# How broadly should we define "on topic"? [closed]

I think this will be a crucial thing to figure out. On the one hand, I think it's important to be as inclusive as possible, and avoid being overly pedantic and stay away from the extreme degree of elitism that infects many stackexchange sites. BUT.. on the other hand, we want the site to be of interest to everyone from hobbyists to serious academic researchers.

The one thing I think we need to be leery of, is having the site become overly oriented towards trans-humanism, Singularity, etc. I think those things are on-topic, but I suspect it would be easy to drift into a place where we're more fringe-science / sci-fi than serious AI research. Exactly how to strike that balance, I'm afraid I don't really know.

• I'm going to close this as tenuously "too broad" for now. We may eventually need to enumerate some bullet points for the help center, but we've found over the the years that an early what's-on-topic discussion tends to be better served by focusing on very specific concerns you see in actual practice. In contrast, broad "list everything here" discussions tend to elicit a lot of premature rule making and often create a site that has more prohibitions than problems that turn up in actual practice. Aug 3 '16 at 19:06
• Considering that this doesn't even have any answers yet, I'd say closing the question is the premature activity. Communities are pretty good at figuring this stuff out, just let the system work. Aug 3 '16 at 19:51
• mindcrime, I can understand the desire to figure out where all the fences go now, but is there a reason to reopen this despite the hard-earned lessons of the past? I'm not saying don't have these conversations; I'm just saying this particular all-in-one-thread approach tends to serve as The Definitive Signpost that says "anything you don't see here is off topic, period." That is simply my experience launching 157 of these things. Better to start out with a more-open mindset and tackle problems as they come up. Overall, we've found this creates a more-approachable community. Aug 3 '16 at 20:10
• " I can understand the desire to figure out where all the fences go now" But there's not.. a discussion like this is ongoing, and ideally will be ongoing for the life of the community. But at this early phase you want to "rough in" the broad brush strokes. Nobody is raising a call to have some bullet-point checklist of the "13 criteria for an allowable post on ai.se" :-) But we also want to make sure that we that a question like "what's the best chemical for cleaning a brake caliper during a rebuild" are off-topic. And yes, that's a little bit of hyperbole, just to make the point. Aug 3 '16 at 21:35
• ...ideally will be ongoing for the life of the community. Unfortunately too many meta posts don't work out that way. They have a limited window of malleability before they become a stick to beat new users over the head with. The Community Team used to huddle up trying to figure out how new sites can go wrong before they even launched — we even encouraged new sites to do the same — until we realized we don't NEED these forced rules discussions. Use the site. If something swerves off off your mental model of how this should work, have at it. But in the meantime, don't fret it. Enjoy. Aug 3 '16 at 22:14