We have used two of our three slots for reasons for closing questions as off topic.

We hadn't thought of any special reason back when the list was made for the first time, but I have the feeling that recently, I have been closing quite a few culinary-uses questions.

It seems to be that this can be a very good candidate for the third slot:

  • It is needed relatively frequently.
  • It is quite surprising for new users that we have such a policy. Not only for people completely new to the network; users with a decent amount of reputation on other sites seem to not notice that this is, essentially, a poll question. So, users who have spent enough time around to cast a flag will see the reason on the list and learn of it before they have made the mistake of asking such a question themselves, which brings them through the unpleasant experience of having a question closed.
  • We will still get such questions, especially by brand new users who have never cast a flag. In this case, having this as a "canned" text looks more official to them and less like a tyrant's whim. We seldom have questions closed by five users, typically it is done by a moderator, so it can look quite one-sided, especially when the reason sounds so strange to the OP that he doesn't believe it can be a rule.

I wrote a suggestion for the new text; if you agree with it, upvote. Any suggested edits to it are very welcome!

If anybody has arguments against creating the new reason, please leave an answer too.

  • 1
    I agree, especially to your point about it looking more official. In general, people tend not to take "official" things so personally.
    – Cindy
    Sep 27, 2014 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


Suggested text for the new off topic reason.

Questions of the form "What can I do with [ingredient]" are off-topic because they are subjective and lead to a long list of suggestions without a way to select the one that "works". This is not compatible with Stack Exchange principles. Exceptions are made for ingredients not normally considered food. For more information, see Can I ask about how to use a specific ingredient? (AKA: Culinary Uses Guidelines)

Improvement suggestions welcome!


The new most current version, incorporating your suggestions:

Questions of the form "What can I do with [ingredient]" are off-topic because they are subjective and lead to a long list of suggestions without a way to select the one that "works", and this is not compatible with the Stack Exchange format. More detail is available in Can I ask about how to use a specific ingredient? (AKA: Culinary Uses Guidelines). Exceptions are made for items which are not generally considered to have any culinary use.

  • I like it the way it is. I thought of adding something about answers not being based on opinion, but that brings more controversy to the table. Sometimes there is more than one way to do something so it circles back to opinion.
    – Cindy
    Sep 27, 2014 at 18:33
  • I don't know if the "This is not compatible with Stack Exchange principles" is necessary; it seems implied by the closure itself, and the longer the close reason is, the more likely people are to tl;dr and not read it in its entirety. I also think our primary goal is to direct people to the link (isn't it?) so I might move that to just after the first sentence, with the "exceptions" sentence coming last.
    – Aaronut
    Sep 27, 2014 at 19:34
  • I don't like "not normally considered food". How about "Exceptions can be made for extraordinarily unique ingredients", or "Exceptions can be made for unique ingredients, especially those not generally thought of as having a culinary use.
    – Jolenealaska Mod
    Sep 28, 2014 at 3:14
  • I prefer "... with Stack Exchange's Q&A format." rather than using the word principles. Principles kind of implies some sort of value judgement instead of just a "shortcoming" of the platform. Edit: overall I like it and it seems silly to have an empty slot. Fill her up!
    – Preston
    Sep 28, 2014 at 4:04
  • The update works for me.
    – Jolenealaska Mod
    Sep 28, 2014 at 10:40
  • I like the update but I do think the sentence about Stack Exchange principles should be left in, but perhaps changed to use Preston's idea. E.g.' "This is not compatible with the Stack Exchange Q & A format." While I do somewhat agree with Aaronut's comment, I think it would be implied to someone familiar with SE. However, for a new or first-time user it may not be. One of our goals is to encourage new users to learn the format and become a regular contributor rather than to get frustrated on an early attempt and walk away. I think that sentence is very important in that regard.
    – Cindy
    Sep 28, 2014 at 16:53
  • Also, it makes it clear up front that this is policy and nothing else, e.g. the moderator must be having a bad day, these people are jerks, etc., which is also part of the idea of having the "canned" text. It could even be the first sentence. Anyway, just my thoughts. :)
    – Cindy
    Sep 28, 2014 at 17:02
  • Sorry for taking a while to get to this (I'm on vacation). I think this looks fine for addressing culinary uses questions. The only concern I have is whether it leaves a weird gray area - things like "what should I make for dinner?" or "what's a side that goes with chili" that aren't recipe requests or what to make with X questions. I wonder if we could manage something more generic, along the lines of menu planning/dish ideas.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Sep 29, 2014 at 16:53
  • @Jefromi: We just close those as too broad or primarily opinion based. They don't need special reasons - they're simply polls, and there are no special cases in which they're allowed that we need to disambiguate.
    – Aaronut
    Oct 1, 2014 at 6:25
  • The updated version looks good to me.
    – Aaronut
    Oct 1, 2014 at 6:28
  • @Aaronut "What can I make with X?" is also broad or opinion based, and I don't think we're creating this close reason to demonstrate that a few of them are on topic, but rather to make it easy to close the ones that are off topic. But not a big deal either way.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Oct 1, 2014 at 12:19
  • @Jefromi then we maybe can reword it to say that questions about ideas what to cook - by ingredient, occasion, or any other criteria - are off topic? I don't know how necessary this would be, we get a "what to cook with [ingredient]" every now and then, but I don't remember having seen a "what should I have for dinner" question.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Oct 1, 2014 at 12:21
  • @Jefromi: The extra close reasons are for dealing with very common types of questions that seem like they should be on topic, but aren't. They're not meant to cover the entire spectrum of disallowed topics, which is why we still have both an "other" off-topic reason and the usual other close reasons. "What should I have for dinner?" is just obviously, unambiguously off-limits - it doesn't need the clarification provided by a custom close reason.
    – Aaronut
    Oct 3, 2014 at 5:58
  • I like the most current version. It gets my vote.
    – Cindy
    Oct 3, 2014 at 17:01
  • Thank you to everybody who contributed. We created the new closing reason with the latest text version. Marking as accepted, and status-completed.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Oct 4, 2014 at 19:51

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