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I enjoy reading Seasoned Advice and answering questions. I even got a question answered here which has been bugging me for 6 years. So I like the exchange and plan to hang around.

However, I'm noticing that two topics seem to dominate the exchange:

  • food safety
  • health/special diets

The food-safety related tags, for example, outnumber everything else in "recent tags". There aren't tags specifically associated with health topics, but I'd bet we'd see the same. I'm worried that those topics will completely take over the exchange and I'll lose interest in it.

Is there anything we can do to encourage more questions on other food topics?

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    I sympathize; the sheer number of barely-distinguishable food safety questions annoys a lot of us, but yossarian is right, the only cure is to ask fresh questions on more interesting topics. Personally, I have not noticed any disproportionate emphasis on health/diet topics - for the most part those questions are already off-topic and tend to get closed. – Aaronut Nov 25 '11 at 2:42
  • Aaronut, I'm going to point out that this has been a chronic issue since the board was started. See: meta.cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/1135/…. Clearly the only way to change this trend is to declare pure food safety questions off topic. – FuzzyChef Dec 2 '11 at 5:16
  • FWIW, I feel that the topic contents have changed the numbers dramatically. We're still getting a lot of stupid food-safety questions, but they are now a small minority. – FuzzyChef Jan 31 '12 at 6:06
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Declaring questions about food safety to be off-topic makes no sense. It's a vital topic taught in every culinary school and has everyday importance to any culinary professional. It's arguably more relevant to professionals than it is to home cooks, and that's a good thing.

We moderators may take some liberties in pre-emptively closing questions that are an extremely bad fit for the site, but the problem being identified here is not a problem with our . The problem we're seeing is duplication and poorly-written questions, both of which are the community's responsibility to deal with. Seasoned Advice provides several tools to handle this:

  1. Vote to close or flag the most flagrant duplicates as duplicates. Note that when flagging, you still must identify the duplicate, through the "it doesn't belong here" menu -> "exact duplicate" option.

  2. For poor-quality questions, edit them to be better quality. If they then turn out to be obvious duplicates, then refer back to #1. If the questions are completely unsalvageable then vote to close or flag them as Not A Real Question.

  3. Most importantly, edit questions and answers to be canonical references. This opens the door to closing future questions as duplicates. Our biggest problem with these food safety questions is that people reach for the low-hanging fruit and just answer them according to the specific circumstances ("yes, it's still good" or "no, don't eat that"). What we still don't have, after all this time, is a single point of reference for "the rules" - although I did try to make one myself (with little success; hardly any votes and nobody's used it as the source for a dupe vote) and we do have kind of a decent one on why you shouldn't break the rules.

  4. Also don't be shy about downvoting and/or using the Not Constructive close reasons for food safety questions that seem pointlessly nit-picky/argumentative or just fishing for validation of clearly unsafe practices. If a question tries to present a laundry list of mitigating factors why the rules shouldn't be followed in this instance then we also have the Too Localized close reason.

  5. Crazy as it sounds - lighten up a little. For those of us who visit the site every day, these questions can seem highly obnoxious - and they are truly, mind-numbingly dull - but if you check out the tag you'll see that the number isn't really that high, relative to other, more constructive questions about food safety. It's maybe 5% of the tag.

And of course, as yossarian says, you want to post as many good questions as you can; the list above is all about negative reinforcement and keeping the site clean, but without higher-quality content to replace it, we'll never solve the real problem.

  • Thanks, you've given me a bit to browse and look at. Too bad that the stackexchange platform doesn't allow us to create our own "flags" for this board. – FuzzyChef Dec 4 '11 at 18:55
  • @FuzzyChef: What flags/close reasons in particular do you feel are missing? Overall I'd say that the community has a lot of control over the quality and quantity of content. If you don't think that the community is doing the right thing in a particular area - and it certainly happens - then that's the time to contact a moderator, but we need something specific to act on as opposed to a general trend. – Aaronut Dec 5 '11 at 23:51
  • Aaronut, I think we need a "duplicate" flag, mainly, or a "is derivative of a generic question" flag. But let me start a new Meta for this. – FuzzyChef Dec 18 '11 at 8:00
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    @FuzzyChef: There is a duplicate flag. Choose "it doesn't belong here" when you bring up the flag menu. – Aaronut Dec 18 '11 at 13:42
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Lead by example; ask other questions.

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    Terse but true; people imitate what they see, so the better the depth and breadth of questions on the front page today, the better it will be tomorrow. – Aaronut Nov 25 '11 at 4:11
  • Paris lends itself to eating rather than meta. – yossarian Nov 25 '11 at 8:47
  • Yeah, I just don't have a lot of questions. I have avoided asking food safety questions just because I feel that there's already too many on the board. – FuzzyChef Nov 29 '11 at 2:07
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    @FuzzyChef, consider asking questions that you think are interesting but already know the answer to. I do that frequently to try and get good questions on to the site. If you do know the answer already, I'd suggest waiting a day or two before answering your own question. – yossarian Nov 29 '11 at 14:02
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I've just finished making a huge update to the tag wiki page for the tag.

Please check it out and leave comments here - or, if you have constructive edits, feel free to edit the wiki yourself.

I'm also going to propose a face-lift on the question, What do I need to know about temperature and food safety?. The author wrote the question poorly and included a partial list of answers in the question itself. I think we should start using this as the canonical reference to close repetitive questions of the form "is it safe to eat X that was left out for Y blah blah" as duplicates.

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