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I created a Venn-style diagram over at Programmers that is now included in the FAQ. I'd like to make one for this site, too, but I need the community's help on the actual definition. Based on a couple of the on-topic questions already asked here on Meta, this is my first draft:

enter image description here

What do you think? How can it be improved?

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    Programmers made their diagram because they had pretty hardcore scope issues; I'm not convinced we need that yet, I'd rather keep the FAQ simple until problems arise. – Rarity Apr 11 '12 at 22:34
  • Actually... I just created it because people didn't seem to get it. Its not far-fetched to see that happening here, since it's already starting to. – Nicole Apr 11 '12 at 22:40
  • There's some personal productivity stuff I've seen around, but I'm not sure it's totally off topic. – Rarity Apr 11 '12 at 23:02
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    I have to admit that I've gotten really wary when the Venn diagram gets trotted out on P.SE because (in probably only my opinion) it seems to get misused. I don't think we need this diagram, and I don't think it adds any clarity here. – Andrew Apr 12 '12 at 16:00
  • How about replacing professional setting with things you do at work. And Specific jobs with Specific job functions. I think that is a better representation. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 12 '12 at 16:34
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    Trust me, the Venn diagram of Programmers.SE creates more confusion to many people than it solves it. Yes, it is very crystal clear - but it has not stopped so many questions still being closed. – Dipan Mehta Apr 20 '12 at 16:04
  • If you really want to make a crisp site definition - make exclude the list of subjects and explicit nature of questions that are on-topic off-topic. Make a long list of good (and bad) example questions. – Dipan Mehta Apr 20 '12 at 16:05
  • I think you should just get rid of the computers part all together. And Professional Setting should be a subset of specific jobs. – Dynamic Apr 21 '12 at 0:18
  • Perhaps I'm confused, but I guess you 're just trying to say questions that apply in some way to "professional settings, but not a specific job" is the scope of this exchange. If so, I don't agree. – Jim In Texas May 15 '12 at 17:20
  • To me 'professional' means someone licensed by the government and accountable to some sort of reviewing authority. This excludes about 90% of the participants here. – Jim In Texas Mar 12 '13 at 19:49
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I don't think it's nearly as clear as the one on Programmers.

For one thing, "Professional Setting" doesn't really fit as a subset of "All Jobs" or as a superset of "Specific Jobs." I definitely see what you're getting at, but I think the wording is confusing.

Secondly, I don't understand the "All People Who Use Computers" part. If I'm reading it correctly, then your question is only on topic if it pertains to a professional setting and is about people who use computers.

Is that correct? If so, I thought this meta question determined that non-IT questions were on topic. So I guess I'm confused on that point.

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  • No, the "All people who use computers" is meant to show that it's an intersection, and doesn't necessarily mean on or off topic. It was a response to a question about chair recommendations, which applies to professional workers but is not specific to professional workers. Thanks for your feedback. – Nicole Apr 12 '12 at 0:04
  • @NickC, so computer recommendations would be on topic? I don't understand the red circle either, sorry. – Benjol Apr 12 '12 at 9:58
  • @Benjol I'll have to fix it. The blue area is the only on-topic area. So questions about office equipment are only on-topic if they are specific to the workplace (such as how do I talk to my boss about needing new equipment). – Nicole Apr 12 '12 at 15:42
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Why are you thinking of including this?

All people who use computers

Why can't people who work in a bakery or foundry have workplace issues? It only serves to confuse the diagram.

Don't forget the diagram was only needed on Programmers because of the rescoping of the site. If we get the scope right first time (which there's no reason we shouldn't) the diagram won't be necessary.

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    That's why it's sideways, it DOES include people that don't use computers...but it's still confusing and unhelpful IMO – Rarity Apr 22 '12 at 16:59
  • Yep, Rarity is right. This originated as an answer to why questions solely about office furniture are off topic (much like the Programmers diagram originated) but I agree, it's confusing when generalized. – Nicole Apr 23 '12 at 17:36
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I agree with root45's answer about the circles being confusing, but I also think if you include a graphic that large and colorful in the FAQ, it should fully and completely explain the site scope

It would perhaps be more suitable as part of the meta-faq, where a meta post is dedicated to how to identify an on/off topic question, but in it's current form I wouldn't want it in the main FAQ

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I'm not sure we need this at all. One particular problem I have with it is that not everyone will know what a "Professional Setting" is (I still don't, and neither does wikipedia!), and even if we come up with a sensible definition, I'm not sure how we'd include it in the diagram.

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I think that this is an excellent idea.

A diagram like this very clearly and quickly defines the scope of the site, in fact I think simple diagrams like this would be worthwhile having in every stack exchange site FAQ.

I do have a few suggestions though:

  • The red circle representing All people who use computers isn't really necessary.

It might be useful in the context of another FAQ question on Are IT related question on topic here? but in the main What kind of questions can I ask here? FAQ entry it just adds unnecessary confusion.

I think the original Question applies to actually works better than On topic if question applies to, since the circles are either on topic or off topic, depending on whether they are filled or empty.

  • Replace Professional setting with All workplaces

This makes it consistent with the other sets and means that when you put it together with the diagram title the sentence scans. I.e. the on-topic circle would read Question applies to all workplaces rather than On topic if question applies to professional setting.

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