The WP community as a whole is fairly quick to abandon or close down questions it views as too-basic to address. Our site has been criticized as being somewhat hostile to "noobs" asking incredibly trivial questions.

So what are some examples of questions that fall into the "only relevant to beginners but still on-topic for this site" category?

What are some examples of questions that fall into the "this is too trivial a question and is off-topic here" category?

5 Answers 5


I'm one of those noobs who finds this site to be "somewhat" hostile. Essentially I think you're all pretty knowledgeable engineers and I'm a college student trying to get WP to do a few things. So, fair enough, I don't really belong here.

My problem is, the only other source I know of for help is the WP.org Forums. While I do sometimes see good answers there it really doesn't seem to be an overly helpful place to understand how to get some bit of code to do something I need.

I do appreciate that you're all pros and I'm nowhere near your league, but just as an economy with an enormous gap between rich and poor suggests a state with problems, is ours a time with an enormous gap between engineers and users? I'll never be a real code person, I'm a content person. But I'd love to find a place where I can learn how to do the small tinkering that can help make a site work.

  • 2
    +1000 This is exactly the point I'm trying to make.
    – EAMann
    Jan 9, 2013 at 19:58
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    I think that a well-written, interesting question will get treated fairly and sincerely here, regardless of its level of expertise. The problem we deal with mostly is "garbage in, garbage out": poorly written, often repetitive, "drive-by" questions. If you focus on making your question stand out by being well-written, and by posing an interesting problem, then I think you'll get a good reception here. (And feel free to mention in your question that you welcome help with improving your question, too, if you think you need such help.) Jan 10, 2013 at 0:28
  • 7 years later and WPSE is still hostile and newbie unfriendly. Dec 14, 2020 at 19:08

What are some examples of questions that fall into the "this is too trivial a question and is off-topic here" category?

There is no such case as question off-topic because of triviality.

There are:

  1. Trivial questions that are on (more often on) or off topic.
  2. Trivial questions that are good or bad (more often bad).

But triviality cannot bring question in or out the scope of the site.

Triviality is not an excuse for off topic question, just as on topic is not excuse for bad trivial one.

  • I would counter that, at some point, triviality renders a question too localized, and therefore still off-topic, even if in-scope. Jan 8, 2013 at 17:32
  • @Chip "too localized" and "off topic" are distinct different categories. :) Question can be bad (in different ways), without being off topic.
    – Rarst
    Jan 8, 2013 at 17:35
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    I was specifically addressing your assertion that "there is no such case as question off-topic because of triviality". You're right; I agree with you: triviality does not render a question inherently off-topic. But I counter that assertion by saying that even on-topic questions can be so trivial that they are useful only to a too narrow audience, which is the definition of too localized. Jan 8, 2013 at 17:39
  • The trouble, I think, is that we class too trivial (not complex enough) and too complex as off-topic but have not defined what this means. Aug 28, 2019 at 23:55

Too trivial is a question that can be resolved within two minutes of research effort.

Example 1: In WP Codex Action reference, why are some hooks blue and others red?

Sure, developers using the Codex should know that. But clicking a red link and clicking a blue link explains the difference already. And Google leads to the matching MediaWiki help page fast.

Example 2: Simple Jquery Script Not Working in Wordpress
A syntax error. While it is not always easy to solve these, especially due to PHP’s rather poor error messages, it is possible and off topic too.

Also, question about using WordPress for regular blogging (writing a post, opening help) are too trivial. We are a site for developers and administrators, and we should focus on that.

Beginner level are questions with a very simple solution, but still relevant to understand WordPress’ internal logic, for example the load order of PHP files.

Example: Fatal error: Call to undefined function wp_create_nonce()
Looking at the source file for the function’s declaration should explain the issue, but it is useful to explain it together with a solution on our site.

What about the edge cases?

Example: Enable page templates. How?
We should search for duplicates and be slightly less liberal than usual, but leave these questions on our site and open if there are no dupes.

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    I think your syntax error question is an example of a question that is too localized, even if the underlying implementation is otherwise in-scope. Jan 8, 2013 at 17:33
  • I think you have just described 99% of the questions. Looking at the source, the docs, or Google would answer most questions. The ones that are left are not enough to justify WPSE. Dec 14, 2020 at 19:06

Too trivial questions include those that are answered only and entirely by linking to a Codex function reference entry.

Note 1: questions that include, but expound upon a Codex entry are valuable.

Note 2: this is another opportunity to pitch a Canonical Answer idea, for certain "classes" of questions that are generally answered with links to the Codex, such as script enqueueing, functions that return vs. echo their output, conditional tags, etc.


I would suggest (fearing flames of retribution while I do) that there should be no such thing as a too trivial question. Easy questions - when not duplicates - are questions less experienced developers have a hope of being able to answer well. If the question and the answers it gets are useful to even a small subset of users is that not the reason this site exists?

As I have said (at great length) questions too specific and questions not specific enough are both off-topic according to the help page but there is no guidance as to when these apply. Which means that niche questions, simple questions, and questions you or I might just not fancy can be marked off-topic. That's why this site is noob unfriendly. So much so that it makes SO look easy (and we all know how much of a learning curve our beloved SO has).

There should be nothing wrong with having several very similar questions if and only if the community is willing to provide answers. I fear though we have grown too quick to say, "f*** that question" and nuke it with extreme prejudice.

The fact I get quicker and better answers to WordPress question on SO suggests we have gotten something fairly fundamental wrong.

I have seen some undeniably terrible questions on SO and other sites I use that have nevertheless gathered astounding answers. Answers so good that even the badly written, poorly worded question is a valuable community resource. That does not seem to happen on WPSE.

Rather than nuking "bad" questions, we can and should educate users by upvoting good questions and solid answers - especially even half-decent answers to very bad questions. Today, I went to the "newest" tab and just (semi-randomly) upvoted some questions because not only was it a page of unloved and unanswered questions even those with answers had no votes for question or answer. That too is unique to WPSE.

In short, our own classification definitions are too broad and lack clarity. Also, we don't upvote reasonably good contributions often enough.

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