A user on our site just asked When should you form a union? Because of the issues faced with a recent large corporation and a union in the United States, there is a lot of activity on the Internet about this topic, and many people are searching for it.
These are opportunities to help generate awareness of the site. Sam Brand, a Stack Exchange employee and member of the CHAOS team, made attempts earlier this year to help promote several Stack Exchange sites based on posting questions that involved trending topics.
He had varying success, as some of the questions were shut down by the community for not following certain guidelines. Others made the cut and ended up becoming helpful inroads to the community.
In Can Stack Exchange Capitalize on Hot Trends, Sam gives some advice on how to help capitalize on these trends, based on his experiences:
Sometimes a site’s rules can get in the way of creating the sort of topical content that would make the net a better place. What happened with Question #1 illustrates this well. A couple Mondays ago, investing in Facebook seemed like a pretty good idea. So, like thousands of others I googled: “How can I invest in Facebook’s IPO?” What resulted were a jumble of links that referred to E-Trade’s involvement in the initial public offering, but no stories that told me directly whether I was eligible to bid on the shares at the IPO price. I just wanted an answer. So I took the query to our Personal Finance site, where the question was quickly closed. The reason for the closure? A similar question had previously been asked at the site, but about Skype’s IPO. Needless to say, Skype is not Facebook, and neither question will ever answer anyone’s question about getting in on any upcoming IPOs. Lacking a canonical answer, this is a case where a site should really learn to love the duplicates.
Sam also asks an important question:
Q: So, what can we do? How can Stack Exchange improve in cases like these when a good question with a hot proper noun gets shut down?
A: Vote to reopen. Not enough rep? Ask your friends to vote to reopen. Flag for moderator attention. And make your case in the comments. If you want an expert answer, put in a little work to deserve it.
In addition to Sam's advice, I don't think the rules need to necessarily be fully bent or broken in cases like this. In the question that's currently open on our site, we should ask ourselves what changes, if any, the asker should (or could) make, to help it comply with the rules a bit more. Perhaps the answer isn't to only bend the rules, but to also find a middle ground, via editing, that allows the question to exist on the site while also bringing it closer to the blurry line that is the site's boundary.
If the only problem is that it's a duplicate, then maybe we let that slide, since it's not like the "What language should I learn next?" questions on Programmers SE, where there exists an endless stream of duplicates. We should ask ourselves if an occasional, or one time duplicate, to take advantage of a trend is really more costly than the potential rewards.
In summary, if you look at this question, and your first instinct is to vote to close, I encourage you to look for ways to find value in this post. It's questions like this that have potential to increase participation in Workplace SE, and I hope we can find a way to make this question work.