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The majority of the site seems to be dominated by 'how to cook' questions. I don't think this is a bad thing, but should the site also cover other food realted questions such as food history, eating out (what does it mean when it says xxx on a menu), ethnic food etc. I know I would be happier with a more diverse site that occiasionally surprised and delighted me with unusual information about food history etc. but maybe there is a preference for a tightly controlled site specifically for 'how to cook' type questions.

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I disagree, for the following reasons:

  • It splinters the target demographic. There are several non-cooking subjects that intersect with cooking, such as presentation and wine pairing (which I've grouped under the serving heading and many people seem to agree "belong" here). But subjects like food history and eating out are "foodie" subjects that I don't think speak to the same audience, or even an expert audience at all. If you disagree, please provide a counterexample.

  • The topics are way, way off from the original definition. While I see nothing wrong with debating the merits of issues which were sort of left hanging in the definition phase, topics like how to read a restaurant menu were not what we signed up for. I know I don't speak for everyone here - believe me, that's been made abundantly clear - but to me, allowing such topics is a slap in the face for all of us who poured our efforts into getting the site off the ground.

  • Diversity is not the goal of Stack Exchange sites. There are always users who want a wider scope, but our goal is community-building which means often doing exactly the opposite of what certain individuals ask. The wider (i.e. more "diverse") the scope, the harder it is to build a community around it.

  • An analogy: Let's say you've managed to put together a group of people to play soccer. What do you think will happen if you turn around and tell these people that, actually, every other week we'd rather just watch soccer on TV? I'm sure you'll get a few people who enjoy both activities and a few more who are willing to make the occasional sacrifice, but most of the group is going to go "WTF" and quite literally take their balls and go home.

This site is about making food and some of the topics surrounding it (equipment, safety, storage, etc.). It's not about eating food or exchanging food trivia. If you want a Stack Exchange site about those things, you should start your own proposal on Area 51.

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    "take their balls and go home" *snicker* – hobodave Jul 22 '10 at 6:17
  • +1: I agree with both you and nohat. I think it's going to end up being a judgement call. Perhaps we could better find a way to define some examples? – hobodave Jul 22 '10 at 6:23
  • @hobodave: I suspect it's going to be difficult to conjure up contrived examples. We'll just have to see what the community comes up with and react accordingly. Kind of the same thing that's happened with recipe questions; we can try to define a standard up front, but some people aren't going to get it, and other people will take it too far. It seems the only really useful examples are real questions. – Aaronut Jul 22 '10 at 14:02
  • Aren't chefs foodies? Or shouldn't they be? – Ocaasi Jul 29 '10 at 18:24
  • @Ocaasi: Perhaps many chefs are foodies, but most foodies aren't chefs. In order for a subject to be in scope, it should be uniquely relevant to chefs, not simply relevant. In essence, the question is, will a chef (or other "kitchen professional/enthusiast") have specialized knowledge about the topic that other people won't have? In this case I would have to say no. Some exceptions will apply, of course, but they tend to be quite obvious when they come up. – Aaronut Jul 29 '10 at 18:54
  • @Aar but where will the foodies go? I think the focus being away from that edge is for the best because it is an erring on the side of safety; as in foodies will not have authoritative answers, whereas cooks will. – mfg Aug 20 '10 at 18:15
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I think these topics should be welcome—the site title does say "Food and Cooking". If only cooking-related questions are allowed, why even have the word "food" in the title?

Moreover, since the core target audience is professional chefs, questions about the history of food and menu wording are just as relevant—if not more so—to them as it would be to amateur food enthusiasts. Professional chefs need to be experts not just in preparing food, but in knowing about the history of their dishes and how to describe them on menus. Inventive new restaurant dishes are often created by taking a classic dish and reinterpreting it in an innovative way while still respecting something essential about it origins. I easily imagine chefs' finding information about food origins on this site being a compelling feature that brings them back.

After a few minutes' reflection, I think a good yardstick should be that if the topic would be on the curriculum of a cooking school or culinary institute, it should be fair game for this site.

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    You make some very good points, actually. The last paragraph is key; there are some cultural and historical aspects of food that do help people to be better cooks. As long as they're not trivia (did Ćevapi originate in Bosnia or Serbia? Who cares?) then they may be worth having. "Eating out" probably doesn't meet the bar here; I think this mainly applies to history/culture. – Aaronut Jul 21 '10 at 16:58
  • +1: I see valid points in this as well as Aaronaught's answer. I think the yardstick idea is a good one. The OP's "eating out" example could actually be on topic because "what does it mean when it says xxx on a menu" is another way of saying "what is a bolognese sauce"? Yet, "what's a good restaurant?" or "have you eaten at xxx?" are off-topic. – hobodave Jul 22 '10 at 6:22

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