A while ago, I noticed that the Help Center page, What topics can I ask about here? contained a long list of things that users shouldn't ask about. However, there is a different Help Center page that's supposed to be about what types of questions not to ask. What types of questions should I avoid asking?

I wonder if that list of "don't ask" topics could be moved from the former Help Center page to the latter.

1 Answer 1


There is a difference between "What topics shouldn't I ask about?" and "What types of question shouldn't I ask?"

The first covers the subject matter; the second the actual questions which are asked.

That's actually shown in the lists:

  • The meaning of words, or synonyms for words, unless you have first looked them up in a dictionary or thesaurus.
  • Proofreading ("Is this right?", "Are there any mistakes?"), unless a specific source of concern is clearly specified. See below for hints on checking existing texts.
  • Writing advice (see Writers.SE instead) or critique requests
  • "How to improve my English?" (this is not constructive anyway)
  • Translation and non-English languages — please see the translation tag info for details
  • Naming, including naming programming variables/classes
  • Criticism, discussion, and analysis of English literature
  • Jokes that do not rely on the English language

Those are topics which explicitly do not fall into the "What can I ask about?" valid subjects.

The other list covers questions which might be asked about valid topics, but...

  • every answer is equally valid
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers
  • there is no actual problem to be solved
  • you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question
  • your question is just a rant in disguise

So no: the two lists are orthogonal and seem fine as they are.

  • You say "There is a difference between "What topics shouldn't I ask about?" and "What types of question shouldn't I ask?"" From the OP's question, I would suggest that that distinction has not been made clearly enough - perhaps retitling might help?
    – Greybeard
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 10:27

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