I asked this question.


hobodave called it a 'getting to know you' question and suggests that cooking.stackexchange isn't a forum.

He seems to think that I'm new to StackExchange. I love SE, try to use MO, rely on SO, and have done lots to promote my favorite Area51 project, including hours of email writing.

Frankly, I have very little respect for cooking.stackexchange.com, even though I love SE itself, after getting a response like that.

Somebody please tell me, if the users of this site aren't willing to consider flavors themselves, as my question asked them to do, what is the use of this site?

As far as I can tell, from questions like the one linked to below, cooking SE is quite useless as a method of sharing knowledge, rather than sharing information people can find with google or wikipedia.

White pepper vs. black pepper

The top-rated answer to that question is simply a wikipedia link.

All that said, I'd like my question reopened. I think it was unfairly closed. I asked people to consider the flavor of green tea and find new flavors that would go with it. That is a community wiki-style big list question, I am aware. However, it's not something you can find on wikipedia.

  • 6
    First of all, it appears that you've been an SE/SO member for less than 1 month. That's pretty new. I mean no offense, I'm just stating a fact; that's simply not enough time for anyone to really learn the ins and outs unless they spend hours each day. Second, answer me this simple question, honestly: Was your question actually about cooking?
    – Aaronut
    Aug 27, 2010 at 15:05
  • Hm... I guess cooking is only when you light a fire on a stove...?
    – ixtmixilix
    Aug 27, 2010 at 18:08
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    @ix no one said as a SO/SE user you HAVE to be a member of cooking or any other stack, I do not understand the negative attitude.
    – Chris
    Aug 31, 2010 at 14:39
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    -1 Sorry, but I really disagree with your general feeling off this site
    – Ivo Flipse
    Sep 1, 2010 at 18:07

4 Answers 4


While we all have different tastes, there are certain flavor combinations that work way better than others. Elizabeth Rozin has written a cookbook based on the idea of finding the basic flavor combinations of different cuisines. Sites cuuks and foodpairing are dedicated to the topic.

Good, novel, tasty combinations of flavors are hard to come by and there is a lot of knowledge in them, but the current structure of cooking.stackexchange makes it hard to capture that knowledge. A workaround is a community wiki page where the answers are listed and readers are asked to vote so that answers end up in order of community preference. From the number of votes these questions garner, I feel readers fail to see them as polls.

I'm sure you see why there is an attempt to remove subjectivity from the site. It is an attempt to stop the wars that often erupt in groups or the Wikipedia. There may be mechanisms that allow subjectivity to be captured, but stack exchange is not yet structured well for that.

On your question, I tried the cuuks site and the first suggestion was mangosteen, a fruit from the Indonesian islands gaining popularity in the West. You may try the site and then use the suggestions to hunt for recipes.

  • I read that as langosteen, which didn't sound good at all. Glad I misread that.
    – yossarian
    Aug 27, 2010 at 17:49
  • Thanks, papin. I'll have to check out that book.
    – ixtmixilix
    Aug 27, 2010 at 18:14
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    See also The Flavor Bible by Dornenburg and Page. (amzn.to/aHBcze) Aug 31, 2010 at 2:43

I don't agree that the question was unfairly closed.

A question about how to flavour tea is basically equivalent to a question asking people what their favourite salad dressings are. Take your pick; it's either a recipe request (off-topic) or a GTKY poll (there are clearly no right or wrong answers and certainly no expert answers).

Community Wiki mode for lists is okay - as long as there's some objective criteria with which to evaluate the answers. I could add "ketchup" as an answer to your question, and although many if not most people would probably find that disgusting, there's no way to objectively prove that it's wrong. In other words, people would be voting simply based on subjective agreement or disagreement, and that undermines the entire voting system. In order for an SE site to remain healthy, people need to vote based on the correctness of answers.

I am sorry that you feel that this site is not helping you. But at the same time, you've asked one question, and it wasn't about cooking. You've also cast 0 votes. I hate pointing fingers, but common courtesy dictates that one should try to contribute something of one's own before passing judgment on the rest of the community. Help us help you; if you're a cook (or something similar), then participate in the normal Q&A and voting process on cooking and we might be more tolerant of the occasional slightly-off-topic question (but only a little more tolerant, and only very slightly off-topic).

  • 1
    It's not a question about how to flavor tea. It's a question about thinking of flavors abstractly. In that sense, a good combination of flavors is like a good algorithm. It's bound to be written down/used somewhere.
    – ixtmixilix
    Aug 27, 2010 at 18:10
  • The cuuks site is designed to let people create and vote on flavor combinations. It's a little odd at first, but the only environment I know for what you are suggesting. Also, take @Aaronut 's example to an extreme and you can see how the site would lose much of its appeal.
    – papin
    Aug 27, 2010 at 19:08
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    @ixt: No, you haven't asked for approaches or methodologies to flavouring tea, you're asking for a list of things you can flavour it with. Sorry, but that's not an "algorithm", and analogies to programming are going to become increasingly less relevant here over time anyway.
    – Aaronut
    Aug 27, 2010 at 22:32

First, I didn't make any judgements or assumptions about your experience when closing your question. In fact, the simple observation that you started with 101 reputation at the site indicates that you had an account on at least one other Stack site.

The purpose of this site, as with nearly every Stack site, is to be a place where users can ask questions to elicit objective expert answers. Your question simply doesn't meet that criteria.

Questions formatted as "What is the best ...", "What is your favorite..." are clear indicators that you're asking a question that is too subjective, and likely not appropriate for the site. You can't even ask a question in this format without being warned by the software itself.

Regarding questions that are easy to google? See:

Are questions that are easily answered with Google appropriate for the site?

  • 1
    There are plenty of 'What is the best' and 'What is your favorite' questions on Mathoverflow. And actually, on that site, you'd get closed immediately for asking something as basic as what the difference between black and white pepper was. There's a huge difference between knowledge, experience, and information. I do indeed cook a lot but would rather share ideas about combinations of flavors (which can be applied to more than one dish) than recipe requests (which can also be found on google).
    – ixtmixilix
    Aug 27, 2010 at 18:14
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    @ixt: We are not SO, MO, or any other site. Each community is free to define their own rules.
    – hobodave
    Aug 27, 2010 at 18:40
  • "The purpose of this site, as with nearly every Stack site, is to be a place where users can ask questions to elicit objective expert answers" - so we should rename this site boring-cooking-question-only-for-experts.stackexchange.com
    – Wizard79
    Aug 29, 2010 at 10:58
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    @Lorenzo Expert is highly subjective. In the case of SE, IIRC, expert is defined as a person who has an answer to that question. Sep 1, 2010 at 14:35

During my early use of this site, I had a couple of close votes on a question I asked. I found myself getting a bit offended, but I fixed the question in a way that fit with the definition of the site and it was left open. In the process I realized that the site's moderators really do know what they are doing and my initial question wouldn't have added much value to the site.

Since then I've asked several questions that have saved dishes I've made (ex: salsa) and provided a lot of educational value for me. I've learned from other questions.

That said, I do find that sometimes things could perhaps be worded more gently in closing, etc. Sometimes they are worded very kindly and gently and seem to have great effect.

I'd stick around before declaring something worthless if you are truly interested. I'd also encourage the entire community to consider the kind of tone you'd prefer to be addressed in.

  • 1
    There are definitely better ways to phrase questions. It makes sense to me to push for questions are clear and that can be answered. I feel like the word "objective" is thrown around too much. An objective answer is less useful to me personally. I can find objective answers in the books in my living room. What I need is how real people cook. What do you do that works and even what do you like and why. This is very subjective. Aug 31, 2010 at 15:01

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