Now that we have this network, I'm sure there'll be newbies coming in asking questions like,

How do I get started with Mozilla/KDE/etc?


How do I start contributing to project xyz?

I guess these questions would be very organisation specific, and would spam the network. Would these questions be relevant?

  • 1
    I would be of the opinion that they wouldn't be on-topic, but it might be useful to have a canonical question and answer that discusses these things in general terms so we can point to it Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:10
  • Those questions are too broad on any Stack Exchange site. I think the real question we probably want to ask here is "Are questions about using open source software okay?"
    – user38
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:12
  • @Carpetsmoker more like "Are questions pertaining to contributing to particular open source software okay?"
    – Ranveer
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:14
  • @Ranveer Well, both probably ;-)
    – user38
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:15
  • @Carpetsmoker yep! I guess we have a bunch of questions over here, people would understand what to ask and what not
    – Ranveer
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:16

4 Answers 4


Most of these sorts of questions should (and, I think, will) be closed as too broad. There are a million different ways to "get started" with something and Stack Exchange is not the platform for that type of discussion.

  • 1
    +1. These should be closed. Ideally I'd like to see users who post such questions welcomed to ask more questions as they learn, so they understand that we can help them with questions that occur to them, just not open ended questions. Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 1:35

Both of these questions feel like lack of research type questions. Presumably projects that want contributions from others will provide such answers on their web page/CONTRIBUTING/README/etc.

I do not think we should be the switchboard for projects. If a user wants to contribute, they should be visiting the project and looking at their guidelines not asking us to do it for them.

  • But see, we need to set some ground rules. I have seen newbies on SO asking questions like How to Java? and Plis suggest me best resources on xyz etc.
    – Ranveer
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:13
  • 1
    And those would be closed as too broad/primary opinion/recommend resource. Such questions could receive a similar close reason here too.
    – Andy
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:14
  • Makes sense. Moderation ftw!
    – Ranveer
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:15

Over at Programmers.SE, we have already discussed this and covered it in great depth:

The essence of the answers in the linked questions are that:

  • Too broad. Good answers would be so long they lose focus and end up being worthless (the opposite of good).
  • Unclear. Without enough details to narrow the problem down into something answerable in a reasonable amount of space, the problem statement is a bit fuzzy.

In the context of open source I think asking "which license is right for me given these goals?" would be fine, but the examples you posted are a bit broad and perhaps off-topic (if that is even well-defined in private beta).


These "where do I start" sort of questions will attract opinions and most likely spam (ex. You should start with this). They will be closed for a multitude of reasons. If people want to start and get support for a project, then they should go to the project's existing contributors, or owners.

If we get a bunch of "newbies" asking these sorts of questions, the site could adapt to create a specific reason for closure to send a message to provide well thought out questions if they still apply, or to go directly to the project itself.

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