So it should come as no surprise to anyone that this site is struggling.
In the few days this site has been in private beta, we've been trying to:
- Figure out if there's anything that isn't on-topic.
- Figure out who the experts are.
- Figure out if devices count as lifehacks.
- Figure out what a lifehack even is.
- Figure out how to eliminate contrived questions.
- Figure out if the overlap with other sites is too large.
- Fix our answer quality.
- Fix our question quality.
- Figure out what is on-topic.
- Figure out how to review and close questions.
- Fix our question and answer quality.
- Figure out how to improve answer quality.
- Find our target culture.
- Figure out how to define what is on-topic based on questions and not answers.
- Figure out of people asking questions are happy with the answers they're getting.
- Figure out if tools are considered lifehacks.
- Figure out if we want to allow tips.
- Figure out why a question was closed.
- Figure out why questions are treated differently.
- Stop a close war.
- Figure out if we can have questions that are too specialized.
- Figure out if our scope needs to be narrowed.
But it hasn't all been fruitless, we have been able to decide that:
- Product recommendations are off-topic.
- What our chatroom name should be.
- There is no psychological aspect to lifehacks.
- Even questions that seem like they're asking for common sense might provoke lifehack answers.
- Questions may seem unanswerable, but that's not always a bad thing.
- We would rather use the site to help people.
- We don't need people to do a whole lot of research before asking a question, be we need them to make some sort of effort.
- We shouldn't be downvoting answers we think are conventional.
But that hasn't been enough to make the site work, as we've seen with the recent post: Saving "Lifehacks" — Can we make this a topic space instead of a vague buzzword?
We've seen what the site looks like without a clearly defined scope, It's time we see what it looks like with one. After much deliberation, here is the scope that will define Lifehacks.SE:
A lifehack is a technique that can be implemented quickly and is used to make one's physical life more efficient when a more standard approach (as defined by that area's experts) or a product is either unavailable or undesirable. Lifehacks are creative, meaning they use materials that are on hand for uses besides their intended use.
This still gives us a wide variety of questions that can be asked on the site. If you have a problem where there's a product or a solution that might work but simply isn't feasible in your situation (i.e. why buy something to use one time?), then you can ask here how to work around solving the problem without that conventional product or method.
This is not an entirely new scope though, everything we've already agreed upon still applies. Product recommendations are still off-topic, and all questions are required to be about physical problems. This means that psychological questions will still be off-topic, but also includes questions in other areas such as mathematics and programming as being off-topic.
While there might be some psychological questions that could be interesting to have on the site, the majority are too open for opinionated discussions that they can't be supported by our format (i.e. "How can I stay focused/awake/concentrated"). Since we can't pick and choose which questions to keep, it needs to be that the entire subject is off-topic.
One thing that is needed for this scope to work that hadn't been discussed on Meta before is the necessity of the "what have you tried" section. Because a lifehack is an alternative solution to a problem, it is necessary for us to know exactly what solution the person asking the question has tried and/or the reason(s) why they aren't satisfied with the use of that method, in order to solve the problem.
If the question is not looking for an alternative to a product or solution that they have tried, then that question is off-topic on this site. Because a lifehack is an alternative to a solution or product that is unavailable or undesirable, we need to know what product or solution they are trying to work around. Unfortunately, this will probably leave some questions without a site to be asked on, but we simply can not take every question if we expect to have any sort of quality control.
Following the standards of Stack Exchange, questions that prompt for simple answers of yes or no are off-topic. You can see the discussion on Stack Exchange Meta for the full reasoning, but the most important reason is that:
If the answer to your question is "yes" then there was never a problem and thus never a real question in there anywhere.
Included with this are questions asking for verification about whether lifehacks will work or not. But even more so that lifehacks are meant to be applied to very specific situations, and whether or not they're successful is specific to that situation and it is up to each person to decide if a lifehack is applicable to their situation.
Finally, medical questions are off-topic. Ignoring how people feel about alternative medicines, even doctors who study medicine for years still have to apply some levels of trial and error to get the correct dosage of ingredients for their prescriptions. It is extremely unlikely that we will be able to get all the information needed to be able to provide accurate medical advice over the internet. There is a reason doctors weigh people rather than simply asking them their weight, accuracy matters. Unfortunately, in order to gather information needed to accurately diagnose medical questions, it would require a more discussion-based format that we can't support. Revised: See How medical is too medical?
Remember it is up to everyone to work together to make this site work. If we're going to pull this site back together we need to work as a team and not individuals. If we apply these rules consistently to each question, we should be able to create a site where it's clear to new users what this site is truly about.
If you have any questions or concerns about this new scope, please voice them so that we may make changes as quickly as possible.