This doesn't say a whole lot:


Is that deliberate? Did I miss the section that says what's on topic here?

I ask in connection with this:


  • 1
    Thanks for pointing it out. I've written something up there now combining suggestions from both answers. If anyone disagrees with anything, feel free to open a new meta question.
    – Malabarba
    Mar 19, 2015 at 13:20

2 Answers 2


As Gilles stated, we haven't gotten around to updating those yet.

My opinion (and what appears to have been the opinion in Meta- Questions about on-/off-topic) is that as long as the question is about Emacs, then it is on-topic.

Off-Topic would be:

  • How to make X behave like Emacs

    This is typically about how to get Emacs-like bindings/behaviour in shells or other editors.

  • How to configure Y (non-Emacs program)

    This has come up for git and for certain window-manager related issues. They are trickier to judge and sometimes will get an answer, since the issue appears to be Emacs-related (In the instance of git, missing information in ~/.gitconfig causing magit to misbehave)

With regards to what you mentioned on SO Meta about usage/configuration vs. programming: All those questions would be on-topic on Emacs.SE. That isn't to say they are off-topic on SO but they could find a home here just as well. Also that distinction is very often a false distinction, since unless you are talking about modifying the C code, most of programming Emacs is configuring Emacs (and vice-versa).


The content of this page is meant to be updated by moderators (except the title and the part at the end beginning with “Please look around …”, which are imposed). The Emacs.SE moderators haven't gotten around to doing it yet.

The content of this page usually duplicates or expands on the content of the tour page, which is your first introduction to the site. The tour page describes the site in two ways:

  • The first section describes the site in a sentence written by Stack Exchange staff. We have:

    Emacs Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for those using, extending, or developing the emacs text editor.

  • The “Ask about…” and “Don't ask about…” boxes in the “Get answers to practical, detailed questions” section can be customized by moderators.

The scope of this site is fairly obvious — anything that fits into the Stack Exchange Q&A format and that is about Emacs. The one thing that's important to mention is that this includes users of all occupations (not just programmers) as well as people who contribute to making Emacs itself and Emacs packages. The one-sentence site description in the tour page conveys that, but it should be repeated on the help/on-topic page.

  • Thanks for the pointer to the tour page. So in the referenced SO post, the SO denizens are very much of the view that the scope of an SE site should not be regarded as obvious -- particularly so for directing people here. Seems most people here would like Emacs.SE to be successful, and the last beta update suggested directing people here who might not know it exists -- seems like a good idea to me. Since SO seems like a great place to reach such people, I guess you would therefore concur that we should make the scope clearer, so we can direct people from there with SO'ers blessings? Mar 19, 2015 at 21:46
  • I guess the relevant part of the tour page is "a library of detailed answers to every question about emacs"? SE moderators generally have specific ideas about what's on topic, so that doesn't strike me as detailed enough to tell me whether a question is on-topic. I did look at that page, and it appeared to be only standard SE boilerplate telling me things like "Tags make it easy to find interesting questions". For that reason, even if the dogma is "the tour is your first introduction to the site". I don't think it functions well for that purpose. Mar 19, 2015 at 21:52
  • @CroadLangshan I concur that we need to put something in the how-to-ask page. Is that what you mean by “make the scope clear”? Or do you think we need something more detailed than what's on the tour page (“those using, extending, or developing the emacs text editor”)? Emacs.SE has a scope that's fairly simple to describe. The MSO community is wary of making assumptions about other sites' scope largely because of Software Engineering, which has a very subtle and changing scope. Mar 19, 2015 at 21:53
  • I think 1. agree filling out how-to-ask page is good, but also good: 2. explicitly reinforcing on that page that yes, everything about emacs itself is on topic, 3. explicitly listing some things that are not on topic, such as Jonathan Leech-Pepin lists Mar 19, 2015 at 21:59
  • Just to clarify my own comment: I think the tour page is great for people new to SE, but not great for people who already know SE (but who are not moderators or other people who make a big contribution). My guess would be that since these days SE is so widely used, that will actually be most Emacs.SE users. Mar 19, 2015 at 22:02

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