Sometimes, people will find their way to WordPress Answers and will ask questions that are only tangentially related to WordPress. "I'm having trouble using __ PHP function in my functions.php file!" and similar questions are bound to pop up from time to time.

We're also going to see questions related to learning the underlying technologies of WordPress:

Do we want to support these kinds of questions? Why or why not?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The balance between on / off topic can be very hard to judge. I can forsee a lot of cases where only once the problem is solved will you know if the solution involved php.

An example could be some php function. Doesn't it work because OP needs help with php, or is the problem rooted in misuse of API functions? Only with the correct answer will we know if it was WordPress related.

So I think we should try to find that balance keeping things related, but allowing that gray area where the question maybe should have been asked somewhere else.

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I would also suggest some sort of way to see the question in both Wordpress.stackexchange and SO if a user searches for a similar solution. –  Asaf Apr 20 '11 at 19:56

The whole point of these sites is to form a community around specific topics. It is critical to the health of a Q&A site to set boundaries around it.

This site is about WordPress. It can't realistically become an anything-of-possible-interest-to-WordPress-users site without losing focus. "Anything of interest to WordPress users" covers way too much territory. This a common misunderstanding among Stack Exchange sites.

If you attempt to cover these tangentially-related topics, the scope of the site will expand outward, away from it's core purpose, into increasingly fuzzy territory. A WordPress group probably knows a lot about MySQL. Ah, those MySQL people make a good place to ask questions about performance. Who's going to the Performance Conference? Etc, etc.

It's a bit of a tough-love situation when you have to declare that something you are interested in is off topic, but it's the best way to keep the site high quality and tightly focused.

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I, a WordPress user, am very interested in astronomy. –  Arlen Beiler Sep 3 '10 at 18:48
    
@Arlen Beiler - If your comment made a salient point, I missed it. What was your point? –  MikeSchinkel Oct 30 '10 at 0:27
    
It's interesting that you got -2 (currently) on your comments. That's not my way of challenging your view (at all) as I see lots of grey on this question, but I mention because I wonder what it says for the community here. Does that mean they want broader questions to be applicable? And if the community wants it, what does that mean? Does the community drive the direction? These are rhetorical questions, just points to ponder. –  MikeSchinkel Oct 30 '10 at 0:31
    
@Mike, my point was that this site could potentially become answers.com. It was more of a "For Instance", than anything else. It was in reply to "Anything of interest to WordPress users". –  Arlen Beiler Nov 3 '10 at 14:34
    
@Arlen - Fair point. I think though it should be easy to recognize what's at least somewhat related and what is not. Just because a WordPress user also uses toilet paper doesn't mean we should answer questions about which toilet paper is both soft and strong, right? –  MikeSchinkel Nov 3 '10 at 18:39
    
Here's is an example of a question that seems related, but actually has absolutely nothing to do with WordPress: wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/22514/… How should we handle such questions? Answer it? Flag/downvote it? –  Chip Bennett Jul 9 '11 at 23:36
    
@Chip Bennett: I can't say if it is a WordPress issue or just a general web design questions. A comment would be appropriate. Also, in order of escalation, down-vote as a poor question, vote to close as off-topic, a meta post to discuss with the community, or if it is more egregious... flag for moderator attention. –  Robert Cartaino Jul 10 '11 at 1:59

I have noticed as the site gets more popular there are more "non" wordpress questions, especially related to CSS and HTML.

It's hard to judge what to do, because on one hand I do want to help, but I also think this deteriorates the quality of questions, and the interest of "experts".

Stackexchange doesn't seem to have a very active stack for designers/html/css/front-end stuff does it? If that is the case I would support sending those types of questions that way.

I kinda like how IRC is managed,

"It's not a WordPress question just because the users uses WordPress."

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Doctype is a SO-inspired system with a focus on CSS issues (with easy multi-browser screenshot sharing). It is not part of the SE-system, but it used to be linked to in the footer. Currently, the "original" Stack Overflow site is the best place for HTML/CSS questions. –  Jan Fabry Mar 29 '11 at 18:34

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