From the beginning of the site we as a community have been trying to arrange a Scope that defines our site and makes it simple for our community to be run by that scope. So we came up with a Scope that defined us, but naturally we made changes and those changes went into Meta Post that were mostly tagged and so on. But I find it hard to discuss a Scope that is everywhere and is not exactly true any more due to numerous changes. That being said I would like to know if anyone agrees that we write up a new Scope using our old one as a guide and take the Meta Post tagged Scope and incorporate them into a Gigantic Master Scope. I think that by adding all the Meta Post into a larger Scope would help everyone understand where we are now. Does anyone agree or do they find the Scope to be organized?

Some users are suggesting that the community is split, but I think the problem might be as simple as users not knowing where certain pieces of the Scope are and thus not reading and understanding it. I came up with a beginner Master Scope to show what might be built if anything is decided. If anyone agrees with me, any ideas of how to change it would be welcome. I think that changes should be posted in answers and the answers that are mostly upvoted should be agreed changes.

This Post may be similar to Is the lack of a narrow scope problematic for this site?, but that was made in December, 12 and is thus slightly outdated.

  • The only problem I have with your post is that there are too many "warnings, exclusions, exceptions, caveats etc.." Can the definition of "Lifehack" be made any simpler?
    – Shokhet
    Jan 11, 2015 at 2:11
  • (the post I was referring to in my first comment was the pastebin, not this one)
    – Shokhet
    Jan 12, 2015 at 5:24
  • @Shokhet I think the word and definition of "Lifehack" don't belong in the scope definition at all. (See my answer for an alternative approach and explanation) Jan 13, 2015 at 12:40

3 Answers 3


The scope of the site is inconsistent, which is understandably confusing.

There's no agreement on what a lifehack is. There's a post that purports to set the scope in stone but, as you might expect form a proposal that was elaborated by a few users in chat, objections have been raised, and these objections have not been addressed.

In addition to the disagreements on meta, there's the scope as defined by the non-closed questions on the site, and that doesn't match any one position expressed on meta.

A decision needs to be made regarding the scope. I don't see the community getting anywhere near settling fundamental issues, which for a site that's existed for one month is worrying. Hopefully the site will acquire moderators soon, and the moderators will end up deciding what the site is about. It would be better to reach a near-consensus on fundamental issues, rather than have three people decide, but if the community can't reach a consensus, someone has to be given authority to decide.

Once a scope is established, it is vital to close all the questions that don't match the scope. Existing questions are how people will discover the site; if we attract new users with questions that are deemed to be off-topic, they'll be disappointed, which is bad for the growth of the site.

  • 2
    I agree with everything you said, except for the part about mods deciding the scope a last resort. Two reasons for this: 1) If we can't get a scope figured out, then we'll never reach the point of having mods. To be honest I'm surprised the site hasn't been shut down already, given we don't seem to making any progress (honestly, things seem to be getting worse, not better).
    – Wipqozn
    Jan 12, 2015 at 12:15
  • 1
    2) If we reached the point where we needed mods or the SE team to decide the scope for us, then the site has already failed to show it can work under the SE model, so it should be shut down. Since one of the key aspects of SE is that it's community driven, then having mods decide something as fundamental and basic as scope is pretty clear evidence we've failed on the community driven side of things.
    – Wipqozn
    Jan 12, 2015 at 12:16
  • 1
    @Wipqozn There's at least one precedent where a fundamental scope shift was imposed from above: Software Engineering. Given how much trouble that caused, it would ineed probably have been better to close the site and start another one, but that was a more extreme case than Lifehacks, going through several fundamental shifts and not just determining a subset of acceptable questions among a common basis. Jan 12, 2015 at 15:16
  • I completely disagree that no one knows what a lifehack is. After looking at the site, the questions, and answers, it becomes clear. We want good intelligent questions and answers, which presupposes people have enough sense to see what the site is about. Jan 16, 2015 at 16:25
  • @dmcdivitt Maybe you know what a lifehack is, but that's not useful unless other people agree with you. Going by the number of different opinions reflected on meta and on the site, we as a community do not know what a lifehack is. Jan 16, 2015 at 22:08
  • The way I see it, people don't have to know what a life hack is. The site will most likely be found pursuant to internet search for a problem. It isn't as if people know what a life hack is, already, then go where to find them. Once on the site, the description should say enough. What we might do is make the description as effective as possible. Following that, if people want to get involved here, good. Jan 16, 2015 at 22:16


Gilles is a relatively new user on LH (or else he just recently became much more active; I haven't been tracking him), and that might be part of why his answer to What is a lifehack? didn't get that much attention. I think his idea of site scope is well thought out, and intuitive to new users, so I'll copy it here.

[...] I propose to align with Wikipedia's definition. I am copying the current relevant part of the article here.

Life hacking refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life. It is arguably a modern appropriation of a gordian knot — in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in an inspired, ingenious manner.

For me, the key ideas are:

  • solves [a] problem: a lifehack must be about solving a concrete problem. It's a “how” question, not a “what” or “why” question.
  • an everyday problem: a lifehack concerns everyday life. Problems encountered as part of professional life, or requiring specialized knowledge, are not lifehacks.
  • increases productivity or efficiency: a lifehack is about solving the problem quickly and with few resources, not about finding the solution that produces a high-quality result.
  • trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty: a lifehack can involve taking shortcuts. It doesn't have to be robust or generalizable. It doesn't need to have been covered in peer-reviewed literature: something made up on the spot is fine as long as it works.
  • 1
    The reason I labelled this answer "Scope," was because I think that there might be multiple possible answers to this question, for scope, answer quality, question quality, etc....but this is the one on scope.
    – Shokhet
    Jan 11, 2015 at 3:35
  • 3
    This is a good definition of a Lifehack, but it's not a good scope for the site, because it only defines the answers. The only definition for the sites question scope is "everyday" problems, but that's a fairly useless description, as we've seen on the site so far. Everyone has a different idea of what an "Everyday problem" is, and it's why our scope has grown so out of control.
    – Wipqozn
    Jan 12, 2015 at 12:10
  • @Wipqozn Do you think I should better re-label this answer as "answers," in line with my comment, above?
    – Shokhet
    Jan 12, 2015 at 22:45

The scope is defined by the questions that are welcome. That leaves us with the definition of on-topic-question:

  1. You need to have a specific problem. You, not anyone else, not an idea you have that could be a problem. It needs to be specific and you need to state your very problem in your question. SE is best at solving actual problems, don't skip that part.
  2. It needs to be a physical problem. Something that you can grab with your hand.
  3. You need to seek solutions that can be applied simply, quickly and/or cheaply.

After that apply the content of this Meta to improve your question from "okay" to "high quality"

Please note that nothing in this post tries to define what a lifehack is. Because thats for the answers and the scope is defined by questions, not answers.

Also, please note that a lot of stuff makes questions "bad", but not "off-topic". Something that has an obvious every day solution might be "bad" and deserving a downvote, but that does not make it off-topic. And visa-versa a well written question can be off-topic, requiring a close-vote, but not a downvote.

As a sidenote: I felt that the scope was well understood in the last days. When I opened the front page I mostly saw questions I would expect.

  • No questions about your body functions and / or medical advice. I keep seeing people saying that, but it just isn't true. The only meta about medical questions says that we don't have a decision made on this yet. There's also this one and this one that show medical questions are not off-topic.
    – Wipqozn
    Jan 13, 2015 at 11:31
  • 1
    @Wipqozn Even better. Thanks for pointing that out, I removed the 4th restriction. Makes the scope even clearer. Jan 13, 2015 at 11:56
  • Thanks for updating your post to remove that fourth point. I've seen that misconception from a lot of people, so I just wanted to stop it from spreading further. We might eventually decide all medical questions should be off-topic, but for now, at least, they're on-topic.
    – Wipqozn
    Jan 13, 2015 at 12:11

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