New visitors to the site are routinely linked to the Tour, which introduces certain banned topics: Questions which are off-topic, primarily opinion-based, have too many possible answers, or would require an exceptionally long answer.

It's reasonable to expect new users to follow these guidelines.

However, new users sometimes find their questions closed or downvoted for violating a rule not explicitly described in the tour, especially posting certain topics: Questions about rule intent, designer reasons, alignment questions (though not always), and product recommendation questions, to name a few.

Another common mistake is failing to add a system tag, something which isn't specified in the Ask a Question screen.

Is there a list somewhere of all the rules a user is required to follow when posting questions, especially a complete list of question types which are likely to be closed?

If not, could one be made and presented to new users along with the Tour?

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    \$\begingroup\$ We can't modify the tour page ourselves, but diamond moderators here can freely edit the on-topic help page. It might be time to take a machette to that and redraft it; a lot of its content was boilerplate from the original 2010 on topic documentation and most recent Stack Exchange sites don't even use (or never had) that content. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 22:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just for reference, a search of [tag] closed:no won’t accurately deduce if a tag is off-topic; as a rule we don’t go back and close questions when things are deemed off-topic. Anyway, as the alignment question meta explains, there are plenty of on-topic alignment questions; it’s just the most problematic (and therefore common) alignment questions—those about what alignment something is or isn’t—that are off-topic (and, really, they are off-topic because they are invariably primarily opinion-based). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 1:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that I intentionally set the search to show newest, in order to intentionally show questions which are after alignment questions were ruled off-topic (which appears to have been in 2015). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 3:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would suggest that we not even begin socializing the idea that we have banned topics. That term, banned, is a bit loaded. Having that term in the title of the meta concerns me as opening Pandora's Box even if it was unintentional. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is perhaps a better way to phrase it, perhaps "Is there a list of all the site rules so we can link them to new users?" My meaning is that questions are often closed or put on hold due to rules that are not routinely presented to new users, and my suggestion is that such a list would be helpful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


“Comprehensive” is a scary word

Questions are, and must be, judged on a case-by-case basis. Sure, certain topics are off-topic entirely, but whether or not a question falls into such a topic can still be a matter of some judgment. For example, after was determined to be off-topic, there was a rash of somewhat-over-zealous question closures of things that asked anything that vaguely wondered “why?” something was the way it was.

So when you say “comprehensive,” that worries me because it sounds like it’s supposed to be, ya know, comprehensive. Which is to say, exhaustive. Which is to say, things not on that list are OK. Which we cannot do. We will never be able to come up with a truly comprehensive list, and we must retain the flexibility to close a question we hadn’t previously considered but are now looking at seeing that it’s causing problems.

I mean, I’m generally all for being up-front with people; I’d love to warn people before they start that their question or their question isn’t going to work here. But I’m very leery of calling it “comprehensive.”

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    \$\begingroup\$ Now the question has been edited such that it no longer mentions the word "comprehensive"... \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 2:30

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