What is the general strategy for questions that users have asked in one Stack Exchange site that are off-topic, but there is an Area 51 site for which it is perfect but in the commit stage?

To give this specificity, the instance I am concerned with is English Language and Usage (ELU), ELU vs Ling.SE. There are many excellent questions coming in of interest to many ELU users that are off-topic because they are not English specific: they are are about English compared to other languages or about general linguistics.

There is of course an Area 51 site, Linguistics.SE, where such questions would be totally on-topic (in fact created by some heavy ELU users).

Since Lin.SE is in the commit phase, no questions can be submitted there. Many people on ELU are totally aware that their linguistic questions are off-topic so they're not even bothering to ask them.

What should one do (as a user with linguistic style questions)? Should they:

  • hope to remember them when/if the site becomes beta?
  • post to ELU, expecting them to be closed immediately, but so that they are on record and they can be migrated when Ling.SE is in beta?
  • some other strategy?

What was the policy/strategy for Stack Overflow when Server Fault and Super User and Programmers and Web Applications and Code Review were being developed? What happens with other such interrelated sites?

3 Answers 3


Stack Exchange does have many fewer sites created than people have questions. If you would like to see a site about a particular topic, you should support it on Area 51 to help it get created.

There is no "strategy" for asking off-topic questions in Stack Exchange. Asking an off-topic question somewhere just to get it "on record" would be very abusive to those communities, so don't do that. The strategy is to evangelize your favorite proposal and ask your questions when the site is finally created.


The answer is:

hope to remember them when/if the site becomes beta?

Actually, saving them to a file on your PC might be better than trying to remember them. You should be still trying to solve the problem too. So when the site goes beta you'll have a question and answer to post (Self Learner badge material).

As Robert points out posting off-topic questions on any site is a quick way to get down-votes or worse.

Now for a bit of history:

Before Server Fault and Super User existed questions were simply closed as off topic. It was the number of these questions that kept getting asked, despite it being clear in the FAQ that they were off topic, that prompted the creation of these two sites. Back then there was no Area 51 so the sites just sprang into being fully formed.

However, this didn't stop the off topic questions and in fact created a new set (Web Application questions on Super User - though they were allowed to start with). So when Area 51 was created these were the first sites that were proposed and reached beta. Until that point if you asked a web applications question on Super User (for example) it would get closed as off topic pretty much straight away.

  • so far this is the only answer that is relevant to the question as posed ("What do you do about these off topic questions, when the relevant site is in commit stage?"). but in my very recent experience, there's no stopping good questions that are offtopic but could reasonably be ontopic.
    – Mitch
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 20:02

Area 51 is a place for staging. Therefore they don't exist to answer questions until they reach the beta phase. It is a common misunderstanding on Area 51 even in the definition state.

So the idea is to remember your questions I guess. Eventually submit them, but you will end up closed and downvoted. Get some place to store them, mail or a site.

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