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I've been an outspoken proponent for trying new sites like this since you launched, but so far the actual execution hasn't being coming together too well. This site is built on a buzzword, but there's been little consensus about what "Lifehacks" actually means — and even a bigger disconnect between what's getting talked about on meta and what's happening in practice on the main site.

I think this site can be very successful. But if this community cannot define a clear purpose for having this site, it's going to be very difficult to launch it to the public. That means demonstrating a clear and consistent pattern of self- moderation to build a coherent community. We cannot create a situation where folks come here offering or looking for help just to get their contributions rejected for seemingly inconsistent and arcane reasons.

Let's fix that.

A quick side note — If you're not familiar with our Skeptics site, maybe you should have a look. They have a diverse subject like this one, but they manage to pull off a site where it's generally clear if a question or solution belongs there or not. We don't have anything like that here.

Next Steps

We've been a lot more open to trying sites that go outside our traditional Q&A model, but what we don't know is if we have the leadership and the inspired group of founding members who can pull this one off. Maybe we need someone to step up and lead the charge (or a small group of users) to figure this out and then rally the community — but however you do it, here are the kinds of things we're going to be looking for over the next week to see if we can open this site to the public:

Defining a Site (and making it stick)

Your purpose has to be straightforward.
The purpose of this site should be clear to new users. Saying "If it's not a lifehack, it's off topic" is too circular to mean anything useful. It has to be understood by users who are not privy to all your meta discussions.

Your scope has to be concise.
What this site is about should fit on a napkin, not read like a tome. When folks come here looking to post, it should be quickly discoverable if they are in the right place or not. And not by crawling through a gauntlet of meta posts (or figuring out which ones to follow), but by distilling it all down to concise a statement of purpose. What is this site about, and what isn't it about? Clear and simple; that's a pretty tall order.

It has to be consistently enforced.
Not all users are going to get it right the first time; we understand that. User's don't read and posts get closed. But that means demonstrating a clear and consistent pattern of self- moderation. When a potential new users misses the mark, you need to explain to them (and everyone looking on) patiently and thoughtfully how to either fix their post or why it doesn't belong. It's that statement of purpose above that I should see accompanying just about every post you close —

"Welcome to Lifehacks. This site is about {x}. Unfortunately, discussions about {a} and {b} are outside the scope of our site. [If you can edit your post to take care of that, please feel free to 'flag' to reopen]. Thanks."

If they don't come away thinking "Thanks, I get it now", you're doing it wrong.

Your site has to be approachable.
This site isn't only for the diehard users who read every meta issue. Folks coming here looking for help should have a reasonable expectation of knowing whether they are in the right place or not with a brief glance at your content. If every post has to be closed with reference to an obscure meta clause, this will become a very unwelcoming and insular place.

Don't gerrymander your scope.
I see this far too often. You cannot define a site by enumerating all the possible ways you can suck at Stack Exchange. Keep it clean and simple with a clearly delineated scope. If you find yourself constantly adding warnings, exclusions, exceptions, caveats, faqs, subsections, twists & turns, and asterisks every time an issue comes up… this site will not work.

…And Don't Forget About Execution

It's time to get everyone on the same page and figure out how this is going to work. Maybe start with some thoughtful statements describing the most common problems folks encounter, and start propagating them through the site.

Not a lifehack — This problem already has a well-known, conventional solution. A life hack refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency. In other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in an inspired, ingenious manner. Wikipedia

I just threw that together as an example.

Once everyone's on the same page, you'll have to start editing and closing old posts that don't meet this site's objectives. Not everything is a lifehack, and we cannot create a catch-all site about everything. The purpose of this site has to be definitive… and understandable.

But most of all keep it friendly and welcoming. I know that's a pretty tall order… but if you can pull it off, that's what's going to make this site something special in this space.

  • Shall we try putting together an answer like the one you linked for ourselves then? Or is this more of an warning/encouragement? – Zach Saucier Dec 12 '14 at 20:59
  • This deserves +10. Can it be added not only to the sidebar (I see the tag featured), but also to the help center? We need as many users as possible to see this. – Mooseman Dec 12 '14 at 21:07
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    @ZachSaucier That post avoids a lot of misunderstanding and meta arguments. I don't know if that will work for you, but that's what you have to work out. The trick is getting your "solutions" integrated into the psyche of the site in actual practice. The post itself is a bit longer than is probably ideal, but it's a pretty understandable missive that probably saved that site. – Robert Cartaino Dec 12 '14 at 21:07
  • @Mooseman As it's not actually answering the issues being raised, linking it in the help center wouldn't be of much use – Zach Saucier Dec 12 '14 at 21:09
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    @Mooseman Since it is featured it will show up in the sidebar pretty soon. Blame caching :) – hairboat Dec 12 '14 at 22:01
  • I think meta.lifehacks.stackexchange.com/q/1217/59 is what you're looking for. – Shokhet Dec 15 '14 at 15:21
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    @RobertCartaino Can you inform us what is required for us to update the site's help center and such? We're not exactly sure how that process works but we think it'd be useful to improve the quality of the site. – Zach Saucier Dec 15 '14 at 23:30
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I published a Meta post this morning summarizing everything that's been decided upon in Meta so far, and the discussion in chat that followed from this post. It should have a good building block for what the scope of this site is.

The post can be found here: The scope of Lifehacks

-3

I think it can be done, and even if we don't do this time it does not mean it will fail next time. There are several people with a vision, but everyone has slightly different visions. No one has been able to coin an acceptable criteria, though there have been a couple good attempts at How do we define what is on-topic without requiring the questioner to know the answer to their question?

But there are only a couple reasonable attempts to answer the scope question and neither has gained support, we need to either be more prolific with attempts at a global answer OR we need to make make bite sized attempts at whittling down the scope. Both the existing good answers say essentially the same thing, I think I will go make an attempt at fine tuning their proposal in a more concise wording. What ever success or failure my attempt has, don't hesitate to make your own attempt.

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    I'm curious to know why this answer has been downvoted. – hairboat Dec 16 '14 at 18:02
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    I've read it a few times now, and frankly, i'm still not detecting a useful point. It comes across as "yes we can; we just haven't been able to". – cHao Dec 28 '14 at 16:45

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