Note: This is based on this question.

Do we consider questions about things a parent might do that is not "doing something with children", on topic?

This would be questions such as how to fix a toy, how to do a craft, how to find other parents to talk to.

If the answer is "sometimes", what is the dividing line? For example (hypothetically), you might argue that fixing a toy is on topic, but assembling a bed is not. If there is a dividing line, what general rule can be used to determine what side of the line a question is on?

  • Note: This is somewhat similar to this question. I don't think it's the same, and think further that we've clearly shifted in the 3.5 years since that question somewhat in what we consider on topic, to be a bit more permissive (for better or for worse).
    – Joe
    Mar 5, 2015 at 22:53
  • FWIW: my wife came to me with a complaint about the puzzle and my first thought was "I could put this on Facebook, or I could put it on stackexchange and someone else, someday, could benefit from the answer." That said, it doesn't mean the question is on topic for this site. To this point I've only been an occasional lurker on Parenting, so I don't claim any expertise on this particular site's taxonomy. Mar 5, 2015 at 23:46
  • @Joe - would you be willing to give a defense of your thoughts and beliefs in your question? Mar 6, 2015 at 0:49
  • 2
    @anongoodnurse I will tomorrow - I was hoping that if someone else did think t was off topic that they'd answer.
    – Joe
    Mar 6, 2015 at 0:50
  • 3
    Let's err on the side of inclusion and accept this kind of question. Site traffic is light anyway, and more 'core' parenting questions aren't getting crowded out. Questions about kids' toys/equipment seem close enough to the core topic, to me.
    – A E
    Mar 6, 2015 at 14:25

4 Answers 4


I'm not against questions that are parent-related and increase traffic to our beta. The asker could have gone to BoardGames.SE or LifeHack.SE, but they felt this was a parenting issue. Even if they'd asked about cleaning a LEGO set, I don't think I would have sent them to Bricks.SE.

A SE or Google search will locate the question well enough. Currently, "how to flatten a warped puzzle" on Google brings up this question as the 5th result!

I think it's important that the asker chose to ask us. We are thinking about these questions from a parent's perspective. If we can offer insights as parents, or people who are cognizant of children's needs, then I think that is the dividing line.

For instance, on this question, I suggested a measure that included putting a sealant on the puzzle. As a parent, I felt the need to specify the use of a non-toxic sealant, or even a food-grade sealant, depending on the child. I can't say BG or LH wouldn't have suggested the same thing, but I personally only mentioned those options because I was thinking about it from a parent's point of view.

Questions about assembling a bed or a crib could potentially meet the same criteria. I've put together and taken apart my son's crib enough times now that I consider myself an expert. I would mention tricks I've picked up that have made it easier, and things I watch for to make sure the crib stays structurally safe between assemblies. Another site might just offer you help in understanding the building instructions, rather than providing you safety insights or tips.

So, my litmus test would be: Is the Parenting.SE community able to offer insights as parenting-minded individuals that other sites may not?

Although it wasn't brought up, I feel that this academia meta question/answer shows that migrating a question to another site can make access more difficult for new users, and it removes the community's ability to self govern. Letting us vote ourselves can be preferable to trying to catalog questions in just the right spot.

I would use my litmus in deciding whether or not to VTC.


My opinion is largely similar to CreationEdge, but I did want to add an explanation of what I think is appropriate.

I think that the key to determining if something is on topic here (as a topic) is:

  • Is this something Parents would be interested in based primarily on their being a parent?
  • Is this something Parents might have expertise in based primarily on their being a parent?

IE, will a parent search for something on this topic (item one) or will a parent have something useful to say (item two).

Most things are likely both, but there are some cases where it's one or the other. We occasionally have questions from children wanting to know how to deal with their parents in difficult situations; that's on topic because a parent might have expertise in the subject. We also occasionally have questions that are better answered by specialists (doctors, educators, psychologists), but are still clearly on topic.

As for the puzzle question, to me it's something that a parent might have expertise in (as some of us have probably fixed puzzles in the past) and something a parent might be interested in (how do I fix a puzzle), so it's on topic.

  • 1
    I think the part about whether parents would be interested in the question/answer is a great test, too. I'm glad you said it.
    – user11394
    Mar 8, 2015 at 3:54

Specific to the question that inspired this Question: I think it's somewhat off-topic.

You don't have to be a parent to flatten a puzzle, or own a puzzle that needs to be flattened.

However, children tend to be rougher on objects (such as puzzle pieces) than adults. Their puzzles typically have larger pieces (more prone to warping? I'm wildly guessing about that) and are exposed to sticky or moist hands or spilled liquid, and so it would seem plausible that a child's puzzle is more likely to end up warped and unusable than a "grown up" puzzle.

So (if my tenuous logic holds) parents are more likely to be looking for an Answer about fixing warped puzzle pieces than non-parents. Similarly, parents are more likely to have experience in either attempting the process, or searching for an answer -- or, as CreationEdge notes, considering the potential dangers of proposed methods.

Honestly, I think I'm kind of reaching with the last paragraph. But if there's no obvious off-topic reason to close (medical/legal issues, shopping recommendations, relationships, sex) and there is not another SE site that would fit better, I would err on the side of "on topic." This seems like a fairly subjective standard and there's a wide array of possible "grey area" questions that could fall into it, but I don't know if a good general rule can ever really be found, given that wide array.

  • I don't think this is reaching at all. Mar 9, 2015 at 17:22

I'm in the "this is on-topic" camp. Which surprises me a bit because I felt otherwise on How to get a 15 yr old started with a computer? The difference for me is that this is a parent who is asking as a parent.

This is reminiscent of the question that arose when Relationships & Dating was about to launch.

In that question's answers, Torben Gundtofte-Bruun stated

If the topic involves parenting then it's on-topic here, and if it just happens to involve parents then it would be on-topic there.

Likewise, Beofett stated

Migration should only occur if a question is off-topic on the site it is posted, but on-topic for the other site (and the other site has indicated that it will be welcome), or if it is on-topic for both sites, and the OP specifically requests a migration. Otherwise, it should stay where it was originally posted.

I know flattening a puzzle piece is different from a relationship, but the principles are the same.

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