I've been treating this site as a sort of "How-To" site. Where someone has a problem, and then people work to post the best solution.

I've recently heard that it's meant to be treated as a "Challenge" site. Similar to Code Golf, but with real life challenges rather than programming.

Knowing this, I can definitely see now how that could be the case, but it's also not clear at all if that's what the goal of the site actually is. Especially to new users.

Can we come to a decision (or just make it clear) about what the goal of this site is, and then maybe it will be easier to make some standards for what we expect out of questions and answers?

Is the goal of this site to provide "How-To" advice about varying topics, or is the goal to provide challenges for people to find convoluted solutions to everyday problems?

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    This is the first I'm hearing about the challenge thing. That's a big scope change...
    – hairboat
    Dec 10, 2014 at 16:43
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    I think how-to is much more appropriate of a description. If people want to research the question asked and thus make it somewhat of a "challenge" to themselves to answer it in a clever way that's fine, but we should not treat questions this way. Dec 10, 2014 at 16:55
  • @ZachSaucier Could you put that into an answer so that people can vote on it please? Dec 10, 2014 at 16:58
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    @abbyhairboat it appears there is a lot of focus on the challenge being to find non-conventional solutions, does that not fit your understanding of the site scope here? In that way it does seem kind of like a challenge site - code golf has often simple problems but the rules dictate the answers can't be straight forward solutions, this seems similar to what the scope here is being claimed by some. Dec 11, 2014 at 15:08
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    @JimmyHoffa: It's very different in my mind because on Code Golf, askers make up problems with the intention of challenging the answerers. My understanding was that Lifehacks was seeking to solve problems people were actually facing, not just proposing as a puzzle.
    – hairboat
    Dec 11, 2014 at 15:56
  • @abbyhairboat I would like what you understand it's scope to be the actual one, but it appears there is an amount of people in the community who think it should be arcane and convoluted problems that require a "hack", and where the scope will actually lie between these two spaces is yet to be decided by the community. Dec 11, 2014 at 16:06

3 Answers 3


Viewing Lifehacks as a How-To is a much more appropriate fit.

The purpose of a lifehack is to actually improve our lives in mostly small, but meaningful ways. This means that the questions should actually have a real life purpose behind them. Making questions into a challenge to come up with the most absurd answer that kind-of-still-works is not what this site is about. We're looking for the most effective solutions using supplies that we may already have or can obtain cheaply.

If people answering the question want to research the question being asked and thus make it somewhat of a "challenge" to themselves to answer it in a clever way that's fine, but we should not treat questions this way.


My vision of the site was to help build a community where users were able to find unconventional and sometimes creative solutions to everyday problems when a typical solution (though sometimes regional) was unavailable.

Generic scenario

Here is an outline of a situation in which a user may find themselves turning to LHSE for help:

User is at a location doing a task and they have either lost, broken, run out of, or forgot their standard answer to finish the task. Are the extra materials, components, chemicals, tools, devices, products lying around at the current location to solve the problem, or is the user forced to stop what they are doing, and go to the store and repurchase/replace the "solution(answer) of choice"

Specific example:

Last night I made a birthday cake for my wife. I realized I didn't have any candles for her to blow out. I was faced with the problem, in a pinch, of what could I use to simulate candles on her cake and give the same "feeling" of blowing out candles". My solution was to accept defeat and give her a cake with a "2" on it used recently for our toddler's birthday cake. However, if I had more time, I could have gone to the store and bought more candles.

Example life hack solutions could have included using sparklers if they were around, or place 30 matches into the top of the cake, possibly making candles etc etc...

The point I am making is that if this site is to be about "lifehacks" we should be encouraging any question to be asked, and allowing the community to come up with innovative answers to the problem. I don't think we should turn it into a "challenge" site and race for the most obscure solution.

For me, in summary, the site is more MacGyver than Rube Goldberg.

  • +1, well said. This is in line with my understanding of the site's scope, and I think this is a good direction for us to pursue if we want to keep the site open and running.
    – Shokhet
    Dec 12, 2014 at 19:41
  • Thank you @Shokhet... for a while here I have felt alone in this view/belief. Its good to know i am not alone.
    – Phlume
    Dec 13, 2014 at 17:29

I don't think we're going to be able to successfully handle a site this broad where we try help people in a "how-to" format.

It's become pretty clear that we're floundering with our scope, trying to define what's on-topic or not, and devolving into a war of closing and reopening questions.

It might not make everyone happy, but I think if we change the goal to be about providing and solving challenges, it would solve our problems. We would be able to have almost all the questions we have right now be on-topic, and we would have a clear scope that makes us different from other sites.

With this goal, any question would be on-topic as long as it has a real-world problem that it's trying to solve. That means no theoretical problems, and no computational or programming problems. Think of it like DIY-Golf.

Answers would be encouraged to find the most unconventional method of solving the problem. The term unconventional is a bit subjective, so voting on answers might vary. But we could set up some rules for them like products made specifically to solve the problem cannot be used in the answer (unless for some reason they aren't being used as originally intended).

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    I think this would devolve into an a contest for who can come up with the most absurd answer and end up not being very useful in most cases. As such, I wouldn't continue to take part in this community. Dec 12, 2014 at 15:30
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    I don't believe this is a good proposal. Unconventional ways aren't going to help future readers / googlers.
    – Unihedron
    Dec 12, 2014 at 15:52
  • @Unihedro That would be the point. If they want help, they would go to the other sites equipped to help them. Here, would be for the challenge. Dec 12, 2014 at 15:53
  • I don't think it's for the challenge -- I think it's for unconventional solutions, for people that the conventional solution wouldn't work for ( cc @Unihedro ).
    – Shokhet
    Dec 12, 2014 at 19:39

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