I'm confused about why this question wasn't closed as it seems to violate the recipe request policy.

How do you make paneer?

The accepted answer is a recipe which you could find using a google search (900,000 results for paneer recipes!), it's not a specific brand or restaurant, and the question shows no evidence of the OP doing any kind of homework of trying to make it first and indicating what went wrong.

Is this just a matter of oversight because it's an older post? Are moderators interested in eliminating these kinds of posts and should we bother pointing them out or should they be ignored? If the answer is to ignore the older ones, what would be considered old?


1 Answer 1


Despite what ended up being chosen as the answer, I see a number of very specific, objectively answerable questions in there:

  • What kind of milk do you need?
  • Can you use pasteurized & homogenized vitamin D milk (whole milk)?
  • Where do you get citric acid? I've seen some suggestions to use crushed children's aspirin. > * Is there a better, easily accessible source?
  • Are there regional variances in paneer? The paneer I am used to, and love, states that it's from the Rajasthan region of India.
  • How do you actually make it?

The only entry that even remotely resembles a "recipe request" is the very last one - and if that had been the entire question then I'm sure it would have been closed.

Except it wasn't the entire question; the ingredients were already specified at the start, and the preparation method is fairly standard cheese-making procedure. There's little room for interpretation or ambiguity.

Would some of this have been easy to find using Google? Possibly, but that's not important. Difficulty level is not a criteria unless the question is literally a dictionary or Wikipedia lookup (A trite "What is paneer?" question would have qualified for closure under that category). At no point did anybody say that recipe requests are bad because recipes are easy to find with Google; that is simply a red herring.

And yeah, as far as Indian cuisine goes, it's a pretty entry-level question. But it's neither open-ended nor speculative, which are the main characteristics of a recipe request.

If I've missed the point then feel free to enlighten me. As far as I can tell, it's a question about technique, not a request for recipes.

  • Why did the OP accept a recipe then? I'm trying to compare "How do you make Paneer?" with "How do you prepare Cholula?" and don't see a difference in the main question. For the Cholula question you mentioned 2 crucial points that were missing. I don't see those two crucial points in the Paneer request. If I post "How do you make a hamburger", list the ingredients with some questions and then ask how do you actually make it, it won't be closed? I'm not trying to give you a hard time, I'm obviously missing something here and don't understand what it is. May 5, 2011 at 23:57
  • To make it clearer, a recipe is a list of ingredients with instructions, and maybe some technique. The Paneer question is a list of ingredients with a request for instructions. May 6, 2011 at 0:12
  • @Todd: What the OP accepted isn't the issue. There are a few answers, and only one of them is a recipe. Thus the question clearly warranted more than a recipe. The paneer question was about how to turn milk into cheese with only citric acid. The Cholula question was asking how to concoct a specific flavour from a blank slate, without even a description of exactly what the flavour is or what makes it different from any other hot sauce. Frankly I'm having trouble believe that you're "not trying to give [anyone] a hard time" - I think that's exactly what you're trying to do.
    – Aaronut
    May 6, 2011 at 0:25
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    @Aaronut, a shame you can't trust that I'm truly confused by the recipe policy. It's not like I'm the first person. If the OP wasn't requesting a recipe, they wouldn't have accepted a recipe as an answer, no? Looking closer at all the answers for the Paneer question, I agree there were some tips about ingredient selection in the answers, but I don't see "How do you make Paneer?" is anything but a recipe request. I don't want to flag posts without reason and I don't want to post questions that will be closed. The policy isn't clear. I'm not asking for it to be clarified immediately. May 6, 2011 at 0:49
  • @Todd: Did you actually read anything other than the title? You still have yet to identify what isn't clear here.
    – Aaronut
    May 6, 2011 at 0:58
  • @Aaronut, I did a couple of times. All the detailed questions (other than one about regional differences) were just about ingredient selection. An example of what's not clear is that you said it's crucial for the OP to do some homework first and then say what went wrong. I didn't see it for this post and thought it should be flagged. But then thought it would really be better to ask first. I suggested it could be grandfathered which would be a reasonable explanation. I'm guessing "How do you turn raw beef and onion into a hamburger" would be closed even if I ask about ingredient selection? May 6, 2011 at 1:42
  • @Aaronut, I just found this answer. Apply it to the Paneer question. It takes the form "How do I make XXX?" (a no-no), it could attract many answers for all the known variations (sources of citric acid, etc), it doesn't target an expert (hundreds of millions can answer it). Does that help explain why the question looks like it should be closed? Good answer BTW, would love to see it directly in the FAQ. May 6, 2011 at 2:15
  • @Todd: Why yes, I do believe that a question about forming patties with the specific (and only) ingredients of raw beef and onion would be a valid question about technique, not a recipe request. The OP didn't ask for variations on paneer, he asked several specific questions about the process. You are apparently still comparing this to the cholula question and I will reiterate, there was no specific question there, it literally asked for a recipe and nothing else. It provided no starting point nor context. The paneer question did.
    – Aaronut
    May 6, 2011 at 4:01
  • @Aaronut, ok the "yes" for the hamburger question does help clarify a bit. It's not so much as I'm comparing it to the Cholula question as I don't understand why the Paneer question is not eligible for closing based on existing rules. It fails to meet several criteria you've set out as being crucial for "How do I make XXXX" questions. My impression is that the criteria is being applied in a very subjective way. I feel like I've already taken up too much of your time so I'll stop here and just trust your judgement. Maybe after using the site more it will be clearer to me. May 6, 2011 at 9:54
  • @Todd, I think if the question had been "I tried using a,b,c ingredients and using x,y,z to make cholula but it came out with problems r,s,t what did I do wrong?" Then it would have been an acceptable question. It's ok for the answer to a question to be include a recipe, often that's the easiest way to give an answer, it's just not ok to ask for a recipe.
    – yossarian
    May 6, 2011 at 14:54
  • @Aaronut, understand why the Cholula question got cancelled. Still don't understand why the Paneer question is not a recipe request based on your criteria. But we're going in circles :-) May 6, 2011 at 15:16
  • @Todd - the last reply was from yossarian, but anyway - the paneer question was specific and targeted, simple as that. Think of it this way; if the title had been "Paneer questions" instead of "How do I make paneer?", and the last bullet point had said "What is the standard curdling/pressing process used for paneer?" instead of "How do I actually make it?", then it wouldn't even look like a recipe request, but the meaning of the question (and the possible range of answers) would have been exactly the same. I'm not vouching for the writing style, just the substance.
    – Aaronut
    May 6, 2011 at 16:04
  • @Aaronut, @yossarian, if you look at the Paneer question objectively it passes every criteria for what identifies a recipe and it doesn't even come close to having a small range of answers. Could post 10 different Paneer recipes that would correctly answer all parts of the question. But I already said that before and didn't get any response. My goal was to understand if I should flag the question. Happy to leave it as "I don't know" and not flag it along with anything else in this gray area. If and when I'd like to post a question that I have doubts about I can always ask first. May 6, 2011 at 16:37
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    @Todd, a recipe really does not answer the question properly at all. I didn't vote for the recipe answer, and you'll have to take it up directly with hobodave and the voters if you want to know why it got the rating it did - that's another issue entirely. As far as I'm concerned, that was never a good answer, and you certainly could post 10 different paneer recipes and they would all be terrible answers because they wouldn't address any of the specific points. You might be able to infer answers from the aggregate, but the individual answers would be still be non-answers.
    – Aaronut
    May 6, 2011 at 16:52
  • @Todd Another angle: the accepted paneer answer happens to give trivial information, Kiam's answer provides substance that explains the issues in the question more thoroughly. If a question seems to be seeking trivial, fill-in-the-blank answers, it's probably on the wrong track. If it seeks answers that illuminate the entire problem and create an authoritative, works-in-most-scenarios answer that can be adapted to fit the rest, it's probably on the right track.
    – mfg
    May 6, 2011 at 18:20

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