So, in our most recent meta question, we tried to determine whether or not this question is topical to the site.

Gypsy Spellweaver pointed out:

Without a change to the Help Center text it's off topic. The Help Center does emphasize the teaching aspect, even going so far as to minimize the need to be a classroom environment.

And a quick look at our Help Center shows that he's quite obviously correct. The relevant language from the link is this (emphasis mine):

In general, Computer Science Educators Stack Exchange is a place to ask questions about how to teach concepts in computer science, computer organization, or software engineering. Generally, these are questions about teaching in a classroom, but this is by no means a requirement. People teach in many environments, and any questions about teaching CS are on-topic here.

Even questions about how to self-teach are allowed, but be careful that the question is not just asking about the topic itself.

The limits of "how to teach concepts" are very real, and we have never held ourselves to them. We have large classes of questions that simply don't fit those criteria, but they have historically (and repeatedly) been well-received by the community. In fact, many of them are from our early days when our topicality was being developed and honed. We have always had, and accepted, such questions.

There are many questions that are not about how to teach, but are, rather, about what to teach. For instance:

There are also many questions about the nature of computer science education in some important way. As a few examples:

The questions I linked to were all definitely well received (5 or more upvotes, and not a single downvote among them.) Very few of the questions were ever hot, so that means that the votes were also largely by site regulars, not by drive-by visitors. These are strong indications that the questions I've linked to are considered topical by the large majority of our userbase.

By my rough estimation, and ignoring questions that simply get closed, about 40% of the questions on the site are not about how to teach a concept.

It seems obvious to me that the Help Center definition is not reflective of who we are and needs an update. It is silly to leave a definition up that designates nearly half of our well-received questions as off-topic.

We are a small community, so we don't need scores of upvotes to this question to make a change, but we do need some. Answers could also include proposed language that more aptly describes what topicality entails here at CS Educators. Alternatively, if you have downvoted this proposal, you might answer with how to deal with questions like the ones I've pointed to.


1 Answer 1


CS Educators is a site for questions:

  • of CS Educators, answered
  • by CS Educators, and useful
  • for CS Educators later.

Questions which CS Educators have, which are likely best answered by other CS Educators, and are likely to benefit CS Educators later are the "target" for the site. If the best information is probably not from a CS Educator, rather from an Academic Advisor, Career Counselor, or InfoSec professional, it's probably not a good fit here.

There have been a few meta questions about scope before, including:

One additional question, not targeted above yet quite relevant to this question is Site scope thoughts.

Upon reading my own words from time gone by, I'm surprised to see that a) my thoughts remain unusually constant and consistent, and b) this question remains. I'm also slightly worried about repeating myself too much. As clarity in brief is certainly not one of my strong suits, I'm firmly stepping away from suggesting edits to the Help Center. Reviews of ideas and proposals, however, I'm more than willing to assist with.

The Help Center article might benefit from additional clarity. That clarity, however, ought to be such that the motivating question remains off-topic while admitting most of the example questions. Of the sample questions presented, a few actually do fall outside what I consider the proper scope for the site, (without respect to question quality):

A few of the sample questions did receive answers which would make them seem out of scope. The question's topicality, however, shouldn't be judged on the ability of other to answer the scope of the question.

All other aspects, and my thoughts, are collected and articulated in the Site scope thoughts question listed above.


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