Questions are sometimes asked on StackExchange which show that the questioner isn't really aware of what UX actually is.

When this happens the subject is - quite rightly - put on hold and they are directed here: https://ux.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic.

Yes I know that the answer to 'what is UX' is nuanced (understatement) - but the philosophy of StackExchange is inclusive and helpful. Should there be something on that page to help educate people who think they know what UX is, but are not quite there?

So, as it's good practice to suggest a solution having pointed out a problem, here's a suggestion for the paragraph [lights blue touch-paper and retires...]

’User eXperience’ (UX) describes a person’s emotional response when using an organisation’s products or services. It’s a broad term which can simultaneously encompass a response to specific functionality ‘I like the way this section shows add-ons that I might want to buy along with what’s in my shopping basket’ and brand values ‘It’s incredibly slick, but without being pushy.’

The term ‘User eXperience Design’ describes the process of bringing about that positive emotional response. This is what we discuss on the site - asking questions and sharing answers on the principles and practices of design that make a better - or worse - experience.

2 Answers 2


The tour page currently states:

UX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for User Experience Designers, Information Architects, and Human Computer Interaction researchers. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about user experience.

You're correct in that it doesn't display what UX is, but we do expect a certain degree of knowledge from users before they start using this site (otherwise we'd be no better than Quora or Yahoo Answers!)

The same is true with relatively esoteric sites such as TeX - LaTeX, Ask Ubuntu or GIS. We're not here to educate people into what the core topic of a site is about, we're here for experts and practitioners in that field to share and acquire knowlege in that area.

Having said that, most of the copy on these pages are locked-down from a configuration perspective as Stack Exchange look to have a consistent approach across all their sites, but that particular paragraph above is open to amends, should we feel it is warranted. If you feel we could express the philosophy of this site in a better way that also educates people into the subject matter itself then please do suggest something (amend your question here to include your revision, for instance) and if people agree then we can look to update that tour page. It's been 3 years since we did anything with that copy, so perhaps it is due a refresh.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer Jon. In the case of UX I think it would be useful, because it is one of those specialisms where so many people think they know what it is, but so few actually do know what it is. You've only to look at adverts for UX jobs to realise that even the people procuring it can be deeply and unconsciously ignorant of what the UX role is. Hell, even I'm not sure sometimes, and I make my living from it. The same's not true of LaTex, esoteric though it might be. Ok I will reword my question to put in a suggestion of what we could put.
    – jackiemb
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 17:19
  • 1
    This runs the risk of turning into a 'What is UX' thread though... Let me get comfortable with a cup of tea and a biscuit before that kicks off - it could be a long and interesting discussion
    – jackiemb
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 17:24
  • @JonW, would it be possible to update the top part of the on topic page instead? (I mean the part where it says "What topics can I ask about here?") It seems a bit roundabout to link people to the Tour when they're being put on hold for being off-topic. It's more direct to send them to the page that says what is on topic. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 22:42
  • @GrahamHerrli Yes, that page can also be edited. Feel free to propose an alternative (new meta post probably).
    – JonW Mod
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 10:38
  • @jackiemb I hope you don't suggest that like a beginning of a Documentation section. This is causing already problems on Stack Overflow. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 11:43
  • @MadalinaTaina sorry I didn't understand your comment, could you clarify?
    – jackiemb
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 12:03
  • @JonW now that this has turned more into a 'what is UX?' discussion is there a case for migrating it back?
    – jackiemb
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 16:37

I would support such a feature/content for two reasons:

Firstly, I think there are lots of new users coming to the site constantly, and I think being able to provide a clear focus and vision for not just the purpose of the site but the subject matter is good user experience. I have tried to introduce UXSE to students either teaching themselves about UX or undertaking a course, but the barriers to learning and using the site remains quite high and we should unnecessarily exclude users due to suboptimal experiences because they have the wrong expectations of what the site is about.

Secondly, I think the nature of UX is still changing at a rapid pace, so it is good to define and capture the essence of what the field is about according to its users. As is consistent with the StackExchange philosophy, the forum should be shaped by its users, so this is a way to track how UXSE is evolving.

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