In A question posted today, there has been a small comment thread concerning whether or not the question is on topic. Although, I pointed out that recommendation questions are definitely off topic, Pat Dobson had this argument:

I think that, due to the low numbers using this site at the moment, the scope of the site needs to increase. If this means allowing list questions and 'what's this song' questions - so be it. I fear if these questions aren't allowed, the site will die :( – Pat Dobson

I just wanted to get other opinions on this, and see if that's a direction users agree on.

  • 'what's this song' questions - a slower, more boring death. Jun 29, 2021 at 14:02

4 Answers 4


I don't think we should lift every off-topic rule and guideline we've voted up so far. However I do think we should look over what's been 'decided' (for want of a better word) and reassess things.

I think the discussion has in places swung too far towards the assumption that SE has to be about objective questions, when actually there are a number of functioning SE sites that are not like that (and who is to say that we even have to be like them, and not plough our own successful furrow?)

I think the way the current rules came about was a little dysfunctional. Rather than responding to real problems we were having, we rushed into Meta and talked energetically about the rules before we even had many questions on the main site - there was a time when Meta was almost more active than the main site, and not all the users who were active there are here now. I don't think we should be afraid to open v2.0 versions of meta threads. There are certainly things I said a few weeks ago that I have changed my mind on.

In some cases maybe we can think of more imaginative/subtle rules and restrictions that cut out problem questions without necessarily shutting down an entire area of questioning.

  • 7
    I doubt if many of the people voting on the initial meta questions are active members anymore. From their reactions they seem to be more SE fans than music fans... I'm quite wary of all the speculation. "This will be bad since...". Apr 24, 2015 at 18:00

Yes. Absolutely. This site is for music fans. Music is not a science, it's an art. Art is subjective. If you want to change it to a Music History site, we can keep throwing out questions like "When was the 8-track invented", and that'll be that. But I fully agree that recommendation questions are a good thing, because as a music fan I'm always looking for something new to listen to. Sharing this information is core to being a fan. In fact, thanks to a recommendation on that question I'm now **totally* digging a band named Porcupine Tree.

  • 4
    Also, Stack Exchange has shown they are willing to consider recommendation questions on certain sites (such as Software Recommendations). Apr 24, 2015 at 21:19
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    I think the communities are quite free to set up the rules for themselves. I believe the issue is with how people perceive a SE should work, in order for it to be a "true" SE, rather than limitations set from above. If the network is to branch out into subjects which are far from SO, different rules must apply. Apr 24, 2015 at 22:24

I'm OK on

'who else should I listen to if I like x'

…though I would be very wary of the site devolving into a list of lists. Maybe just until numbers pick up, then have another look to see where it's all generally heading.

I'm dead against

'I heard this song on the radio & the chorus said something about a guy who did something then went home. The baseline went something like dumm dumm dumm-de-dumm..
What's it called?'

To all those I will simply comment 'Get SoundHound' & vote to close. …and, here's one that exemplifies that last comment - https://musicfans.stackexchange.com/questions/648/does-anybody-know-the-name-of-this-song

Regarding the question that raised this particular thread - Band(s) in the vein of Dream Theater? - & going forward - how about some links so you can see & hear the initial query & suggestions?
As music fans, perhaps it may switch us on to something we'd not previously considered.

  • 2
    Yes, these two cases should definitely be treated as separate. With the "where should I go now", the more info on your background, what stuff you already checked out, the better the answers will be. Obviously, there can be a discussion about how useful the answers are for other than the asker, but let's see how it works out first... Apr 24, 2015 at 17:56
  • The problem I'm having with the "similar artists" functionality of different sites/services, is that they're a function of other people's music tastes. I might like one aspect of an artist much better than some other, which the majority likes, and then the machine generated tips won't fit so nicely. I believe good answers are possible, which motivates why something should fit, and takes things into consideration which computers might not yet be so good at. Apr 24, 2015 at 18:10
  • @MeaningfulUsername - if you mean Spotify et al., vs. 'someone who actually listened to stuff' - I agree whole-heartedly. Sometimes [even though it's generally frowned upon across the more 'scientific' sites on SE] a human opinion is the best one there is. I would, of course, value 'reasoned lists' to just a bunch of names, to at least give more perceived value to an answer. Overall, I'd be in favour of seeing how it goes & re-evaluate in a while.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 24, 2015 at 18:19
  • "function of" should perhaps better be expressed as "aggregation of". I have found some sweet stuff from Spotify recommendations, but if I want something similar to a certain Miles Davis era, things become more difficult. Which is another important aspect. Many artists have produced quite divergent stuff during long careers, and automatic suggestions might not cut it. Plus there might be interesting discussions, and AI hasn't really arrived there yet... Apr 24, 2015 at 18:24
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    which is why my pervading thought is to just see how it goes for now - if it generates a predominance of though-provoking QAs, all well & good; if it devolves into 'I like Miley Cyrus, who else is it cool to like?' then I'm voting to close ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 24, 2015 at 18:28
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    SoundHound doesn't help after you've heard the song (and are unlikely to hear it again). Apr 24, 2015 at 21:20
  • @pacoverflow - neither does "The baseline went something like dumm dumm dumm-de-dumm.." Soundhound gives you about the length of the track to get your phone out.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 25, 2015 at 6:39
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    That sort of question should be closed as "unclear". But it doesn't mean that ID questions that offer more specific details can't be allowed. Apr 25, 2015 at 6:44
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    Soundhound will only help you if you've got a smart phone with a data connection - not everybody has that.
    – Pat Dobson
    Apr 25, 2015 at 11:52
  • I think we're now just being picky for picky's sake. Take each on its own merit - but if anyone can describe a song accurately enough for us to guess, yet still not have managed to at least Google the lyrics, that may be a rare occurrence indeed.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 25, 2015 at 11:57

Clearly our poor little site can't continue the way it's going. And yet, we have quite a lot of incoming traffic --our only "excellent" stat. The main problem seems to be, aside from the much hated identification questions, there's just not a whole lot of fan-type music questions that people have that aren't readily answerable elsewhere.

Some time ago I suggested officially changing our scope to include dancing, and to change our name as well to reflect that. I still think that's a good idea, but I now have an even more radical suggestion: "Music, Dance and Theater Fans" or maybe "Performing Arts Fans." That way we could hopefully pick up some more questions, while building off our solid base of committed users and incoming traffic.

Personally I don't see any other way for us to thrive. The reason the ID questions have taken over is not because they've driven everyone else away, it's that people just don't have that many burning non-ID questions to bring them here.

  • I don't see any way a community is going to develop around this site as it is. The problem (as I remember it) was a lot of enthusiasm for making this site about objective Q&A, and not on what the core competency of SE actually is: solving people's problems. In a topic like music, sometimes those problems might be subjective, and that's fine - but as a community, we recognised that all too late. Mar 6, 2018 at 22:05
  • Ideally we could relaunch the site somehow, keeping some of the good questions, and throwing away the meta. No idea if that's possible... I'm just riffing here.... Mar 6, 2018 at 22:07
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    I've 100% stoped asking and answering questions on the site due to the low of questions and answer in general and this is before even factoring in the ID questions which now eat up all of our traffic. I use to ask like one question every few weeks even if I knew the answer, but the last few had answers that hardly had any effort in them become upvotes. I'm not sure we can fix it at this point and I highly doubt expanding the topic list will fix that since we already seem to lack high quality in our current site.
    – Dom Mod
    Mar 10, 2018 at 6:54
  • Why stop at "Performing Arts Fans", why not "Performing Arts Practice and Appreciation"? Jun 29, 2021 at 14:00
  • a) There's already a Music Practice and Theory site, which is not us and b) that would presuppose a community of professional performing artists, which is substantially different from what we offer. Jun 29, 2021 at 19:08

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