There are a few questions on the front page that are basically asking for advice:

I don't think that we're the right place to solicit advice. Whilst I think that "best practices" is also dubious, I think that there is a place for sharing ideas and experiences. So I would prefer it if questions like those linked above were rewritten to be one of the following types:

  1. Soliciting ideas:

    • Template: "My way of doing X is appalling, but I have no idea how to improve it. What do other people do to solve the problem?" (CW, of course)
  2. Soliciting resources:

    • Template: "There's something not quite right about my documents; I suspect it's due to the fact that I haven't quite found the right shade of fuchsia (or spelling of it) for the background. Where can I read about how colour affects readability?"
  3. Implementing advice:

    • Template: "I was reading Mrs Cake's cookbook of typography recipes (published 2015) and came across some suggestions that look really good. However, I don't know how to implement them. How do I do X?"

I suppose I ought to have a question here somewhere.

  • Do people agree with me?
  • Could something based on this be put in our "unofficial FAQ"?
  • I agree. First of all, "best practices" are likely to be subjective and argumentative. Unless of course they can be fitted into one of your templatesx above (and even then...)
    – Seamus
    Apr 5, 2011 at 11:14
  • 3
    Who the heck is Mrs Cake? Apr 9, 2011 at 1:48

1 Answer 1


They're problematic, but if they work out well, best practices Q&As can be good advertising for the site – ask any SEO what linkbait means. That said, changes in usage that reduce the signal/noise ratio in questions would outweigh the good of an increase in traffic.

I'm somewhat indifferent about the problem as presented. Only the font question is a genuinely subjective & argumentative, and I don't think we have a big issue here overall.

That said, the solution proposed – having a guide to what questions should ask for, with examples – is good in any case.

  • I deliberately didn't say anything about the "subjective and argumentative" issue. Even on something that isn't subjective and argumentative, there's still the question of verification. I would know that if you answered a question on typography that you were answering from experience, but how would Joe TeXer know that your answer should be paid more heed than, say, mine? Answers should be independently verifiable, so my attempts in the question are to turn unverifiable ones into verifiable ones. Apr 6, 2011 at 12:25
  • @Andrew: I agree with trying to improve questions, but our ability to direct people is limited, except in so far as we have the power to close bad questions. The only "don't" we have here is the subjective & argumentative, the rest is guidance on how to do things better, either codified in a FAQ or made in comments. I get the feeling that you are much more perfectionist about the site than I am: I am just pleased that tex.sx is so much nicer than SO. Apr 6, 2011 at 12:54
  • I wouldn't say "perfectionist". Rather, I have some definite ideas about what works and doesn't work on sites like this, and I feel that if there's too many questions that don't match this then it degenerates into a generic Q&A and loses what make it special. So I'm happy to give "guidance" where I think it would help, but I feel happier knowing that I've cleared it with "the community" first. Apr 6, 2011 at 18:59

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