The main site FAQ doesn't go into any detail about the type of questions that are on or off topic here.

If you look at other sites (Programmers or Web Applications) you'll see that there we've gone into a lot of detail about what topics people ought to be asking questions about. This is useful to head off questions and arguments about what's on or off topic.

It makes closing off topic questions a whole lot easier as there's a reference we can use.

What should our FAQ contain? made a start, but I think we should be clearer in this area.

3 Answers 3


Programmers and Web apps are easier subjects to define what is on and offtopic, though. User experience is such a broad, vaguely defined area that it often comes down to individual questions and the way they're phrased. So far the only hard, fast rules I know of are:

  • No implementation questions
  • No "critique my X" questions
  • No "what do you think of Y" questions

In general, I encourage questions that:

  • Ask for facts
  • Ask for examples of research
  • Are phrased such that the answerer is required to back up arguments with reason if no research is available

Other than the above I think it's going to be complicated to define a concrete area of questions that fit into the topic of UX beyond what is already in the FAQ.

  • Well - this would do!
    – ChrisF
    Oct 5, 2011 at 14:06
  • 2
    Yes. This. I'm really frustrated by the development of this page. I feel that we're moving from interesting and thoughtful subjects to "what's the best icon for this"-kind of questions.
    – Phil
    Nov 25, 2011 at 12:25

I've taken another stab.

What kind of questions can I ask here?

User Experience - Stack Exchange is for user experience researchers and designers.

What is User Experience? It's a broad field, drawing expertise from psychologists, writers, industrial designers, typographers, computer scientists, and architects -- just to name a few.

If your job description includes interaction design, usability, or human factors, this site is for you. If you never leave home without your heavily dog-eared copies of The Design of Everyday Things and The Inmates are Running the Asylum, this site is for you.

If you're a programmer, graphic artist, game-designer, maker, copywriter, student-teacher, geologist, or financial adviser, and you design stuff that's used by people, this site is also for you.

We're here to help each other get better at making the world better for the people who use our stuff. We don't discuss implementation details (how things work), but interaction details (how people work... with things). After a few minutes browsing the site, you should get the idea.

Are subjective questions okay?

On Stack Exchange, we prefer questions that can be answered objectively, with facts and references -- the internet has enough opinions. However, we realize "experience" is inherently subjective. Check out the blog post Good Subjective, Bad Subjective for advice on how to ask a subjective question and still get facts and references.

Still not sure? Go ahead and ask! As long as you put some effort into asking a good question, we'll help you improve it so you get the best answers, or redirect you to another Stack Exchange site that can serve you better.

  • I especially like the subjective questions portion. I think we should mention the preference for "answerable" questions but I don't like the idea of discouraging anything but clearly bad questions (like "make my design for me").
    – Ben Brocka
    Nov 12, 2011 at 16:47
  • As a related question, how do we actually go about editing the FAQ? Do mods have any sort of access or do we have to flag down a Stack Exchange employee with some consensus on what to put there?
    – Ben Brocka
    Nov 12, 2011 at 23:22
  • @BenBrocka Moderators can edit the section between "User Experience - Stack Exchange is for user experience researchers and designers" and "Please look around to see if your question has been asked before." Everything after that is the same for all Stack Exchange sites (and that unfortunately includes "What kind of questions should I not ask here?") Nov 13, 2011 at 1:39
  • Ahh, that makes a lot of sense, DBA is having the same discussion and it only covers the "what can I ask here" part.
    – Ben Brocka
    Nov 13, 2011 at 1:57
  • 1
    @BenBrocka New feature request: Give moderators more influence over the FAQs Nov 13, 2011 at 2:12
  • The FAQ has been updated to match the above. As always, if anyone has ideas on how to improve it, no matter how big or small, I'm all ears. Nov 16, 2011 at 1:18
  • Rolled back the FAQ. A couple of weeks later, I've come to my senses. Turning the FAQ into an elevator pitch is a horrible idea. Dec 3, 2011 at 14:32

Adding to Rahul's answer, I think it would be good to come up with a list of categories into which most questions fit. Then we can specify which categories are always off topic and provide guidelines on the ones that can be on topic.

Types of questions that tend to be asked:

  • What's the name for this [design pattern, methodology, UI control...]?
  • Why was this design chosen for this situation on this popular product?
  • Is there any published research on X?
  • How can I [learn more about, get better at, get a job doing] X?
  • Should I use this interface or this other one?
  • How do I implement X (technical question)?
  • Please critique my work.
  • What do you think of X?
  • How can I communicate X to my users? (microcopy, visual affordances)

Is this a good start? What else am I missing?

  • 2
    "I want to do X, what design should I use?"
    – JohnGB Mod
    Oct 7, 2011 at 13:27
  • @JohnGB The "How would you best design for these needs" seems to me to be one of the most common question types, and the best benefit of this site. Unfortunately, it's also a category where the answers are not based on fact, and thus voting is subjective.
    – Phrogz
    Oct 8, 2011 at 13:51

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