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I recently posted A Lifehacks Manifesto, but I wanted to post this commentary separately to keep that introduction free of the historical baggage about how we got here.

Building a Lifehacks site is hard. It doesn’t fit our "normal" rules, and it tests the limits of what we can do (in a good way). But Lifehacks also has all the pieces of an interesting site — it's just that the guidance of what works and what doesn't is buried in a conflicting history of guidelines and missteps, so trying to use this site is understandably… confusing.

Before we could appoint the pro tem moderators, I volunteered to set up the basic framework for administering this site. Don't panic. It is not my intention to hand down the "Ten Commandments" for running this site. But I did hope to create a succinct, tangible foundation to get the community (and the upcoming pro tem moderators) working on the same page. Ideally a community would be able to set this up on their own, but I don't see us getting much closer to settling some of the fundamental issues than we are right now.

The Manifesto (and the close reasons, coming soon) are not a Complete Guide to all the Ways You Can Suck at Lifehacks SE. We don't want that. When a user finds this site through search, you don't want to shuffle them back out the through the door with the meta equivalent of "Didn't you read our FAQ?" 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).

So relax and enjoy this site. Read the introduction and see if you can operate this site under its precepts. If you are here to tell us why this site should be closed, it's probably time to move on to other interests. As we move towards appointing the pro tem moderators and a more consistent form of community self- moderation, I wanted to leave you with a few thoughts going forward:

  • DIY vs. "Thinking Outside the Box"
    This is one we may struggle with for awhile; I hope the Manifesto helps improve this. While we're getting a lot better at closing unfit questions, we seem to be keen on keeping a lot DIY questions simply because we can answer them. This isn't a call to simply close more questions, but keep asking yourself if a question really needs "thinking outside the box" or if it's just another "how to…" questions like how to fix my computer? …or just another way to make something faster, hotter, colder, or cheaper without being necessarily lifehack-y.

  • Avoid Overuse of "Shopping Recommendations"
    Our moratorium on Shopping Recommendations was designed to avoid questions like "which camera should I buy?" But the mere mention of a product in a question or an answer doesn't make it a shopping recommendation. Sometimes products solve problems; sometimes they need lifehacks. You may decide that mentioning a specific product or service might be somewhat spammy, or at least overly gratuitous for the context of that post (e.g. "you should buy an {x} computer because they never have that problem"), but those should be flagged or edited out to make the post more Q&A-worthy — as a means of giving users enough information to find their own products rather than telling them what to buy.

  • Don't Become Stack Exchange's "Miscellaneous" Site
    You don't want to become a dumping ground for questions that simply have nowhere else to go. In that same vein, don't worry about other sites as a reason to close a question. A question is either on topic here or it's not. It's fine to do a bit of cross-promotion when a question might be better answered elsewhere, but the manifesto talks a lot about DIY skills "that can be learned elsewhere." Try not to interpret that to mean just "other" Stack Exchange sites.

As a closing point, I thought I would relink the two posts below. They hold up pretty well, and I thought they might help in outlining our goals for this site:

Insights: How we evaluate a private public beta

Saving “Lifehacks” — Can we make this a topic space instead of a vague buzzword?

Enjoy!

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