I recently asked a question about Neapolitan pizza ingredients: What toppings can be added when cooking a traditional Neapolitan pizza?.
I had a lengthy discussion with a mod in the comments, who was kind enough to take the time to explain the issue with the question. However, in the end, I still cannot see the reason the question was considered off-topic.
By looking at the website scope as defined in the Help Center, questions about “ingredient selection and use” are on-topic. In What type of questions should I avoid asking?, it is written that subjective questions that generate discussions instead of objective answers are not on-topic. On the other hand, a question should “invite sharing experiences over opinions” and “insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references”.
To gather more information, I found several questions which are similar to mine and were well-received by the community. These are the two most relevant examples:
- Does authentic Italian tiramisu contain large amounts of espresso?
- What are the authentic traditional ingredients for Naan bread?
Why I believe my question was on-topic
In my question, I was asking for which toppings I can add when cooking a Neapolitan pizza. I am asking for an answer based on facts and references (experience visiting pizzerias in Naples or answers based on menus of such pizzerias).
Initially, the moderator had an issue with my use of the “ingredient-selection” tag. They pointed out that I was using the tag incorrectly. I found a few examples of questions where the tag was used in a similar manner. The moderator then informed me that the tag was used incorrectly in the questions I found. I accepted this correction and decided to remove the tag from my question.
I then tried to explain that my question is regarding the correct way to cook a particular type of food, which is Neapolitan pizza. I also shared the similar questions I found about Naan bread and espresso ingredients.
The moderator pointed out that the Naan bread and espresso questions were asking for “authentic” ingredients, which is subjective. I agree with this, but it does not apply to my question since I am asking for evidence based on what ingredients are used in Naples.
The moderator then pointed out that the questions I found would have been closed by today’s standards. This is a fair point, but I would like to know in what year the scope was changed, so I can do better research on existing questions next time, or find similar questions to mine which were asked after the scope was changed. By that time, the moderator had (justifiably) had enough of the lengthy discussion so I did not press further asking for the year.
The moderator also made a point about how my question might be problematic because I am asking about optional instead of mandatory ingredients. I did not understand this point at all. I did not find any references in the Help Center about the scope being restricted to only basic recipes.
I found several very questionable questions which seem very subjective yet were well-received by the community. Many of them are more recent than the questions I had shared earlier. A few examples:
- Ingredient selection for Canadian Poutine dish Here, the asker is literally asking for “ideas” to make their dish more “palatable”. Somehow, this question was received well.
- Are potatoes ever used in Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes? This question is older, but I wanted to include it because it is very similar to mine (asking about what ingredients are used in a certain dish).
I am not saying that the 2 questions above are good questions. In my opinion, they aren’t, especially the first one. But, it is weird how these questions were upvoted and answered, while mine, which can be answered much more objectively, was closed.