We've decided that "recipe" questions are off-topic, and in the recent question about paper airplanes, CreationEdge stated:

However, the questions should be about the craft itself ... as with origami where "How can I make a paper giraffe?" wouldn't be allowed.

Having specific model requests be off-topic makes perfect sense to me, but there may be a line where this type of question can blur from being a recipe question to being a technique question.

Because I can also see "How can I make a paper giraffe?" also being stated as something like, "Why can't I get TreeMaker to create a long enough flap for the neck of my giraffe base?"

Would that still be considered off-topic? What's the distinction? How do we determine the demarcation line between an off-topic recipe request and a technique question? Is it a matter of specificity and scope or simply whether or not someone wants to be spoonfed fish vs. learning to fish?


It's about specificity. Looking at some examples:

I have origami paper, what can I make?

This "recipe request" is very obviously much too broad.

How can I make an origami giraffe?

This is still something of a "recipe request", even though we've narrowed it down to a specific "meal". There are probably a number of different possible patterns, it may depend on paper type, and [other things about origami I don't know]. Multiple answers could be "right" or comparably best, and/or good answers may need to be fairly long.

My giraffe origami instructions say this fold should make its neck pop up, but look.
[picture of droopy giraffe]
What am I doing wrong?

This is answerable, specific, and clear. The fold technique is being asked about.

I don't think that asking to be "spoonfed" is necessarily a bad thing, if those bites are spread out over multiple questions. Requesting help with many different steps of a complex process is fine, as long as those steps are each a unique question.

But when lots of steps are asked about in a single Question, it's just more difficult to apply the StackExchange Q/A model. Targeted help is different from creating tutorials.

  • 3
    And the technique applies to a wide variety of shapes... the technique is going to be used in more than just the giraffe... this makes the answer more useful to a wider group of people. I think that it's often forgotten that, while one person asks the question, the answers should be useful to anyone with similar questions. Questions should be useful in a broader sense, which is why I often like to make the answers a bit more broad than the questions... it makes them more useful to a wider audience.
    – Catija StaffMod
    May 13 '16 at 19:22

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