This is a very complex question that will not likely have a simple solution.

Two questions were asked recently that seem, on the surface, to have no relation to A&C. One has since been edited in a way that makes it (in my opinion) a good question for the site.

This one still doesn't seem like a good fit to me:
Can I patch up a straw hat?

This one, I think is good, but please note the original version of the question:
How to glue mug pieces

My concern is that allowing simple "repair" questions like this that have little to do with arts and crafts could be problematic.

Is "fixing" a random object in your home "on topic"?

If not, could we encourage users to think of an alternate question that would get the answer they need but be more related to A&C, the way the mug question did?

Another example I thought worth mentioning is Erica's question about mending her pants:
How can I hand-sew an "invisible" hem?

While fixing her pants might not be on-topic, finding the technique described in the question (which could be used for a wide variety of projects) makes the final use of the technique immaterial... this is a good example of how questions might be rephrased to fit the scope of our site.

1 Answer 1


Unless there was a problem with "general repair" problems starting to overwhelm this site, I would err towards welcoming as broad a group of users as possible so we don't start off by flogging newcomers with a patchwork of what this site is actually about.

In other words… let's not be too quick to jump on hypothetical problems until they become somewhat untenable in actual practice.

If the Stack Exchange Network was more ubiquitous covering a comprehensive, complete array of subjects, someone asking how to repair a hem would be sent to a (hypothetical) sewing site; fixing a straw hat would be sent to some type of folk art site. The mug repair would be sent to ceramics or maybe a general-household site.

But we didn't create a site about sewing, or the folk arts, or ceramics. We created a catch-all site called "Arts & Crafts" because, frankly, the individual subjects had difficulty finding an audience on their own. And with that ubiquity comes a responsibility to serve as best as possible all the folks in this space.

It would be exceedingly difficult to go back and create a site on sewing or ceramics or folks arts now, so we will likely never have one. When starting out, I would like to keep a site like this — with such a ubiquitous scope — as broad as possible so that it continues to serve an audience swept up in its broad premise.

  • But not a single one of the sample questions from the proposal phase was "how do I fix this thing I bought in the store"... I'm also really confused considering the unilateral closing of the "how do I paint this kitchen appliance" question... If anything, I expected you to support limiting the scope.
    – Catija
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 20:42
  • @Catija I'm not championing for or against any specific question; nor am I using the appearance of an off-beat post to spur another addition to growing list of "rules". Just use your judgement, keeping in mind the points I raised above. Commented May 31, 2016 at 21:05
  • 1
    But can you understand why I'm confused? The action you took on the appliance painting question seemed like you thought that the scope of the site should be limited or protected somehow... now you're championing that we not set a bunch of rules about what is and is not on topic... unless I'm reading this wrong. I'd be happy to chat about it if/when you have the time.
    – Catija
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 21:33
  • @Catija There's a difference between closing a question I thought was off topic (which was reopened) and using the occasion to raise a meta post about the creation of yet another rule to close everything else ever like it. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 14:39
  • But the fact that the question was closed spawned an "is this off topic?" meta post... and before it was reopened, it was significantly edited. I'm not saying this is a simple discussion... in fact, the first thing my question here points out is that this is a complex question. I was under the impression that the point of the Beta phase was to discuss these things... these two questions from the question came up in chat and I wanted to give our users a chance to discuss them.
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 14:45
  • For reference, the chat discussion that is the reason this question was asked is here: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/29997148#29997148
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 14:49
  • @Catija I was candidly suggesting that we don't need to take every off-beat post as an occasion to launch yet another meta rule-set discussion. Until it's an actual problem proliferating across the site, I was merely suggesting these are often unnecessary and possibly even counter-productive. But now I'm worried that you're reading into this that we need a rule set about when to discuss rules. Respectfully, I'm not going to feed into that discussion, so I'll just let my thoughts stand on their own. They are only that... thoughts. Enjoy. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 15:21

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