Imagine a website shoes.Q-A.com

The scope of this sight would be questions about shoes, but no boots or sandals, and no questions about where to buy.

Imagine the scopes are clearly defined in Help -> Help Center -> What topics can I ask here? Thats three clicks away.

Renaming of the site is not an option, but many of shoe's users have suggested it, complaining that the name of the site does not make the scope clear.

Neither can the scope of the questions asked change. The name of the site will always be shoes, and the scope will never include boots nor sandals.

What would be a good way to convey shoe's scope to users before they unintentionally ask a question that is out of scope?

I was thinking about simply making the most commonly made mistakes when asking questions more prominent and immediately available in the side bar under a caption such as "Is my question off-topic?" and this could list perhaps the top 5 to 10 misconceptions about shoes.Q-A.com.

2 Answers 2


We can assume that the user will have a fair idea of what can be asked, based on the questions they've seen other people asking.

As for letting them know what should not be asked, the obvious place to surface this information is when writing a question. Depending on how overt you want this information to be, you could display the rules before displaying the form or just display the rules alongside to the form. Stack Exchange does this to some extent.

You could do something a little clever and display a contextual warning based on what they are typing, much like Stack Exchange suggests questions that have already been asked when writing the title of a new question. For example, "It looks like you're asking a question about boots, which is off-topic for this site.").

  • Yeah SE's contextual rules on the sidebar are useful when writing the topic but go away when writing the body. I like the idea of showing the rules before showing the form. But even after the user clicks "OK, I got it." for the rules to go away, they don't actually go away, but slide over and anchor into the sidebar and stay there for reference. Add in your smart-contextual warning idea and that would probably prevent a lot of questions about boots and sandals. :) Nov 13, 2014 at 16:38

Just an idea: Dead Ends.

- Normal Shoes
- Boots
- Sandals

Where to buy

Use images to drive home the association.

All but "Normal Shoes" leads to a big bright friendly page explaining why this content is not welcome here, and maybe a link to another site where this content is discussed.

Yes, that's definitely a terrible idea from UX perspective, but I would guess it's also a very effective one.

The core idea is to use the normal user flow to determine the category, instead of trying to get users to read disclaimers, or detect category automatically.

Providing a link to an alternative would mitigate the "deasd end, they tricked me!" effect.

Q: If you get the traffic, why not make use of it? (Which doesn't necessarily mean "monetize".) But either you are in cooperation with someone dealing with boots, or they are (potential) competition. In the first case, you can lend them a hand. Otherwise, rejecting the bootophile visitors seems counterintuitive.

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