I am going to guess that anything not specifically related to woodworking (i.e., welding) should not be considered on topic. The standard StackExchange off topic items like off site recommendations would likely be the case here too.

For the topics that are (like tool recommendations), what types of questions we should be disallowing?


Some of the standard StackExchange question types that are off topic include:

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
  • your question is just a rant in disguise: “______ sucks, am I right?”
  • I think something else to discuss would be: What specific close reasons do we want? It's fine with saying, for example, that questions such as "should I buy a DeWalt or Ryobi orbital hand sander?" are off-topic, but how do we communicate that so that future visitors will see the closed question and understand that they shouldn't ask things of that type in the future?
    – MattDMo
    Mar 17, 2015 at 21:54
  • 2
    I'm going to close this question in its current form. It's probably not a good idea to create one catch-all thread to anticipate, discuss, and remediate all the possible scoping issues you'll come across on this site. If you see a problem growing in actual practice, THEN you can start a meta discussion see if further action is warranted. That way every has a voice and the responses can be properly vetted. But a thread like this is going to have everyone piling on with "what problems can we come up with for this site?" ... and that's just not a great way to start off a community. Mar 18, 2015 at 4:43

2 Answers 2


What should not be allowed (besides also the brand war) is things that are too broad like "I'm buying an X; what should I look for?" Instead the question should be "I'm buying an X to do Y; what should I look for?" As discussed in this meta question.

Similarly is the "Which joint is best?" question. I'd hesitate to allow those in general besides the "Is this joint good enough for X?" This will still leave the answerer open to suggest a joint which is more appropriate for the application.

"How do I build X?" would be too broad. Instead it should be asking for help with a specific step.

  • Like minds... yada, yada...
    – FreeMan
    Mar 17, 2015 at 21:08
  • @Jon flame wars are fought over joint types. Dowel vs. mortise-tenon joint just comes down to which jig you can setup. Besides if you plan to get within the failure margin of either you would brace the corner anyway. Mar 17, 2015 at 22:02
  • Could you elaborate on why a "Which joint is best?" question would be off topic? I am inclined to think of joinery as being a basic topic of wood work. So what am I missing with your reasoning with your answer? I would see which joint is best for X? as fine. I am I just misreading your intent? IE your saying Which joint is the best in the world? is off topic, which I would say true to.
    – Jon
    Mar 17, 2015 at 22:03
  • Sorry I was trying to edit and went over five min.
    – Jon
    Mar 17, 2015 at 22:04
  • 1
    A question that is too broad, or open ended is specifically off topic at all of the SE sites, so I too would close the "Which joint is best?" question. Now, "Which joint is best for this type of wood doing this thing?" would be a question that can have a specific answer. Mar 17, 2015 at 22:10
  • I think the Q&A format tends to not to have flame wars like forums do. Answers that start with "what idiot would use a dowel here", get down voted and deleted rather quickly. I would have to disagree that which joint is best for x questions should be off topic here. At least until we see that these questions always lead to flame wars here at SE woodworking.
    – Jon
    Mar 17, 2015 at 22:13
  • @AdamZuckerman it has to be a concrete situation IMO. Not just a resist this type of force. Mar 17, 2015 at 22:16
  • @AdamZuckerman I did not get that ratchet was talking about question scope, I think he was talking about asking questions about joinery in general as a subject that starts flame wars so should not be allowed. At least that was the answer he gave to why asking about a why a joint question should be off topic.
    – Jon
    Mar 17, 2015 at 22:20
  • @ratchetfreak, I am thinking that in a situation where you know what type of force you need to resist, you are asking for a specific thing being done, and therefore the question would be on topic (e.g., I need a joint for two boards over 6 feet long capable of holding a downward load in excess of 200lbs. What joint would I use?) Mar 17, 2015 at 22:20

I would think that tool recommendations would be acceptable in a generic sense:

Q: What kind of chisel works best for the interior cut of a bowl?

A: An inside bowl chisel*

However, a tool model/brand recommendation question would be off-topic:

Q: Should I get a DeWalt XY472 or a Makita LM394 cordless saw?

A: [Closed] Off-topic

I think that a brand-specific question could be generalized into a more generic recommendation with an edit:

Q: Should I get the DeWalt XY472 7 1/4" miter saw, or the XY854 12" sliding miter saw for X type cutting?

Q: (edited) Should I get a 7 1/4" miter/chop saw, or 12" sliding miter saw for X type cutting?

A: For X type cutting a sliding miter saw would generally be the best bet.

*I might have to ask that question, since I haven't the foggiest

  • While I'm not against tool questions, I'm wondering where the SE ideal of thought provoking comes into any one of these? Mar 17, 2015 at 21:44
  • For your second hypothetical question, what would the close reason be?
    – MattDMo
    Mar 17, 2015 at 21:50
  • @MattDMo ... I would say it falls under the "shopping assistance" kind of thing. There are very few reasons to promote one brand over another, even though we know some brands are inherently better. Things change over time, though, so promoting a brand or a specific model should be off-topic. As FreeMan stated, though, changing the question to be "What is the right tool for the job?" type would be on topic, keeping it generic to brand in the process. Mar 17, 2015 at 21:57
  • 1
    @Paulster2 that sounds good. We'll need to have a discussion at some point about what our custom close reasons will be. In fact, I'll go ask right now...
    – MattDMo
    Mar 17, 2015 at 22:23

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