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On the drive home yesterday I listened to a podcast where Jeff Atwood described the then incipient Area 51 and what Q&A sites are all about. That explained a lot I had not understood about the Cooking.SE site. I did not come to Cooking.SE from StackOverflow so I was not familiar with the culture: how to contribute, when to edit, etc. Culture is best learned by living it, but sometimes having it codified helps. I understand that to many of you this is obvious and natural, but to outsiders this "expected behavior" can be a mystery.

Has anyone written up the spirit of the Q&A sites anywhere in the StackOverflow kingdom?

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    Good question. I find myself often wanting some sort of guide to this place. Like you, this is the first SE site I've used, although I was familiar with the concept as I've been following Joel for years. – yossarian Oct 13 '10 at 14:36
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The Stack Overflow Blog has a lot of the information you are looking for, but as it is in blog form you rather have to dig through to find it.

  1. The elevator pitch behind Stack Overflow
  2. The question lifecycle
  3. Asking Better Questions, which links to the How to Ask page for SO, which is generally applicable.
  4. Boundaries for "fun" questions
  5. The role of moderators
  6. Why posts can be deleted
  7. Why users can accept their own answers

I could continue on with the list, but the general point is that many design decisions behind SO are documented on the blog.

If others want, you can edit this to add posts you consider useful and we could make a reference list here. I'm marking my answer CW.

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Glad you enjoyed the podcast!

It is our hope too that the privilege wikis are doing a reasonable job of capturing this stuff -- and they are auto-linked for each user as they pass the reputation boundaries :

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/10/membership-has-its-privileges/

The root of the cooking privilege wiki is here

https://cooking.stackexchange.com/privileges

Click around on the sidebar to navigate and see what you think.

I spent many hours on those wikis making them as good as I possibly could; improvement suggestions are welcome.

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