It seems to me that if this site is going to succeed that we're going to have to get down to the nitty gritty.

Most of the questions I've seen so far are asking about the general case of "beer." It seems to me that this is a very poor way of attracting experts to this topic.

  • 2
    Do you see specific questions that seem probematic? A more general question may be better if it can be applied to numerous specific cases. It's hard to imagine that would generally force a question that could apply to all beer to be narrowed to a specific case.
    – Jaydles
    Jan 22, 2014 at 5:18

4 Answers 4


In general? Yes, we should push for more specificity.

That said, a lot of the more wide-ranging and general questions we've had so far - especially those on storage, freshness, preservation, etc. don't require any sort of narrowing. The same rules pretty much apply across the board for these subjects, and getting them out of the way, so to speak, is an inevitable part of the beta process.

If, after a few days, people still haven't managed to more finely calibrate their questions, it'd be worth looking at what sort of guidelines are worth implementing to try to get to that point.


Edit: After discussion I realize that in my answer here I was really thinking more about the future state of the site, rather than the specific requirements of private beta. I no longer hold this opinion precisely.

Original post:

One reason to have some of these more general questions is to provide potential canonical answers to future questions from many newcomers. Another reason is it provides a base of general knowledge over time. Anyone who has spent time on sister sites like Stack Overflow can see how over time, questions become more and more specific as the general cases gain answers that are widely accepted by the community.

That's not to say we shouldn't have very specific questions: ask away! Rather, in my opinion it's very helpful, especially at first, to "seed" the site with some as long as they are solid, commonly-asked questions, both to provide examples of strong questions and answers and to provide someplace for newcomers to start.

Note that I'm not talking about questions that are too generic or opinion-based and thus off-topic, e.g. "Is beer good for you?" or "What is the best kind of beer?", or filling the site with junk questions just to make it appear active.

Unless the audience of the site is "only experts may apply", which I didn't think it was, there is nothing wrong with a well-written, direct, non-expert question.

  • 1
    I'm still of the mind that treating beer as a monolith is going to deter experts from coming, you don't seem to address that in this answer.
    – wax eagle
    Jan 22, 2014 at 0:18
  • 2
    Yikes. Unfortunately, your opening premise has shown to be a really poor way to build a new site and often the reason new sites never makes it out of private beta. Please see Asking the First Questions Jan 22, 2014 at 2:35
  • +1 for "One reason to have some of these more general questions is to provide potential canonical answers to future questions from many newcomers." I use stackoverflow quite a lot, and often when I google a problem there's an old, simple, question, even if it gets closed for being opinion based or too broad, that's exactly what you're looking for.
    – dwjohnston
    Jan 22, 2014 at 4:42
  • 1
    @dwjohnston while some simple questions are good, the first questions should be expert level. Those are the questions that get the experts in the door.
    – wax eagle
    Jan 22, 2014 at 11:06
  • @RobertCartaino If you read more carefully, nothing I said precludes expert questions. Rather, my point is that more often-asked, straightforward questions are also useful. These questions do not require narrowing.
    – phoebus
    Jan 22, 2014 at 15:05
  • @RobertCartaino Also, several of the items calling out "seeding the site" in the linked article (which I've read many times) don't apply the sorts of questions I'm talking about, e.g. "the asker doesn't care about the answer", etc. While those are all reasons not to "seed a site" just to do so, they aren't arguments against non-expert questions. I think maybe you are put off by my use of the term seed because it was specifically used in that article. I have struck it out of the above and clarified.
    – phoebus
    Jan 22, 2014 at 15:07
  • @waxeagle That depends, some experts enjoy helping the less-knowledgeable just as much as they do discussing things among their "peers". I think you need a spectrum unless your site is very specifically only for expert discussion, e.g. some of the math-related SE sites.
    – phoebus
    Jan 22, 2014 at 15:12
  • 1
    Phoebus, You're suggesting to ask those future-new-user questions now. That is your site design. The problem is that folks are front-loading the site with awfully basic and mundane questions — questions asked hundreds of times on every other site on the subject. If I were to approach this site as it stands now, I'd likely move on. "Meh, nothing terribly special or interesting here." That does preclude experts, whether that's your intention or not. Jan 22, 2014 at 15:28
  • @RobertCartaino It seems you are trying to force me to defend every poor question that folks are asking. Without specific examples provided by the asker of this question, it's difficult to determine exactly the sort of questions he's talking about. You and I may be thinking of different things. I will tell you this re: the "experts" question: I would consider myself an "expert" in the topics discussed on StackOverflow and ServerFault, but I primarily go there to help out the less experienced rather than ask and answer questions regarding the most esoteric minutiae.
    – phoebus
    Jan 22, 2014 at 15:41
  • @phoebus No worries. I'm just concerned that "one reason to have some of these more general questions [now]" is getting so many up-votes. It completely defeats the purpose of having a private beta where we are explicitly and intentionally looking to see why we need this site in the first place. Yes, folks will naturally ask these basic questions... someday. But seeing them so prevalent in private beta does not bode well. Right now this is a big yawner. That's just my opinion of course, but I'd hate to see people come away thinking this is what a private beta is about. Jan 22, 2014 at 16:08
  • @RobertCartaino Thanks, that helps me understand a bit more. I was thinking I guess more of the SE context in general rather than in the context of private beta.
    – phoebus
    Jan 22, 2014 at 16:10
  • @phoebus Oh, yes. Big difference. Long term, this site should strive to have all the questions. But it's not a strong premise/foundation to build a new site on. Jan 22, 2014 at 16:13
  • @RobertCartaino - Now that this site is no longer in a private beta, it would be exceptional if you could post an answer to this question, especially since you were part of the original form of Stack Overflow which spawned the exchange. Perhaps you could include some insight on what the outlook was when that site was just starting out.
    – Travis J
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:30
  • @TravisJ I'm not really clear what you are asking about (or asking me to reply to). Feb 5, 2014 at 17:33
  • @RobertCartaino - Sorry for not being clear enough. I was asking for you to answer the OP's question: "should general questions about beer be made more specific". There has been some debate about whether or not to allow questions which are very specific (such as a specific brand or region). It seems like most questions, regardless of specificity, would benefit this new exchange since it is still building content. Is that accurate? When SO first started I know that it was pretty lenient with its questions because it too was building content.
    – Travis J
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:37

How to evaluate Beer.stackexchange:

  • Here is an StackExchange site that focus on a specific topic. If the site was based on all alcohol drinks or all drinks, then more specific questions might be expected. But here is about beer, and all answerable questions must be on topic. When the community grows larger and attracts too many people and too many low quality questions starts to disturb community, then it might be discussed again.
  • Attracting experts is a good thing to have. But no StackExchange site must be a place for just experts. Good question is the question which is clear and answerable. We need a good content now.
  • Experts will look for good sites that have a vast variety of content that they interested in. Forums do not have this since they are like trash. Even they have some good content, the rest of the content show it rubbish-ish. We must make questions be good and answerable and keep answers clean and understandable by many other users (not only ones who asks and answer). In short, Q&A format must also offers future reference for other community members and people outside this community (unregistered users.)
  • Enthusiasts or beginners asks general and simple questions. Mostly, people who have enough knowledge may produce such specific and attractive questions. By having a good Q&A base of basic and non-specific questions, community will create users who have enough knowledge to ask better questions.

These are what I thought about the closed beta proccess.


For a lot of these questions, narrowing it down specifically would only result in the same question being asked endlessly, with a different beer cut and paste into it, and the exact same answers.

Rather than having to ask and answer each one, or close them as duplicates, it's better to just ask and answer for the general case and then you're done!

From there, you can break it down specifically and ask for when you believe the general case doesn't apply (although what if you're wrong, and it turns out that the general case does apply? Close as duplicate?)

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