On the question "What is an effective way to learn vimscript?," the following comment received a few upvotes, and I think we should clear this on meta:

IMHO this question is off-topic because it is too broad, in addition, it's basically asking for "what's the best VimScript tutorial" (even though it isn't phrased like that). I don't think we want to have questions asking for off-site resources...

3 Answers 3



Questions asking for tutorials do not fit anywhere on Stack Exchange. They're too broad (and hence don't fit the Q&A format), and also highly opinion-based (which makes it impossible to determine whether an answer actually answers the question).

Oh yeah, they also encourage link-only answers, which we don't want. And, they're "big list" questions which absolutely don't fit Stack Exchange's strict Q&A format.

  • 3
    To prove you wrong: What are good learning resources for a LaTeX beginner? It's a post number eleven on the site, has been re-formulated many times, has got 22 answers + 6 deleted (mostly dupes and non-answers), and everybody is happy about it, given it has got 198 votes.
    – yo'
    Feb 3, 2015 at 19:09
  • I think it's good to have list of handy vim resources.
    – A B
    Feb 3, 2015 at 22:10
  • 3
    @AB Maybe, but that doesn't fit on Stack Exchange. This is a network of question and answer sites, not forums.
    – Doorknob
    Feb 3, 2015 at 22:18
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    @yo' That post is one of the only posts of its kind that I have seen on StackExchange that has not been flagged for that kind of thing. If you read over stackoverflow's 'don't ask' help page it seems pretty clear that it boils down to 'What's the best tutorial', which is open ended and broad.
    – Kiteration
    Feb 3, 2015 at 23:11
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    @Kit We have more of them, if you wish, you can go ahead and flag them all :) 2 3 4 5 In number two, you can give couple votes to Vim so that it gets into the first place (currently it's 9 votes behind). As you see, the fact that SO thinks they're cruel does not mean they can't be handled well, serve their purpose and just be fine. It's all about the boundaries you give; TeX.SE opted for strong "wiki" idea, stronger than the other sites.
    – yo'
    Feb 3, 2015 at 23:48
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    Mathematics also has many reference-request questions, and also makes them community wiki. It's something that is particularly useful for beginners, as beginners lack the ability to discern good resources from bad. It would be terrible if every, or even very many questions were reference-request. But as long as duplicates are closed and the questions curated, they can be extremely valuable resources. Feb 5, 2015 at 7:41
  • Unfortunately external references go outdated or missing very often; completely agree with Doorknob here
    – guido
    Feb 5, 2015 at 23:43

I will try to give another point of view than what Doorknob does. This type of question is manageable. To give couple examples how, you can see these ones:

What are good learning resources for a LaTeX beginner?

LaTeX Editors/IDEs

What are all the font styles I can use in math mode?

What are the most common mistakes that beginners of (La)TeX and Friends make?

As you see, they all come from one site.

How comes it can work?

  1. It takes some thought. We have been redoing some of them almost from scratch, we have an answer template for the Editors question, etc.

  2. It takes the community to be active. Otherwise you risk that the information gets outdated. However, any popular question needs this since we don't work in a static environment.

  3. It takes such questions to be not too many. Such list questions should exist only for the basic things that people really look for.

Do such questions serve any purpose? Yes, without any doubt. Given the contents are up-to-date (see above), many people can have a good use of this type of question. Also, if you have a "best tutorial" question, it makes it easier to explain new users that "your question about how to learn vim is not good", but you don't just close it, you point them to a valuable resource.

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    Even if we allow lists of links to off-site resources, "What is an effective way to learn vimscript?" is still too broad. Feb 4, 2015 at 4:44
  • @200_success That's something I don't argue about, and I've actually VTCed on that one myself. As I write: It takes some thought, which this one did not.
    – yo'
    Feb 4, 2015 at 8:09
  • Allowing tutorial lists could be one aspect of this site that distinguishes us from Super User etc. Feb 4, 2015 at 22:24
  • Looking at those, LaTeX Editors has a bunch of nice, detailed answers. So does the Font Styles one. Mistakes doesn't look like something we should encourage here. Good Learning Resources's two most upvoted answers are good examples of why most sites disallow these questions: they are link-only answers with some noise thrown in.
    – derobert
    Feb 5, 2015 at 16:57
  • Questions for tutorials or other resources about Vim are bound to happen. Slapping users in the face with an "off-topic" will only upset and discourage people. It would be better allow one well worked tutorial/resource question and answer it properly and then use the duplicate controls to point to that answer. I can't speak for others but I answer questions to be helpful not hostile. Mar 4, 2015 at 18:02

Opinion on this matter appears to be divided somewhat evenly. TeX.SE has shown that it can work, but users accustomed to the rules of other sites remain skeptical. I propose an experiment / compromise:

  1. Let's allow / questions during the private beta. Do your best to make these questions and answers good, because…
  2. Just before the end of the private beta, we'll take a yes/no poll. If the community decides to ban them, then we'll delete them all.

I further propose that such posts be made Community Wiki, as the reward-to-effort ratio would otherwise be disproportionate to that of other questions on the site.

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