This is a gentle introduction to what this Lifehacks site is about. For a bit more detail about how we got here, see the Un-Manifesto.

Welcome to Lifehacks! We can't teach you how to wire your stereo or how to learn a new language; but if you need to open a bottle of wine but don't have a corkscrew… you're in the right place.

A "life hack" is generally a tool or technique used to solve an everyday problem in unexpected ways. We can't let this become a catch-all site where pretty much anything is on topic — but we are pretty comfortable with harnessing all the creative energies of our hacker-mindset culture to find those intriguing, unexpected solutions to the stubborn problems we face everyday!

Figuring this site out can be a bit challenging at times — take a look at our front page to get a feel for what "works" — but if your question gets put on hold, don't despair. If we can't fix it, it doesn't mean it's a bad question; it just may not be a good fit for this site.

So what is a life hack?

A life hack is a seemingly intractable, stubborn problem that can be solved by…

…thinking "outside the box".

This is important

"Lifehacks SE" is NOT a place to ask your everyday "how to…" questions. If your question amounts to learning a craft, or gaining some expertise in a skill you simply do not possess, you're question may not be on topic here. So…

IF YOUR QUESTION IS ABOUT…

  • seeking uncommon solutions to common problems;
  • asking for unusual ways of using everyday objects to make life easier;
  • looking for simple and practical tips to life's everyday problems that may not have an obvious solution

AND IT IS NOT ABOUT…

  • conventional "how to…" questions about skills that can commonly be learned elsewhere;
  • using products in the way they were designed to be used (e.g. keyboard shortcuts, obscure features, how to get your smartphone to do {x});
  • "mind hacks" including personal productivity & self-improvement tips, memorization & learning techniques, etc;
  • contrived challenges that reject easy and readily available solutions simply to make the problem "more interesting"

…then you are in the right place.

What about questions that aren't seeking "life hacks"?

This isn't a general learning or DIY site. If a question doesn't seem to need "thinking outside the box", it will likely be closed as off topic. But be sure to leave thoughtful guidance as to why.

What about ANSWERS that are not life hacks?

This is a tough one. You can't always know if a problem needs a life hack before you ask it. So if it turns out that someone's problem also has a "practical" solution, someone should be able to say so. If it turns out the answers consist almost entirely of "how to" guides or mainstream product recommendations, it may not have been a good fit for this site. But remember, it is up to the author to clearly show why a problem needs an "outside the box" solution in the first place.

But don't be rude. If an answer isn't creative or clever enough for your liking, just don't up-vote it. The "best" answers rise to the top. It may not be a lifehacky answer, but it is a solution to their problem.

AND ONE SOLUTION PER ANSWER! We cannot properly vet an answer that contain a list of solutions. There are times that a comprehensive answer might cover more than one variation, but if you see a post that is just a brain-dump of unrelated answers, please comment and get it edited down to one answer per post. Answers should be comprehensive, but one solution per post please!

And most of all… enjoy!

Lifehacks doesn’t fit our normal concept of a "Q&A site". It tests the limits of what we can do with Stack Exchange (in a good way). We may not build the next Library at Alexandria, but with a bit of patience and cooperation, we can build a place where you can kick back, relax, and have a bit of fun while we all learn something new today.

qen outoujou

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    I can't express how much I agree with this. Just one question: what answers should be flagged as 'Not an Answer'? – Mooseman Feb 23 '15 at 20:54
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    @Mooseman Apart from the literal non-answer stuff (comments, questions posted to answers, etc), I can think of two scenarios — (1) A post that does not answer the question AS ASKED. This is going to become important as we lean on question authors to clarify why they need a hack. And (2), a non-informational answer where the author is essentially sending users elsewhere to get that information. Some folks call them link-only answers, but I tend to look bigger and flag anything that is essentially devoid of an actual "answer" to the question in the body of the post. – Robert Cartaino Feb 23 '15 at 21:47
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    @RobertCartaino Couldn't agree more with this post and the last comment you put on. Now, I think we need to take action and make it available for easy access in the Help Center. – michaelpri Feb 23 '15 at 22:13
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    @michaelpri Agreed. As Mr. Cartaino posted in the un-manifesto: "The site has to be approachable and its purpose clear without having to wade through a gauntlet of meta posts to just to know if you are in the right place (or not)." – Mooseman Feb 23 '15 at 22:24
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    So how do we go about closing the 90% of the questions currently on the site that are conventional how-to questions? – Gilles Feb 24 '15 at 8:28
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    @Gilles You shouldn't. One of the biggest problems of this early community was taking every meta post and turning it into a sweeping movement to rake over half the site. There's nothing to suggest that 90% of the question should be closed. My biggest fear was that posting this would trigger an all-out inquisition against every post on this site. Instead I would take a step back and let the site take shape organically. New stuff can be scrutinized and old stuff will be dealt with as folks come to decide, "hey, maybe this doesn't belong here anymore." That's how SO took shape... over time. – Robert Cartaino Feb 24 '15 at 15:32
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    @RobertCartaino Then you should remove “conventional "how to…" questions about skills that can commonly be learned elsewhere” and “using products in the way they were designed to be used” from the off-topic list. Indeed a lot of meta traffic has been about ruling them out, but that is what the main site is predominantly about. – Gilles Feb 24 '15 at 16:35
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    Thank you very much for posting this, Robert. – Shokhet Feb 25 '15 at 5:13
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    @RobertCartaino in this post "A Lifehacks Manifesto" you don't say anything about medical questions. What is your opinion about these questions? – vladiz Feb 25 '15 at 9:31
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    @vladiz The issue of "medical questions" isn't really commensurate with defining the purpose/scope of this site. It's more of a meta issue, but here are my thoughts on the subject: Not all medical questions are categorically off topic. – Robert Cartaino Feb 25 '15 at 14:09

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