I just want to put it out there - even though I'm firmly in the camp of recipe-swapping being off-topic, that doesn't mean we immediately need to close every question with the word recipe.

The question is here:

I’m trying to find a recipe for vanilla cream for pie filling.

Unfortunately, the author of the question deleted it in good faith, so only a few of us will be able to see it. For the others, here is the content of the question:

My great aunt used to make a wonderful cream pie with graham cracker crumb crust and meringue topping.

I'd love to find the recipe for the cream part. I remember she used milk, eggs, cornstarch, and vanilla. It was cooked on the stove top. Does anybody have the recipe (how much milk, how many eggs, etc.? I'm not even sure if it would be called a cream and I don't even know the name of the pie because it we always called it "Aunt Laura's pie".


Now maybe I haven't thought this through, but I'm pretty sure that this the kind of recipe question we aren't trying to prevent from cluttering up the site. Despite what the title implies, the question is not an open call for recipes. In fact, he's essentially got the recipe already, and seems to just be trying to figure out how to put the ingredients together.

Basically, the question is, "I have ingredients A, B, and C. How do I use them to make X?" This seems very reasonable to me; it's going to have at most two or three valid answers and is targeted at an expert (or, well, at least semi-expert) audience. This isn't a question that just anybody can answer unless they're willing to spend two hours trawling Google. The question is also clear and well-written and very difficult to mistake for a poll.

I think he really just chose a poor title, and that sparked a knee-jerk reaction from some of our members. I don't entirely blame them; we've had a major uptick in off-topic and discussion questions over the past couple of days, and when we get tired, we make mistakes. But we should try to correct them.

Did we do the wrong thing here? (By "we" I mean the community - I personally did not comment or vote to close.)

Or do I have tunnel vision here? Am I being too inconsistent in my interpretation of the recipe-swapping line?

  • If I may comment, as the poster of the original question, I agree that the title was not worded well. Easy to see how it might have been taken for a general recipe call. I didn't take offense; I just deleted it. Still, the clarification offered above is greatly appreciated as is the response below. It's a bit embarrassing to read that more than one person voted to close. Still, the question hasn't beaten my silliness record so I figure I'm ahead of the game. I'll be more careful with my wording in future posts. Thanks and have a good evening/night. (Not that it matters, but I'm a she.)
    – apaderno
    Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 5:07
  • 1
    @Cinque: Glad to see you visited us on meta and that you didn't take offense to the original response - many if not most people are less accepting of criticism, even when it's deserved (which in your case it wasn't). We're still defining the boundaries of the site, and unfortunately there have been an inordinate number of way-off-topic and GTKY questions, and as a result, a few people might be getting a little trigger-happy. I hope you don't mind your question being used as an example of how we still need to use our heads and make sure we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Thanks!
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 14:14
  • @Cinque: I was one of those votes. After reading this meta I have changed my mind.
    – hobodave
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 23:39
  • @hobodave: No harm done - no offense taken. Thanks for the comment.
    – apaderno
    Commented Jul 23, 2010 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


I would have left it, myself. In the end, we're here to be helpful. The author had a pretty specific, detailed request where they did most of the work themselves. They just needed someone with experience to fill in the blanks. The question would have likely resulted in a direct answer.

In contrast, someone who comes in ith "I need a recipe for cheesecake" isn't going to get a specific answer. They're going to get an indiscriminate list of random recipes. That's the difference between a culinary discussion and what I've been calling a "shout out" recipe request.

  • 2
    I think we should integrate some of this answer into the faq.
    – NickAldwin
    Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 13:57
  • @Nick: We actually don't have any scope info in the FAQ yet; it's still being discussed and voted on here. Questions like these should be immensely helpful in clearing up - both in people's minds and on "paper" - what a particular subject like "recipe swapping" really means (and what it doesn't mean). I'm hoping that after a few rounds of this, people will understand that the proposed "ban" on recipe swapping refers to a very specific type of question and accept that it won't cause much collateral damage.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 14:17
  • Even though this is an old post, we still see this type of conflict occasionally. I agree with @Aaronut's view and Robert's answer. I think that when we can see a clear boundary and determine that a question is not off topic, it's our responsibility to edit (in this case) the title, or where appropriate the body of the question.
    – Cindy
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 11:04

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