9

I think that we've been ignoring the elephant in the room.

Underlying all of the current arguments about the inclusion of alcohol- and beverage-related questions (which, IMO, don't seem to be converging on any community consensus) is a question that's really a lot more fundamental:

Is the subject of "serving" food relevant to a cooking Q&A site?

Serving is really a vast subject, when you get right down to it. By definition, it includes such topics as:

  • Wine pairing, temperatures and preparation (i.e. decanting)
  • Presentation
  • Dinnerware, table-setting, etc.
  • Cocktail mixing (IMO)
  • Serving equipment (from chafing dishes to pizza cutters)
  • Course planning (menus)

All of these topics have a common thread; they tend to happen before or after the food is cooked, or independently of the cooking by a 3rd party. They are not cooking in and of themselves, but are integral parts of an entire "meal." Whether you're throwing a dinner party or just having a date over, these are all things you ought to know.

However, many of them were also voted off-topic on Area 51. I think that some of us feel like we've been given the old switcheroo. Nevertheless, here we are, 1 day away from the public beta, so the question we desperately need to answer definitively is:

Does serving being closely related to cooking justify its inclusion?

Please consider all of the following in your answers:

  • How significantly does it broaden the scope of the site?
    • Will the result still be a coherent community?
    • Could it attract a different "enthusiast" user base (and if so, is it one we want?)
  • Will it attract the experts we want?
    • Is there any chance it could turn away the experts we want?
  • Are there at least some questions objective enough to properly fit into a Q&A format?
  • Will it add value to the site in general? Will it make us more or less unique than other sites?
  • Any other comments?

Let's do this right. If the community agrees that serving, in general, should be included in the site's scope, I'll gladly drop any specific arguments against pairings, mixing and so on.*

Thoughts?


* Although that's still not a free pass to ask subjective questions. On-topic status is just one of several factors that determine whether or not a question should remain open.

  • Sorry, I'm not buying this. Trying to include the choice of which plates to use or which tool to cut a pizza has nothing to do with how to choose a wine to accompany a meal or how to mix a cocktail. – Pulse Jul 16 '10 at 15:02
  • @Pulse: Not "buying" what? Do you have a point to make that wine pairing is not an aspect of serving, or is this just another stubborn "I don't like where this is going" thing? Can you at least try to make a rational argument for once? – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 15:06
  • @Aaronaught Apologies, but you seem to have a problem understanding me. Granted English isn't my first language so it's likely I'll make mistakes. however, I believe my earlier statement was concise. Deciding which plates to use for ones dinner party, or discussing the merits of pink versus white table napkins, in the context of this site is not the same as discussing the use and consumption of various beverages. – Pulse Jul 16 '10 at 15:41
  • @Pulse: I never said that they were the same. I said that they are all part of a larger category, and that many people's objections to the specific sub-categories (including mine) are a natural result of their objections to the main category. Serving and Cooking are both sub-categories of Food. Just as allowing some questions about alcohol does not mean we have to allow all questions, allowing some questions about serving does not mean we must allow all. I created this to give people an opportunity to rationally address one of the more serious criticisms of certain topics. – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 16:01
  • And @Pulse, I really think you should reconsider your position, because if you stop to think about it, using serving as the parent category is a lot less ambiguous and contentious than using drinks or alcohol as the parent category. Beer brewing definitively doesn't fit under the definition of serving. Wine pairing does. This is what you want, isn't it? – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 16:02
  • Meh. I will eventually +1 this because I think the intentions behind the question are good. However, I spent all my daily meta votes in the domain name thread. :( I don't think that trying to answer these questions with respect to the super-topic of 'serving' is the best approach, but that each subtopic should be narrowly defined and decided. – hobodave Jul 16 '10 at 16:25
  • @Aaronaught The term "serving' is far to ambiguous, so I've answered lower down. – Pulse Jul 16 '10 at 17:03
8

This is a great question to ask. I'll start by saying that whether something was voted as on or off-topic in Area 51 should have little or no bearing on this. This should be decided based on the discussion that will occur in this thread.

I'll address each of the topics in your bullet points:

Wine pairing, temperatures and preparation (i.e. decanting)

I consider this on topic. Does it broaden the scope of the site? Yes, it does but I think the added value is worth it. I think that a scope of "food" where food is defined as an edible solid, and a scope of "cooking" defined as applying heat to food until it is done, is simply too narrow and restrictive. World renowned culinary institutes who, by definition, churn out expert chefs all require classes in wine pairing. Granted they aren't at the level of a sommelier, but they typically have beyond a layman's level knowledge. If this site happens to attract expert sommelier's, I only see that as a benefit to the community. Many dishes can only be fully expressed with the proper pairing as recommended by the chef. I'll reuse this point for the other topics, but I strongly feel that "food and cooking" is strongly coupled to beverages, and includes full meal experience.

Presentation

This can become a gray area. However in the context of food presentation I think this is very much on-topic. Again, I'll return to the expert chef example. An expert chef is expected to have food presentation skills. Presentation is essential to a great meal experience. Assuming we do attract experts chefs, they will have this knowledge, and it will provide a benefit to the community. As an example, but not a reason (there's a difference), look at any televised cooking competition or even the penultimate Bocuse d'Or, presentation is very much a part of the judgement of dishes.

However, I'd say we would draw the line at food presentation. I wouldn't consider floral arrangements, tablecloths, or other environmental accessories as appropriate for this site.

Dinnerware, table-setting, etc.

Eh. I don't feel as strongly about this as I have the previous two. This can sort of blend with presentation. I'd say that table-setting is too far out there. However, choice of plate can be tied into presentation. An example is one of my favorite Chicago restaurants Bonsoiree, some of their dishes use unconventional dishes for presentation that really accent and add to the enjoyment of the meal.

Cocktail mixing (IMO)

I also don't feel that strongly about this. Of all the bullet points this is the most likely to be able to sustain it's own site. However, please note that I'm referring specifically to the mixing of cocktails. Cocktail should not become a dirty word here. If cocktail mixing itself were deemed off-topic, I would still consider as valid:

  • Can I serve xxx with a cocktail?
  • What cocktail would go with xxx?

Serving equipment (from chafing dishes to pizza cutters)

Eh. Really broad topic in itself. I see a pizza cutter as a tool like a knife more so than a piece of serving equipment. In that aspect, I'd say it is ok. However presentational dishes? Eh, some might see this as contradictory to my answer on dinnerware above, but I'll point out again that I don't feel that strongly about these. I think that serving dishes are a little to Home & Gardeny a topic for this site.

Course planning (menus)

I absolutely think this is on topic. This falls under my belief that food and cooking should cover more than just the time in the pan. Cooking is much more than this. Pairing an entree with appropriate appetizers, side dishes, and desserts is knowledge an expert chef will have. They are taught this, and are expected to know it. We can only benefit from this knowledge.


Basically, I think that having the scope of this site defined too narrowly is more of a detriment and risk to the future success of this site than a reasonably broad scope. If we look at the amount of knowledge and the breadth of knowledge that an expert chef is going to have, we should be very hesitant to exclude a subset of that knowledge from this community. This type of exclusion does have the potential to exclude an expert chef.

Another thing to keep in mind is that cooking is as much art as it is science, if not more so. I've seen it suggested by others, and I am inclined to agree, that we need to accept a greater degree of subjectivity and creativity in the content of this site than we do in StackOverflow. Programming is logical, there is often only one answer, or just different ways of giving the same answer. Approaching Food and Cooking as if we're trying to create some Turing complete community for cooking is doing the potential this community has for greatness harm.


Update

I didn't initially address your "Will it make us more or less unique than other sites?" question. I'll do that briefly here.

I think that our uniqueness from other sites is guaranteed. The whole StackOverflow concept is unlike anything that has been done before. Yea, there have been wikis, forums, expert exchanges, etc. in the past, but noone has ever rolled them into one and actually made something amazingly useful out of it. The format of this site alone is going to make us unlike anything out there. Hell, these discussions we have make us unlike anything out there. We shouldn't get hung up on trying to narrowly define our scope as a way to make ourselves unique, we already are. (To those who prefer to forgo logic when reading, this in no way implies that we should have no regard for scope.)


Another Update

I also want to address this statement of yours: "Nevertheless, here we are, 1 day away from the public beta, so the question we desperately need to answer definitively ...". I don't think we do. I don't think there is a desperation or that we need to have a definitive answer. Not to mention that we likely won't. We are a small minority of the future vast community this site will become. Yes, I've read the 7 Essential Meta Questions. I'm aware that this is the phase where we sculpt and determine the future course of this site. That doesn't mean we have a deadline to decide every important and far reaching decision. That link even states that it took a year to iron out what topics were considered on and off topic for the FAQ. The guidelines there encourage us to "Talk about these issues in meta, early and often." This is what we are doing. Take note of the often. This does not equate to "Decide these issues early." That's a very different thing.

If anything I think one of the conclusions we need to take away from private beta, and into public beta is that we won't have a definitive answer for this. Because we are a community and we make the rules here, it's perfectly acceptable to recognize that making rules for this Food & Cooking community is going to be significantly more difficult and intricate than for StackOverflow or ServerFault. We should acknowledge this gray area, embrace it, and use the blade of objectivity to gently shave and sculpt our site not hack and slash.

  • Thank you for taking the time to write this. Even though I don't agree with all of it, I appreciate that we can all take a step and try to have a civil debate. BTW, I did mean food presentation and not things like floral arrangements. – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 15:39
  • Oh, and I also do agree about the inherent subjectivity of cooking topics, which is why I used the term "objective enough" as opposed to just "objective". I think many if not most questions here will be subjective, and that's OK - there is still a difference of degree, though. "What is the effect of the fat content of milk when making cottage cheese?" is far less subjective than "What's the best wine to serve with Chicken Cordon Bleu?" Even if we decide that both are in scope - it's a pretty big difference. – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 15:48
  • 1
    I agree. I also tend to have a distaste for any question that includes a word with an -est suffix. "What are three possible varietals to serve with Chicken Cordon Bleu?" passes my objective enough test. – hobodave Jul 16 '10 at 15:50
  • With respect to your second edit: Yes, the site will evolve over time, but it would be a lot easier to expand the scope at some future date than it would be to shrink it. Once a subject is cemented into the site's collective consciousness, you really can't take it away. If this very small community cannot form any kind of consensus now, it does not bode well for the future when the community is much larger. – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 17:47
1

The problem I have with this question (it is a very good question, and gets to the issue at hand very well) is that it seems to be all or nothing. This seems to be a form of argument that I feel is detrimental to the discussion at hand. Lumping all of these topics into one boat called "Serving" is a really leading way to say that if you want to allow questions like "What are some brands of quality pizza cutters?" then you must also allow questions like "What color tablecloth should I use if I'm serving quiche?"

I don't mean to call Aaronaught out on this, because this is a quality discussion that needs to get ironed out. I just think the topic should really be (and I think that hobodave covered it pretty well) "How far removed from the food should the scope of this site be?" If we want to cut out all questions that don't have to do with cooking food directly ("What temperature do I cook a duck?") then we are really tying our hands behind our backs. If however we want to allow tools used to work with food ("How do I sharpen a cleaver?") then we open it up a little. With each additional topic allowed, the site becomes more useful, so long as it doesn't become too much.

Before I address the individual questions, the questions that should be allowed are anything that goes into making a meal taste good. This notably removes presentation from the fold, and not being a chef I don't fully appreciate what presentation adds to the meal. I'm not saying presentation should be out; I would enjoy such questions. Rather I mean to say that my simple test "does it help it taste good?" should be enhanced if other topics are agreed to be on-topic.

To answer the specifics

How significantly does it broaden the scope of the site?

We are working on the scope, so no decisions actually broaden the scope, just more clearly define it. As an exercise we should start a meta thread where we start with a scope of zero and slowly add the topics that need to be in the scope. Then we can see how exactly the scope is broadened and how that may affect the goal.

Will the result still be a coherent community?

The coherence will come from people trying to make delicious food. If we draw in people who are more interested in pairing wine, that is a useful part of the community. I don't see how the community is any less coherent.

Could it attract a different "enthusiast" user base (and if so, is it one we want?)

I understand that allowing questions on brewing introduces that whole community that might result in "enthusiasts" who we do not want around. But if the "enthusiasts" instead are discussing something that will add to preparing a great meal I say let them aboard.

Will it attract the experts we want?

This is something that nobody here can really say. If we allow something we might offend the masses of chefs who really hate people who talk about that. But if we disallow that same thing the same group of chefs could feel like they aren't allowed to talk about what they want.

Is there any chance it could turn away the experts we want?

I guess so.

Are there at least some questions objective enough to properly fit into a Q&A format?

I think a lot of these questions end up tapping into the experience of others, so as long as the question doesn't use the word best, they can be objective enough (ex. "What appetizers have you served before serving lamb chops?")

Will it add value to the site in general? Will it make us more or less unique than other sites?

The value comes from the format, not the narrowness of the topics. Experts aren't going to come here because it is the best place to ask questions about braising, but because they will get those answers alongside answers about cheese pairing in the SO format.

Any other comments?

Are there any chefs involved in the beta thus far? Could you step up to answer some of these questions from your point of view?

  • It's not a form of argument, and it's not all or nothing. You and Pulse both seem to be interpreting this as some sort of attack, but we're never going to get anywhere if we can't even agree on fundamental questions such as this. We can easily say that serving questions are in scope and then rule out specific subtopics. – Aaronut Jul 17 '10 at 21:21
  • @Aaronaught I don't see it as an attack at all, it's really just an obfuscated way of trying to get people to vote as off-topic something, you don't wish, for what ever reasons, to be included. As for attacks, perhaps you should re-read your last few posts aimed at me. So far you have accused be of failing to make rational arguments, "hand-waving", spreading "alarmist rhetoric", denying I an able to make a point and having a "one track mind" I could go on. – Pulse Jul 18 '10 at 2:35
  • @Pulse: And yet here you are again ascribing negative motivations to me and being alarmist without making a point about the actual content. Would you please stop doing that? Stop acting as though you're one step ahead of everybody else and just answer the question directly, or don't answer at all. – Aaronut Jul 18 '10 at 18:06
  • @Aaronaught I can't believe you! I make a post indicating the number of times you have personally slighted me and the first thing you do in response is slight me again! Very well. The point is, to date you have not produced a single substantive reason as to why the area under discussion should be disallowed. In fact, you went so far, as to positively refuse to answer the question. Personally, if you can't put-up, you have no place commenting. In the future, please keep your decidedly unpleasant verbiage to yourself. Thank you. – Pulse Jul 18 '10 at 21:43
  • @Pulse: You really need to look in a mirror sometime. I refused to answer your question because it was a deliberate attempt to derail the discussion, and if you can't stay on-topic, then you can keep your "decidedly unpleasant verbiage to yourself." – Aaronut Jul 19 '10 at 1:42
  • @Aaronaught Thanks for that. As you seem incapable of posting a comment without making an insult. I shall refrain from answering any more of your posts. Personally, until I see some sign that your motives, what ever they may be, are genuine this discussion is dead. Please don't bother to respond. – Pulse Jul 19 '10 at 3:25
  • @Aaronaught: This wasn't meant as an attack, and I feel I was just pointing out a flaw in your categorization. Beside that I went on to answer it despite my reservations. Apparently I just fueled a fight between yourself and Pulse. I apologize. – plor Jul 19 '10 at 15:44
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Here are my own thoughts, and I'm trying to be as honest and forthright as possible:

  • How significantly does it broaden the scope of the site?

A lot, honestly. Certain serving topics didn't draw much interest until recently, but I think that's partly because many people assumed that they were out of scope. If they are officially (or tacitly) designated as in-scope, I could see many hundreds or even thousands of such questions being generated over time.

o Will the result still be a coherent community?

Probably, yes. It's all basically the same industry, and most people who know how to cook know something about serving, or at least are aware that there's something to know.

o Could it attract a different "enthusiast" user base (and if so, is it one we want?)

This is one I worry about. Certain topics, particularly alcohol but also possibly meal & course planning, might draw a crowd that isn't really interested in cooking. I obviously can't predict the impact, but it's something worth considering.

  • Will it attract the experts we want?

I don't think so. If a pastry chef has any inclination to visit a cooking Q&A site, it's going to be to discuss specialized topics with other pastry chef. This is the vision of the Stack Exchange team as I understand it - giving experts the opportunity to find other experts in the same subject area. That pastry chef is not coming here to get answers on wine pairings - he can find that anywhere.

o Is there any chance it could turn away the experts we want?

Maybe, if it starts to look like that's what our site is primarily about. That's admittedly unlikely, but maybe we should take steps to limit the possibility.

  • Are there at least some questions objective enough to properly fit into a Q&A format?

I don't rightly know. I can't think of any that aren't incredibly basic, but maybe somebody else has examples.

  • Will it add value to the site in general? Will it make us more or less unique than other sites?

It will only add value if the questions (or at least the answers) are of an "expert" nature. Basic wine pairing questions have been done to death on 500 other forums. Food presentation questions that tell you how to make a fried chicken dish look like a gourmet item - that's a bit more of a niche.

  • Any other comments?

Just one. We should consider our "Adam & Eve" sites, Stack Overflow and Server Fault, as examples to be followed, because they've both been quite successful.

  • Server administration really is germane to programming for a huge number of programmers. However, it isn't programming. The team considered this off-topic. Do we want to follow their example, or not?

  • Even though Server Fault came after Stack Overflow, it didn't seem to hurt Stack Overflow's success. There's no evidence of a massive contingent of users who came and said "Pfft, screw you, if I can't ask questions about IP monitoring here then what good are you?" The small number of questions were quietly closed as off-topic, and eventually, when SF was ready, quietly migrated. We could do the same. On the other hand, maybe we don't have a big enough "seed" like SO did.

With all of this in mind, I'm still leaning toward "Off-topic." But I can be persuaded one way or the other. There are some merits to having it in scope, even though I think they're outweighed by the potential risks.

  • Heh. We did the complete opposite things. I enumerated the subtopics that you grouped under "serving", and you enumerated your questions for the super-topic of serving. :P I honestly believe there is a middle ground somewhere in this topic of serving. Let me know what you think in my answer. – hobodave Jul 16 '10 at 15:43
  • @hobodave: That's okay, you did at least address those points, even if they weren't in the exact format that I was expecting. What's important is to approach this logically, with an eye for what's likely to be best for the entire community based on the core mission of attracting experts and maintaining a repository of expert (and preferably unique) knowledge. Mainly I'm just trying to escape from the hostile little pit that we all managed to dig ourselves into with the alcohol debates, and again, I appreciate all the help I can get here! – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 16:07
  • 2
    Just to respond to your point about Server Fault and StackOverflow, those are two massive sites. Splitting them out was helpful for SO because it already has such an insane amount of content. This site is significantly less popular and probably always will be. You seem concerned that this site will become mostly about drinks if we allow it, but the fact of the matter is that there are very few drink questions that are not subjective or asking for recipes, so this will probably end up how it is now (with one or two out of every 500 questions being about drinks). – Brendan Long Jul 17 '10 at 16:03
  • To add to what Brendan said, I don't remember anything "quiet" about the pre-serverfault handling of server questions on SO. A lot of us had good reason to want a pure programming site, but getting that was - and in a lot of ways, still is - a major headache for anyone trying to be involved. For that reason alone, I'm trying to be a little less apt to jump on fringe topics here - if it's not a vast subject with many sub-topics of its own, and you can make a reasonable argument that it pertains to food in some way, let it stay. – Shog9 Jul 17 '10 at 17:15
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My thoughts:

Is the subject of "serving" food relevant to a cooking Q&A site?

The word "Serving" is really not the most appropriate term for the subject matter you have presented. It's simply not broad enough. Ideally a better description would have been something like Planning, preparation and delivery.

Wine pairing, temperatures and preparation (i.e. decanting)

Agreed that there is an element of the aforementioned in the selection, preparation and presentation of any beverage, however I don't believe this is off-topic.

Presentation

A vast subject and one that couldn't possibly be covered by a text based QA site. Trying to describe how to make a cucumber fan without recourse to a visual demonstration would be near impossible.

Dinnerware, table-setting, etc.

Deciding which dinner plates to use for an informal get together is not terribly useful, however a question regarding the correct layout of the cutlery, crockery and glasses for a formal situation, does not have a subjective answer.

Cocktail mixing (IMO)

I view this in the same way as the first question regarding 'pairing' and thus not off-topic.

Serving equipment (from chafing dishes to pizza cutters)

There has already been several discussions related to 'hardware' so I'll leave this, for now.

Course planning (menus)

This falls into the same category as dinnerware above.

but are integral parts of an entire "meal."

That of course is the key. A given beverage is integral to the meal and accordingly, should be given as much credence as the food it accompanies. Hence, questions related to beverages should not be off topic.

However, many of them were also voted off-topic on Area 51. I think that some of us feel like we've been given the old switcheroo.

Actually, that's incorrect. See my comment in this thread What type of drink related questions are on topic?

How significantly does it broaden the scope of the site?

It certainly won't lessen the sites appeal and personally, I believe restricting these sorts of questions will be a detriment.

Will the result still be a coherent community?

Why should including questions related to beverages result is a less 'coherent" community?

Could it attract a different "enthusiast" user base (and if so, is it one we want?)

Anyone that has s serious interest in the culinary arts will be just as interested in the consumption of food as they are wine and spirits. I don't see where this other 'enthusiast' will come form.

Will it attract the experts we want?

Why shouldn't it? Quite frankly, restricting the site to cooking food without allowing recourse to related subject matter will cause this site to die a quick death. The cooking of food alone is far to narrow a subject to sustain this site for long.

Is there any chance it could turn away the experts we want?

See above.

Are there at least some questions objective enough to properly fit into a Q&A format?

Not sure I understand the question?

Will it add value to the site in general? Will it make us more or less unique than other sites?

The format is unique, so it's already halfway there. I personally believe it will be cutting our own throats if we shut the door on this subject area. Sustainability is the question and restricting questions to the cooking and preparation of food alone will not be enough.

  • It's unfortunate that you felt the need to respond by falling back into the [alcoholic] beverages argument (even linking to it), handwaving away most of the other subtopics, not really directly addressing any of the pro/con factors I asked about, and retreating back into the alarmist rhetoric of "we have to include it otherwise the site will die." I do appreciate you taking the time to contribute a response, but the actual content of the response seems once again geared toward derailing the discussion rather than building a consensus. Sorry - I honestly thought you'd have more to say. – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 17:44
  • @Aaronaught I haven't got a clue what you're talking about. The link I gave was to my comment regarding the misconception that it was all done and dusted on A51, it wasn't. I addressed all of your questions and made some observations you didn't ask for, I'm sorry if you see it as otherwise. There is nothing alarmist in any of my comments I'm just being realistic, which is more than you have been, thus far. As for "derailing the discussion' I'm not the one that keeps inventing topics about why we shouldn't include this subject matter. – Pulse Jul 16 '10 at 17:54
  • @Aaronaught To be honest, you still haven't given one solid, convincing reason why beverages should not be allowed. What I have seen is the same old same old repeatedly regurgitated and it's getting stale. So please, in black and white, convince me why we shouldn't include beverages. – Pulse Jul 16 '10 at 17:57
  • "Inventing topics?" I have a grand total of two questions here, one of which pertains to the FAQ. Can you explain your use of the plural? – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 17:57
  • @Pulse: And again your comment reveals your one-track mind, that your sole concern is making sure your favourite subject gets accepted, damn anyone and anything else. I came into this question with an open mind and even upvoted dave's well-written answer, and said flat-out that if serving is a legitimate topic then we should accept pairings and cocktails. This question isn't about beverages, and if you can't see that or respond without hammering it again and again, then I'm afraid you haven't really answered the question at all. – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 18:02
  • No, I absolutely will not answer that question. I am not getting sucked into another pointless argument with you about something that has nothing to do with the subject that's actually being discussed. – Aaronut Jul 16 '10 at 18:03
  • @Aaronaught I'm sorry but you really do appear to have missed the point I've been trying to make. It has nothing to do with it being my "favourite subject" or having a "one-track mind" The point, as I've said many times and which you disagree with, is that food and drink go together at many different levels and to include one without the other would be like riding a horse and cart without the horse. – Pulse Jul 16 '10 at 18:10
0

If it is of use to common and/or advanced cooks, is about food, and has objective answers -- I'm calling it on-topic. I could even see the occational CW about serving guests and dinner party tips and other such peripheral non-cooking topics.

0

Sorry for not following the directives, but it's too late and I guess all this is complicating things too much. I'd settle for a lot easier, admittedly more ambiguous, way:

As long as the question is not asking for a recipe (be it for a drink or for a meal) and is directly related to the preparation of food and meal making and it's answerable in a relatively objective manner, it should be on-topic.

when and if (it may never happen) too many questions of a particular sub-topic appear, then it's time to worry about moving them to another site.

The scope would be broadened a bit of course but I don't see it as a bad thing, especially because the experts we aim at know at least a decent amount about all these things.

Also, a single place to look for expert knowledge in everything food related (excepting recipes) is certainly more appealing to me as a user.

  • It's starting to look as though keeping recipes off the site may prove more difficult than originally anticipated... anyway, overall I agree although the rub is in the term "directly." There's sort of a degrees-of-separation concern to worry about here; 1 degree is probably not an appropriate (otherwise questions about equipment maintenance are off-topic); on the other hand, questions about where to get the cheapest cognac or the best rates on laminated menus seem preposterously off-topic. They all relate sort of indirectly to food/cooking, it's just a question of how indirect. – Aaronut Jul 18 '10 at 1:54
  • @Aaronaught: Exactly. And my idea is to leave it ambiguous and see on a case by case basis, letting the community decide what's going to happen on borderline cases. This way you can let some things pass that wouldn't have to otherwise if you started restricting by subtopic, but at the same time having enough flexibility to handle things (marking them off topic) that are not felt on topic by the community... [continues] – Vinko Vrsalovic Jul 18 '10 at 8:56
  • [continued] ..The whole "that subject yes, this not but only if the questioner aims to ask about food, and the other only on a full moon" notion seems a bit complex to no real gain, you'd still have those borderline cases, only a lot more of them – Vinko Vrsalovic Jul 18 '10 at 8:57
  • In practice, that's equivalent to saying that the subject as a whole is on topic. It's what's happened with career advice on Stack Overflow. Theoretically, yes, you're right, but practically it means that only the most absurdly off-topic questions will get closed. And I'm fine with that, if that's what the community thinks, but I don't believe that this is something we should just leave up in the air. – Aaronut Jul 18 '10 at 18:12
  • @Aaronaught: You still have subjective and 'gimme da recipe' questions to close within the subject. And I think that that's enough. Another problem is quorum. This question, very popular has had an overwhelming 12 views... so achieving consensus is a non sequitur at least this early in the game. – Vinko Vrsalovic Jul 18 '10 at 19:43

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