What is the rationale for not allowing answers during the definition phase of a proposal? My naive understanding of this phase's purpose is that it helps define the topic and audience for a proposed site, and I would contend that candidate answers and tags contribute to that almost as much as questions. Were there solid reasons for excluding answers and tags from that phase?

The same question could be asked for the commitment phase as well, and for this one, I would suggest that being able to answer questions during the commitment phase could help build a knowledge base that would be extremely useful during the beta phase, especially if the commitment phase is to go on for several months. It should not serve as a substitute for the beta phase, but I like to believe that some middle ground could be found during which commitment is properly assessed, while a body of knowledge is being prepared.

  • 14
    This discussion should be included in FAQs.
    – noob
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 15:45

5 Answers 5


I understand your eagerness to get these questions answered. But part of building a Stack Exchange site is to make sure the participants can properly build a reliable canon of knowledge.

The core reason we created Stack Exchange was to assure that information posted on the Internet is widely vetted, edited, and improved by a thriving community of peers. Area 51 provides NONE of those capabilities.

The aptly named "example questions" of Area 51 are only posted to help define the scope. That's it. But it is not a Q&A site. When unwary Internet travels come across these posts through search, we don't want to be the source of half-baked answers to rhetorical and largely incomplete questions.

Just winging an answer wherever someone finds a place to type goes against why we so meticulously curate these sites in the first place. Hang on to your answers; these questions can be properly answered soon enough… when the Q&A site is created.

  • 7
    sadly, some of the proposals are never going to beta or even if it did, it fell back into the commit phase where answers that should have been someone on the vast internet would never have been found. Somewhat leaving some of the short discussion/answers on the area51, would be a nice thing. At least knowledge is not lost =)
    – alvas
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 14:14
  • 2
    @2er0 But every text box is not designed to hold Q&A. Stack Exchange was designed to avoid all the old forum problems, like discussions in random corners of the internet without the ability to vet that information or correct it whenever someone gets it wrong. We simply prefer not to propagate that problem because you found a text box to type an "answer" without any of the accountability that goes with it. Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 14:34
  • 2
    would it be better if we had a consolidated place for the unaccounted "answers" that we deleted in that way? At least we have some sort of directions/misdirections to tackle the problem, whether or not the proposal managed to get through the area51 commit/beta.Knowing 99 materials to not use as a filament for a bulb is also science, no? =)
    – alvas
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 14:38
  • 15
    Area 51 is not here to answer questions, unaccounted or not. You are in the wrong place. Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 14:48
  • 3
    How is the Area51 site supposed to get any interest or traffic if it doesn't actually work as a Q&A site? Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 15:40
  • 2
    @topo Again, the purpose of A51 is to: 1.) set a topic for a site and to create questions that might appear on the site 2.) Get some users to commit to it to make sure there's going to be more than two users (Also, they want more SE users who have some experience, so they don't want much external traffic.) 3.) Provide a place for statistics during the beta period. The beta for a proposal will launch soon enough if it has enough people. Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 0:06
  • 3
    I understand the purpose; I am just not convinced that this policy serves the purpose well. It seems to me that people won't be attracted by set of dead questions, so sites get a slower start than they could and may not get off the ground at all. There may well be reasons why a slow start is better but I don't see anyone explaining them here. Commented May 1, 2014 at 19:34
  • @topomorto it hasn't started yet... as soon as it starts (private beta) it is allowed to have answers.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:44
  • I guess I mean proposals get a slower start than they could. Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 23:11
  • 4
    what if we want example answers?
    – tox123
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 0:51
  • 2
    I personally looked through all the SE sites, and didn't find the topic I need. I look through A51 proposals, and I find the perfect place to ask. Why can't I get real answers and ask a good example question at the same time?
    – AAM111
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 3:01

The purpose of the example questions is that they help define what is supposed to be on-topic for the site. Answers would simply be noise; they're not supposed to be answered yet. Even worse, if you could answer them, people would start to treat it as a functioning site.


answering questions is indeed distracting from the very purpose of the definition phase. I made the mistake myself, I'm used to think ahead a little.

However, I agree with the proposal to store the answers that get censored though. once decision on the kind of questions being acceptable is finalized, the kind of answers that are on-topic and possible tags IMHO should be discussed too. also when the site starts, it would be nice to have some pre-answered questions and tags already. not all sites here are as popular as askubuntu or stackoverflow, for some it's a struggle to get actual content.

so the rationale behind this decision obviously is to speed up reading for visitors in this phase. the faster they can skim through present questions, the more likely they will leave a question of their own. guess that's also the reason why example-questions should be short.

the downside of such an automatism is that there cannot be much teach-by-example kind of sites here. i.e. if the allowed questions are only questions starting with "give me an example of by answering:", then it is difficult to convey what kind of examples that particular site has to offer when answers aren't allowed.


It is obviously sensible that there is no interface to write answers to example questions. However I think that answers in comments shouldn't necessarily be deleted, for a simple reason:

The quality and nature of an answer can shed light on the quality of the question.


  • Q: "What is 2 + 2?" A: "It's 4. Simple." Lesson learned: The question is too easy.

On the other hand, if somebody can present a good answer to a question, the question is likely to be good.

So my opinion on answers is: An answer to an example question is useful exactly if it is used to demonstrate the quality or lack of quality of the question.

  • 2
    +1. This is exactly my opinion, and why answers should be allowed. Also, when I look on SE for a site that will answer my question, and I don't find any, I find a proposal on A51 in a steady definition phase, so I ask the question that I actually want answered. It makes no sense that people can't actually answer my question because it's only an example question.
    – AAM111
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 21:12

This answer is too compact. Please don't down-vote because of simplicity.

The point is to follow/commit so that you wait less, answering too early is not the point. We want to create sites, not place-bos. Waiting is the motivation to follow/commit, NOT to throw answers.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .