So, let's try to hash this scope question out, once and for all.

Clearly, WordPress development questions are in scope, and easily defined/identified. The real questions are:

  1. What is the difference/line between WordPress administration and use?
  2. Should WordPress use questions (i.e. "user support") be in-scope?

Compounding these questions are the "rule of thumb" that questions answered with nothing more than a link to a Codex entry should not be considered as in-scope. I honestly don't know where this line should be drawn. Questions regarding how to install WordPress, proper server security/file-permissions settings, and the like are well-covered by the Codex, but could also be useful for the WPSE knowledge base.

So, I suppose we should add a litany of borderline admin/use questions, and up/down vote to indicate in/out of scope?

  • 2
    Just to clarify, I suggest people +1 topics they see as "in-scope" and -1 topics they see as "out-of-scope." Since +/- votes on Meta don't impact reputation, it's the easiest way to vote on things here. – EAMann Feb 9 '12 at 16:21
  • That's how I envisioned it, too. Also: please add more questions/topics, so that we can help clarify community consensus. – Chip Bennett Feb 9 '12 at 16:23

There are three classes of questions for any Stack Exchange site:

  1. Those that are specifically mentioned as being on topic. These define the core expertise of the site.
  2. Those that are specifically mentioned as being off topic. These define the hard limits of what the site is about. They have to be mentioned as some people will insist on asking clearly off topic questions simply because they're not explicitly banned.
  3. Those that are slightly outside the core expertise of the site, but still about the site's topic. These should be taken on a case by case basis until you get a pattern. At which point suggest a modification to the FAQ putting these questions into one of the above two categories.

There's no sense in trying to cover all eventualities in one go - you'll get it wrong. We tried that on Programmers and ended up having to change our FAQ several times to be less wordy.

The FAQ isn't set in stone. If you think something's wrong, do what you've done here and raise the issue on meta, but only for that particular instance.


Not a specific item, but my general opinion.

Forget official forums

I do not understand recent trend of "whom should we send to official forums". As for me - no one ever. We are not extension of official forums, we are not doing ourselves a favor by sending anyone there, we are likely not doing anyone a favor by sending them there.

Why waste energy on such unproductive activity?

FAQ is not set of holy instructions to uphold

By the sheer complexity of WordPress as product, software and industry - we won't ever have FAQ that describes every single possible question in and out of scope. I do not want to see every question hammered into rigid and overblown set of rules.

For every item currently in FAQ there is probably a way to come up with question that will be out of scope despite the rules saying it's in and vice versa.

Less written up logical constructs, more common sense.

What's up with "user hate"?

I've been WordPress user for a long time before I got into remotely considerable development.

What is wrong with question asked by user? Boring? Not challenging enough? That user might be better developer than any of us in a year. What will he remember about this site?

My rule of a thumb

I mentioned this in passing multiple times, but the more I use it the more sense it makes.

If question is same after taking WordPress out - then it is not in scope.

Again - common sense. We are given a lot of tools (such as votes and flags) to exercise our common sense.

  • "User hate" is a straw man. There is no "user hate". If we want to answer "user" questions, that's completely fine. Just update the FAQ/Scope accordingly. On the other hand: if user-support questions are out of scope, then why not direct them to the official WPORG support forums? Isn't that better than closing the question without pointing the user somewhere to ask the question? – Chip Bennett Feb 12 '12 at 18:35
  • @Chip I think I already commented somewhere that I don't get where idea that users are excluded comes from. In FAQ I emphasized administrators (as in users with more capabilities that deal with whole site, as opposed to users with very restricted roles) but that absolutely doesn't imply any other kind of user is not welcomed to ask WordPress question here. If you want FAQ edited to precisely reflect that - that can be done. – Rarst Feb 12 '12 at 18:42
  • yes, if that's the case, then I think the FAQ does need to be updated. If our scope is effectively going to be your rule of Thumb, then the FAQ should state that, explicitly. If our scope is intended to differentiate between "users with more capabilities that deal with whole site, as opposed to users with very restricted roles", then we need to clarify what, exactly, that means. In fact: understanding that differentiation is exactly the purpose of this question. – Chip Bennett Feb 13 '12 at 13:48
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    @Chip the scope does not intend to make such differentiation. Scope says for whom this site is first. I repeat - that does not mean that any other kind of a user is forbidden from participating. This is stack about WordPress. Not development. Not administration. Just about WordPress. – Rarst Feb 13 '12 at 14:19
  • who makes that call? It seems we only have three people even caring enough to participate in this discussion. While such a sample is clearly too small to use as a basis for community-consensus decision-making, I note that two out of three people disagree with the assertion that all WordPress-related questions are within our scope. – Chip Bennett Feb 13 '12 at 14:22
  • @Chip community made that call by not screaming "let's kick out end users!" when FAQ was written. Right now FAQ does not mean that because I did not write it to mean that. I am not against discussing end-user questions (I am strongly against excluding them), but please don't try to bend current letter of FAQ to mean that not explicitly mentioned means forbidden. It does not. – Rarst Feb 13 '12 at 14:29
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    I don't have a preference either way; I'm simply trying to follow the rules/scope as written. I came after the Beta period, and was not privy to what transpired then. Thus, I can only go by what is written in the FAQ. Nobody here is screaming, "let's kick out end users!". That's another straw man. If anything, I'm screaming, "let's clarify the FAQ, and then adhere to it". If end-user questions are in-scope, then clarify the scope accordingly. – Chip Bennett Feb 13 '12 at 14:42
  • @Chip scope thread - What should our FAQ contain?. Please put that you would like users to be written in if they are under my post there. I will keep an eye on this thread and how voting votes for more items that we might need to specify in FAQ, but so far I don't see any worthwhile and heavily up/down voted. – Rarst Feb 13 '12 at 14:46
  • To be fair: nothing is being heavily voted, period. That's part of the problem. (And reading through that FAQ-related question, I don't see much clarification there, either, regarding WordPress end-user features being in or out of scope.) – Chip Bennett Feb 13 '12 at 15:08
  • @Chip whatever is about WP (see "common sense" and "rule of a thumb" parts of answer) and not forbidden is allowed. Of course it doesn't mean that everything that fits such is great question - that is what flags like "too localized" and "not constructive" are for. – Rarst Feb 14 '12 at 12:38

How to manage a standalone media folder: How to manage a standalone media folder?

While this question is terribly interesting, and is asked in the context of Wordpress, I don't see how either the question or the answer will in any way be specific to WordPress.

The question essentially asks how to handle static media in a source/version-control environment.

  • I'm leaning toward out-of-scope, but I'd love to hear some feedback on this one. – Chip Bennett Feb 10 '12 at 17:05
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    You can abstract any question to a non-WordPress level if you think long enough. But any question asking for side effects raised by WordPress is okay. Even if there are no such side effects. – fuxia Feb 10 '12 at 20:13
  • @toscho it's that line that I'm really driving at here. Where should it lie? So, I'll ask: in what way is this question asking about "side effects raised by WordPress"? – Chip Bennett Feb 10 '12 at 20:20
  • How a moved uploads directory may affect the upload functionality is exactly such a question, imho. The answer to that would be very different for Joomla, Drupal or Modx, so it is WordPress specific. – fuxia Feb 10 '12 at 21:38
  • I agree with that; however, by my reading of the question, that's not at all what's being asked. – Chip Bennett Feb 10 '12 at 21:41
  • You know, you can edit questions, do you? If you see a question that you can make more WordPress related without changing the authors intention – do it. Much more helpful than a close vote. ;) I don't see the need for that on that question tough. – fuxia Feb 10 '12 at 22:07
  • This would be out of scope in more general form, but it explicitly says that solution needs to integrate with WP admin. It might be lesser part of a question, but it is quite important bit that brings it into WP specifics. – Rarst Feb 13 '12 at 14:41
  • @Rarst then would such a question be too localized (or not constructive)? Part of my issue with this particular question is that it seems to boil down to find a Plugin for me. Is that type of question in-scope? I wonder about the usefulness of "find my Plugin for me" or "find my Theme for me" questions. – Chip Bennett Feb 13 '12 at 14:46
  • I think it's dangerously close to "too localized" in current form. Plugin/theme recommendation is in scope (so far at least), but it very easily falls into "too localized" bin. I tend to strongly recommend to spend extra effort to make such question a good one (clear, answerable, useful to others, etc) or it risks getting closed. – Rarst Feb 13 '12 at 14:56
  • How do I install WordPress?
  • I am having trouble installing WordPress
  • I am having issues with XYZ Theme.
  • How do I modify XYZ Theme?
  • XYZ Plugin isn't working right.
  • Does XYZ Plugin work with ABC Theme?
  • Since I can't vote my own answers: I consider this out of scope. – Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 20:27
  • With the exception of the default themes that ship with WP, I agree. – EAMann Feb 8 '12 at 21:40
  • For the sake of discussion: why and how would you make an exception for the default-bundled Theme(s)? – Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 21:41
  • "Why" because they're bundled and to many new users are indistinguishable from WP itself. "How" would entirely depend on the question. – EAMann Feb 8 '12 at 21:43
  • ...which begets the question: are mere WordPress users the target audience of WPSE, or are only developers and administrators the target audience? – Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 21:45
  • I think that's the core of the issue :-) And probably a longer discussion altogether. – EAMann Feb 8 '12 at 21:46
  • It's also at the core of this particular question, so what better place to discuss it? :) – Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 21:47
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    Perfect example: wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/41744/… - this is a general user support question regarding how to make a Plugin work. I consider it off-topic, too localized, and probably not a real question. – Chip Bennett Feb 9 '12 at 16:01
  • It's a real question, but definitely too localized and belongs in the support forums rather than here. – EAMann Feb 9 '12 at 16:20
  • As for me many/most of such will be too localized but that doesn't mean all of them are. – Rarst Feb 13 '12 at 14:22

How do I use XYZ feature of WordPress?

(Related: XYZ feature of WordPress isn't working, etc.)

("Feature" in this context refers to end-user features/UI, not development features and APIs).

  • Since I can't vote my own answers: I consider this out of scope. – Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 20:25
  • I think "XYZ feature" is a bit too broad to make a call here. If the feature is "how do I upload a video?" then yes, out of scope. If the feature is "how do I properly associate a custom taxonomy with a custom post type" then it would be very much in-scope. – EAMann Feb 8 '12 at 21:42
  • But associating a custom taxonomy with a custom post type isn't a feature; rather, it is an implementation, and IMHO would fall under development. – Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 21:43
  • I agree. But many people see taxonomies and CPTs as features of WordPress. If we're trying to keep things abstract and flexible, we need to be as clear as possible when we make these distinctions. – EAMann Feb 8 '12 at 21:47
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    Okay, so, this may only further muddy the waters, but: how about differentiating between user features and development features? A "user" would never be registering a CPT or custom taxonomy, but would only be creating posts and/or terms for CPTs or custom taxonomies that have already been created. – Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 21:49
  • Perfect distinction. I've made a note and agree entirely. – EAMann Feb 8 '12 at 21:51
  • How is question about WordPress end-user feature not a WordPress question? – Rarst Feb 13 '12 at 14:20
  • @Rarst that's what this voting is for: to determine community consensus regarding what types of WordPress-related questions are in scope or out of scope. – Chip Bennett Feb 13 '12 at 14:25

Link images to a site with NextGen Gallery

Very Plugin-specific - actually, asking about how to integrate/use a Plugin for a Plugin - i.e., an extension of an extension.

Off-topic? Too localized?

  • I think it's unclear in current form, might or might not make sense but definitely needs clarification. – Rarst Feb 15 '12 at 17:16

How do I install PHP and MySQL in Amazon EC2 cloud server?

I would include here: any questions that involve server configuration that does not specifically pertain to WordPress-required configuration (which can be in-scope, certainly).

  • Again: I consider this out of scope. – Chip Bennett Feb 10 '12 at 14:06
  • Out as per FAQ - generic technologies merely in WP context. – Rarst Feb 13 '12 at 14:38

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