "Whoa! That's my kinda site!" On a site about plumbing, there are 200 easy plumbing questions, and they've all been asked 100 times on other sites. Don't suggest questions like "How do I unclog a drain." Instead ask, "If you run 2.5 GPM through 50 feet of 1/2" galv pipe, how many psi will be lost to friction loss?" Remember, the pro sites WILL attract the enthusiasts, but not the other way around!

But some proposals are not geared to just expert enthusiasts and/or professionals in training. So which is it? Expert only or not? If there was an amazing proposal for a Stack Exchange 2.0 site that was gloriously beginner-ish would it be allowed?

Example 2 - Is a proposal for a site a bad proposal if the topic is inherently subjective/argumentative?

The FAQ states that:

Ask questions that can be answered

Avoid asking question that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. Stack Exchange does not work well with questions like "Which is the best..."

What about proposals like Alternate History, Philosophy, or ::cringe:: US Politics?

Will these sites be allowed to draw their own lines and enforce them based on their own guidelines much like subjective questions are allowed on Stack Overflow if they're presented under the 'right' conditions? Or will they be rejected because they don't adhere to the Area 51 FAQ?


If a tree falls in the forest, and there's nobody there, does it make noise? [closed]

closed as off-topic by Mr. Bobdobalina♦ 2 hours ago

Smoking excessive quantities of pot and asking egotistical/anthropocentric/ambiguous questions about the world is both not expert enough and too subjective/argumentative to be allowed here. Your account will self-destruct in 5.. 4... 3.... 2.....

  • 4
    How much is 'excessive'? I don't see it in the FAQ.
    – user50049
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 7:49
  • Philosophy is not subjective; it's a field of study with experts (e.g. Ph.D.'s).
    – Shane
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 17:14
  • 3
    @Shane: just because there are experts doesn't mean it's objective.
    – Randolpho
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 17:18
  • @Randolpho: What's your definition of objective? Does it have to be scientific? If so, that rules out a huge portion of the proposals. Philosophy is no more a subjective field than "writing", "food and cooking", or "gaming". There are facts in Philosophy, schools of thought, etc.; that means that there are objective questions and answers.
    – Shane
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 17:47
  • 3
    @Shane: but writing, food and cooking, and gaming are all subjective fields.
    – Randolpho
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 17:58
  • 1
    @Shane I was only referring to Philosophy as subjective/argumentative in the scope of the general culture of Stack Exchange sites. IE, most philosophical questions don't have a definitive answer and are meant to generate interest/doubt/deeper-thinking to create dialog and explore the deeper meaning of thing. Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:03
  • @Randolpho: I agree that they're subjective, but I disagree that there shouldn't be SE sites on those subjects. Clearly there is interest, and one would expect them to succeed and be useful.
    – Shane
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:08
  • @Evan: The same is true of the social sciences (e.g. much of economics, sociology), psychology, etc. I'm really a pragmatist when it comes to questions of truth: there are degrees. Many SO questions also don't have definitive answers because there are frequently many different ways of doing things. Sorry...I may be misinterpreting the topic on Philosophy. What I really mean is that questions about the subject of Philosophy are not subjective. Plato either said something or not. Metaphysics is about one thing and not another. Experts know the answers to these questions.
    – Shane
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:16
  • @Shane: Oh, I agree that subjective Q/A sites should totally be allowed. I'm just saying that Philosophy is subjective. I guess it depends on how you term it (which is itself subjective). If you meant that Philosophy is the study of and comparison of the various philosophies that have arisen historically, then yes, it might be objective. "Did Logical Positivism grow from a series of discussions at the Cafe Central before WWI?" is, for example, objective. Philosophy to the rest of us, however, is about what you believe. Right and Wrong. Ethics and Morality. Very subjective.
    – Randolpho
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:18
  • @Shane: looks like we were cross-posting, and it looks like I guessed correctly.
    – Randolpho
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:19
  • @Randolpho: This explains a lot. :) I was so confused about why people think that it's subjective, because I'm thinking of it as a field. There needs to be allowances for questions on subjects that don't have definitive answers. The difficulty will be in how these subjects are bounded (i.e. what kind of questions are allowed/disallowed) even while accepting that answers won't necessarily be perfect.
    – Shane
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:23
  • @Shane That's kind of the heart of the question. Philosophy, Economics, Sociology, etc... are all subjective/argumentative fields but does that mean that they shouldn't be allowed to be made into Stack Exchange 2.0? I'm trying to see if there is a way to modify the current model's expectations in a way that really great (but somewhat subjective/argumentative) proposals like philosophy can exist/thrive without constant resistance by people who assume that the Area 51 FAQ should be enforced without exception. Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:34
  • 1
    @Shane: There's two different ways to answer a question like, say, "Do animals have rights?" One is to go through current and past philosophical schools and viewpoints, and answer it from a variety of them, not claiming any answer is right (although there may be a general consensus). The other is to say "Yes, because...." or "No, because...." or something like that. One is objective (the Wikipedia Neutral Point of View), and one is likely not to be. Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:46
  • @David: I agree, and I agree with others on this point. (Sorry...think that I may have caused some confusion.) Fully subjective lines of questions should not be allowed on any site (IMHO), because what's the purpose of voting and awarding correct answers when there wouldn't be a consensus. But almost any subjective field would have a line of questions that could be acceptable. The point of the discussion phase should be to come up with 5 examples of questions that fit within the bounds and those which do not.
    – Shane
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:52
  • The tree will still cause the wave or disturbance of air as it falls; the fact is that noise is merely an interpretation of the wave via a sensory organ processed by a developed intelligence, then it follows that if there is no one to hear it fall and process the disturbance it causes, then it does not make a noise. Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


If the proposal is created in earnest, there's nothing doctrinal about "community of experts" or prohibitions against "subjective/argumentative." We simply find those traits to be associated with what we believe make good Q&A sites.

But there are subjects that inherently evade concepts of "expertise." The SE site http://moms4mom.com, for example. The stated purpose of that site is a support groups of parents helping parents. It is not built around child psychology experts (although, I'm sure their input would be welcomed). The caveat is that non-expert sites still have to be a good idea. I wouldn't prohibit a site's creation based on "the lack of an expert community" alone.

  • Wait, what? Are you saying that inherently amateurish sites created prior to the SE2 changeover will be grandfathered in, but attempts to define new ones will be shut down as not viable?
    – Shog9
    Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 17:17
  • I'm saying that good site ideas are usually about experts, but that does not mean that non-expert sites will be prohibited, the caveat being that it still has to be a good idea. I changed my text to reflect that. Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 17:34
  • 1
    so, should the Area 51 FAQ be modified to state that or is it implicitly assumed because I have personally quipped at the Philosophy proposal because I ignorantly assumed that 'it doesn't fit the FAQ so it's not valid'. Could this concept be clarified to users to cut down on arguments/disagreements within the proposals? Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:26
  • 1
    @Evan Plaice: No, have your arguments. That's what the process is about: for sites to measure up to a particular standard, otherwise argue why they should be accommodated. I wouldn't explicitly state that some non-expert sites are okay, for the same reason the Stack Overflow FAQ does not explicitly state that some humor is okay... er, um... sometimes... in small moderation... when it is accepted by the community. You state the high standards to aspire to and then make exceptions when it best suits your core purpose. Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 20:43
  • Gotcha, thanks for clearing that up. Commented Jun 24, 2010 at 21:59

I don't think we're necessarily looking for sites for questions with right answers.

I think we're looking for sites for questions with best answers.

The system works when the best solution (or best couple of solutions) can be differentiated from the others, and rise to the top.

So, cooking and programming questions (as long as they're not about yumminess or favorite cartoons) work well, because there tends to be a best answer, even if there's not an empirically right one. Politics, on the other hand, strikes me as a topic that will never even have best answers, let alone right ones; they'll all just be wrong to the other side.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .