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I recently came across something which struck home for me in Looking for Superpowers Preferably Physics Based. In the comments, the author commented that it seemed a bit arbitrary that we don't allow idea generation on WB.SE, and that he'd like if the rules were posted up front.

Now I understand why we don't have idea generation, but his plight echoed mine when I joined WB. Its not clear that rules even exist until someone comes by and slaughters your question with some "no idea generation" rule which you couldn't find anywhere.

Does SE offer any way to make those rules more visible to a new user? It bothered me that I couldn't find a good way to find the "rules" of the SE when I got here, and it clearly got to the author of that post as well.

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I agree that the "Idea Generation" reason to close isn't very good, as most questions are about idea generation. But that discussion was already made some time ago

Should we rename Idea Generation?

Since then I tend to avoid closing anything for idea generation. But the question you took as an illustration is simply too broad. I voted to close as such. And those rules are there over all the sites.

Furthermore, if people were actually reading the help pages, they would get that info up front.

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    $\begingroup$ So honest question: Where at the help pages? $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 1 '15 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ "Idea generation" does not appear as such in the help. But too broad and opinion-based do. Even in the tour. More reason for me, not to VTC "Idea Generation", but most of those are too broad or too opinion-based. $\endgroup$ Nov 1 '15 at 18:59
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The two tools available before a question gets asked are the tour and the help center. New users are prompted to take the tour when they first visit. For the help center (or the tour after that initial prompt) you have to know to go look:

screen shot

Moderators have limited ability to edit these pages; most of it comes from SE and is the same across all sites, but we do have the ability to edit the "ask about/don't ask about" lists in the tour and the on-topic/off-topic lists in the help center. I just took a look and you're right; those aren't as clear as they could be.

Please feel free to suggest improvements to these pages. What -- that is bullet-point-sized, not a long paragraph -- could we put in the do/don't-ask lists in the tour to make our scope clearer? If you (anybody, not just the OP) propose alternatives in an answer, the community can easily weigh in and we can refine through edits.

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  • $\begingroup$ Where do you look for the help center? $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 1 '15 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon I added a screen shot to my answer. $\endgroup$ Nov 1 '15 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ HAHAH! Holy cow. Thanks! I should post this on the User Experience SE as a case study. I'm so used to seeing totally useless help content in such help buttons on the header bars that it never even occurred to me that one could have actual content in it =) $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 1 '15 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon Wow... Almost 20k rep and you've never clicked on the help button? Astonishing! I clicked on it just because it was there. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Nov 2 '15 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre What can I say. Some people just can't be helped. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 2 '15 at 5:07

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