EDIT: There is an FAQ question based on the results of this discussion.

I just came across the Chocolate Peppers question and have been trying to figure out what to make of it.

I can see how this could be a good wiki question. Sort of a reference for the different preparation methods for this ingredient and how they affect the flavour and other characteristics of this food. Roasting it will do X to the flavour, sautéing it will do Y, caramelizing will do Z. Great.

But the OP actually submitted his own answer and it's just a recipe without any serious analysis of any of the steps. To me, the question looks more like a recipe request than a question about understanding a particular food or ingredient.

To be clear, I wouldn't have batted an eye if the OP had put the recipe itself into a question with the tagline "help me improve this recipe" and including some of the specific comments that he already wrote ("Is this the right method for battering?"). But that's not we have. We have a question that seems to very strongly imply that answers should be in the form of recipes.

I believe we need to tread carefully here, as these types of questions have the potential to be great wikis but can also be used as loopholes for recipe postings. If the author had a great recipe that he wanted to share and receive feedback on, I think that the "recipe tweaking" format would be more appropriate.

What do you think? Should this question be closed? Edited? Left alone? Should we point the OP to this meta question to discuss the subtleties?

  • thanks guys; i edited this and cleaned it up. i was looking for ways to make the pepper no longer taste like your garden variety thick skinned pepper, and instead taste the way it should. the reason i included a recipe as an answer was to shoot for people maybe poking holes in the techniques. case in point; my rellenos turned out well, however when i tried to incorporate them into a stir fry of sorts the peppers were these bitter chunks. it had to be my tech/prep of them that was wrong and i was trying to sort it out.
    – mfg
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 15:00
  • Hi @mfg, thanks for coming to clear this up. I definitely like the revised question better; I also thought it could use a little editing to make it even clearer, so I hope you don't mind (and it'll give you a little bump). I hope you get some good answers!
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 20:28

3 Answers 3


There was a question about Green Onions today which seems to be an extreme example of this type of question. It was a blatant recipe request at first and in the spirit of trying not to discourage people I tried to massage it into a real, useful, question. the OP seemed to be wanting to use green onions as the main flavour, and after reading this thread I tried to adjust the question accordingly but my feeling is that this is just too general to be useful.

Aaronut pointed out that what next 'Uses for garlic?' or 'Uses for salt?', and I think he's right.

Coupled with the fact that the given answers at this point don't seem to be things which 'showcase' the flavour of spring onions (I might be wrong, I've not tried them) I'm not sure how useful this is.

How do we draw the line though between this and other 'Uses of X' questions. Or have we, by allowing some of them, started on the slippery slope and made a rod for our own backs with these recipe requests in disguise?

Should the difference be that if the answer can be a family of recipes or a use then its ok, but if the answers are just recipes then its not?

Amongst others there are questions about lavender, stale bread, cornstarch, hops, apple peel and most of the answers seem to be about uses (or flavour pairings in the case of lavender), and not actual recipes. So answers like

  • stale bread can used for bread pudding
  • stale bread can be used for bruscetta
  • cornstarch can be used to make a batter
  • hops can be used to flavour cakes
  • apple peel (and cores) can be used to make apple glaze

seem valid to me, as they are not asking for a bread pudding/bruschetta/batter/cake/apple glaze recipe.

So for green onions I could see answers like salads, garnishes (or common uses like as a base for a lot of Chinese food) etc (I'm struggling a bit) but I think not just a list of recipes, as there could just be a never ending list.

  • When I responded to the question you linked to, I was trying to come up with items where green onions make a significant difference, and I didn't want recipes. However, as I think about it, garlic and salt both make big differences in lots of items (imagine bread without salt!). Seems like one difference is how common an item is. Nobody who cooks regularly is going to have to ask when to use salt, but rarer ingredients might be more difficult.
    – justkt
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 16:14
  • @juskt, I think your answer was much better than the other answer and the sort of thing that could be useful (might want to undelete) as it did give things where they can be useful, but not just recipes. My comment above might have been too harsh, and I was really referring to the 'salsa' reecipe
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 16:49
  • @Sam - I'm debating casting a close vote, and I wouldn't want to both have answered and voted to close, ya know?
    – justkt
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 17:01
  • These are good points, Sam, and I think it really is a slippery slope (hobodave and I have thought so for a while). No matter what criteria you use (i.e. how common is the ingredient?), it's going to be a highly subjective and probably hotly debated judgment call. I'm loath to bring the mod hammer down on it, though; I think the larger community needs to start stepping in and treating these questions case-by-case, basically saying in some cases "hey look, yes these kinds of questions are allowed but you're really stretching it here." It'll at least seem less arbitrary tha inconsistent modding.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 18:59
  • My (subjective) take on this is that culinary uses questions should be restricted to three basic areas: (a) things you'd normally throw out (stale bread and apple peel are great examples); (b) things that aren't normally associated with cooking or appear to have very few uses (hops are a good example, we've also had a few about flowers); and (c) ingredients that are extremely rare - basically something you'd have to buy outside a supermarket.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 19:03
  • By the way @justkt, a lot of people do answer and vote to close at the same time. It depends on your perspective but I don't see it as being so strange; you can want to help the OP at the same time as not wanting his/her questions to remain on the front page. It's up to you of course; you probably would take some flak for playing both sides, but not from any of us.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 19:07
  • @Aaronut, I agree with those guidelines for things which the questions are appropriate, they seem sensible and not too argumentative. I also agree that the community needs to get involved with closing votes etc, as I also don't really like voting to close when I'm the only voter.
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 20:02
  • @Aaronut so should I close as Off Topic? Or subjective and argumentative (which has a vote)?
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 20:05
  • As skeptical as I am of the question, I'm loath to close it single-handedly because it is considered to be an acceptable form of question and until now there haven't been any guidelines or conditions on that category. I would wait for more community close votes - even though I suspect they'll never arrive - because otherwise it appears that we're just randomly changing the rules. That said, you've been mod here longer than I have and are entitled to your own opinion - my only suggest is don't close as S&A; if you do decide to close, either use OT (recipe swap) or NARQ (open poll).
    – Aaronut
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 20:31

I think there is a hard balance to strike here. I don't know if it's a good idea to just ban or allow all of them. Instead, I think this boils down to evaluating each question along these lines and trying to figure out the OP's intentions.

In this case, I think the OP had no rule-breaking intentions. Nevertheless, their question is basically asking for recipe ideas.

  • This is how I see it. I never question intent - quite possibly the author really didn't intend for the question to be about recipes - but the question is phrased in such a way that it appears to be simply asking for recipes. I would simply edit, but I'm not sure what edit would "tighten up" the question without invalidating the author's answer.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 18:47

From the OP: "I have made one recipe for them below but am looking for tips on additional uses for them; particularly in how to make them more expressive of their flavor (ie is it particularly important to roast them before use, etc)."

I think questions about how to bring out the flavor of an ingredient are more or less the essence of cooking. The poster didn't answer his question very well, but we shouldn't fault the question for that--just don't vote it up. In other words, if I had answered the question like that, this probably wouldn't be on meta, it'd just be an off-topic answer.

Also, we discussed that answering with recipes was much more in line with the site's scope than asking for them.

At most, we should ask the poster to qualify what he's really after, and direct him accordingly. Lastly, it might be less confusing if the poster just put his 'recipe' in the question, so that it doesn't confuse other users.

I for one had never heard of chocolate peppers, so I think this is generally a neat and useful question for the site.

  • If the question had simply been worded as "How do I bring out the [flavour/heat/whatever] of chocolate peppers?" then I wouldn't have asked the question. The problem is one of ambiguity; this question (and many like it) seem to be asking at a very general floaty level, "What can I do with these?" And that can either be interpreted as a question on preparation or a recipe request; any recipe is technically a valid answer and therein lies the problem, there's no way to objectively judge them.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 16:16
  • 1
    It's true that the fact that the OP's own answer has coloured my interpretation of the question, but even so, that means it's likely to colour many other people's interpretations of the question in the same way. If a bunch of people view it as a recipe request, then (a) that's how they'll answer, and (b) they'll be led to believe that the entire class of questions is OK. Sure, recipes as answers are OK when the question is about creating or imitating a recipe, but un-annotated recipes as answers to a very general question are highly suspect.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 16:20
  • (im OP) i think you're right @aaronut; by just dropping in the rellenos recipe it does look like a call for recipes, whereas i intended for it to be a here's one that works because rellenos are a quintessential prep/cooking method, but im having trouble prep'ing the pepper outside of that.
    – mfg
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 15:35

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